Monday, June 30, 2014

World Cup 2014 -- For U.S., time to stand and deliver --- Americans once again assume the role of underdog to formidable Belgium, but Klinsmann’s crew believes they can advance. - More,

National Security: Court gave NSA broad leeway in surveillance, documents show --- Virtually no foreign government is off-limits for the National Security Agency, which has been authorized to intercept information “concerning” all but four countries, according to top-secret documents. -- The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — in a group known collectively with the United States as the Five Eyes. But a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well. -- The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — lists 193 countries that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. The certification also permitted the agency to gather intelligence about entities including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency. -- The NSA is not necessarily targeting all the countries or organizations identified in the certification, the affidavits and an accompanying exhibit; it has only been given authority to do so. Still, the privacy implications are far-reaching, civil liberties advocates say, because of the wide spectrum of people who might be engaged in communication about foreign governments and entities and whose communications might be of interest to the United States. -- “These documents show both the potential scope of the government’s surveillance activities and the exceedingly modest role the court plays in overseeing them,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, who had the documents described to him. -- NSA officials, who declined to comment on the certification or acknowledge its authenticity, stressed the constraints placed on foreign intelligence-gathering. The collection must relate to a foreign intelligence requirement — there are thousands — set for the intelligence agencies by the president, the director of national intelligence and various departments through the National Intelligence Priorities Framework. -- Furthermore, former government officials said, it is prudent for the certification to list every country — even those whose affairs do not seem to immediately bear on U.S. national security interests or foreign policy. -- “It’s not impossible to imagine a humanitarian crisis in a country that’s friendly to the United States, where the military might be expected on a moment’s notice to go in and evacuate all Americans,” said a former senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. “If that certification did not list the country,” the NSA could not gather intelligence under the law, the former official said. -- The documents shed light on a little-understood process that is central to one of the NSA’s most significant surveillance programs: collection of the e-mails and phone calls of foreign targets under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. -- The foreign-government certification, signed by the attorney general and the director of national intelligence, is one of three approved annually by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, pursuant to the law. The other two relate to counterterrorism and counterproliferation, according to the documents and former officials. -- Under the Section 702 program, the surveillance court also approves rules for surveillance targeting and for protecting Americans’ privacy. The certifications, together with the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, serve as the basis for targeting a person or an entity. - More, Washingtonpost,

PRESS STATEMENT: UNAMA supports accountability of election officials --- KABUL, 28 June 2014 – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) takes note of today’s Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) press conference, notably statements concerning the adjudication of allegations against the Independent Election Commission’s (IEC) former Chief Electoral Officer. -- UNAMA has consistently emphasized to all Afghan stakeholders – including the Presidential candidates, election management bodies, state institutions and authorities and the public – its support for accountability and due process. -- The Mission has always supported the need for both the IEC and IECC to maintain strict impartiality and to uphold the highest standards of integrity, given their key role in Afghanistan’s historic political transition, as well as the need for full accountability and impartiality of its officials in carrying out their work. -- No individual is above the law. On the other hand, no one can be considered or proclaimed guilty without firm evidence and due process. -- The Mission urges that in the case that there is evidence documenting unlawful activities by any individual, then such evidence should be investigated and adjudicated by the respective Afghan institutions and authorities in accordance with the laws of the country. - More,

Japan's Abe Set to Change Country's Pacifist Policy --- TOKYO—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to make a historic shift in the country's six-decade-old pacifist policy, achieving a long-standing personal aim but potentially alienating voters. -- Citing "fundamental changes" in Japan's security situation, Mr. Abe's cabinet was planning to issue on Tuesday a reinterpretation of Japan's constitution allowing the nation's Self-Defense Forces to aid allies under attack, officials said. Until now, Japanese governments have said the U.S.-written postwar constitution forbade the nation from using military force except in narrow cases of self-defense. -- The broader interpretation, permitting what is known as collective self-defense, could commit Japan to shouldering a heavier military burden in its alliance with the U.S. -- A draft of the cabinet statement, viewed by The Wall Street Journal, says the new interpretation allows the SDF to exercise military power when "another country closely connected" to Japan is attacked. Mr. Abe and his aides have said this would pave the way for Japan to shoot down ballistic missiles that were fired from, say, North Korea at U.S. military bases in Guam, even if Japan itself weren't directly targeted. -- "It is essential to prevent armed conflict and threats to our country by further improving the effectiveness of Japan-U.S. security arrangements and enhancing our alliance's power of deterrence," the draft statement says. -- U.S. officials including President Barack Obama have endorsed the change. "Washington reckons it's about time," says Grant Newsham, defense researcher at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies. "A more assertive Japan is a force multiplier—at a time when U.S. defense budgets are shrinking and the [U.S. military is] hard-pressed to maintain an adequate presence in the region." - More, WSJ,

The crisis in Iraq and an Afghanistan prognosis --- The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has rampaged through western Iraq. A few thousand kilometres away in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is withdrawing, with Americans contemplating less than 10,000 troops on ground. -- The Iraqi and Afghan landscapes have festering ethnic and sectarian divides in common. In Iraq, the ISIL has crafted one of the best success stories for radical Islamists in recent history. Is a similar manoeuvre on the cards in Afghanistan? -- The genesis of the crisis in Iraq has its roots in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s reluctance in exercising inclusive governance. The Kurds, 17 percent of the population, remained at the periphery – only to become more and more assertive. Further, Maliki never really made the effort required to draw Sunnis, who make up approximately 30 percent of the population, into the fold. -- In Afghanistan, ethnic faultlines have proven, historically, more difficult to negotiate than sectarian divides. However, the Afghan parliament has a fair representation of ethnic groups. The army, though dominated by the Pashtuns and Tajiks, is quite representative. -- In Iraq, the Sunni rebels took full advantage of the increasing sectarian rift to graduate from being a radical al Qaeda offshoot to making lightning gains in Iraq. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has displayed adequate resilience in resisting military operations launched by NATO or Afghan forces. They have bases across the Durand Line in Pakistan that serve as sanctuary just like Syrian territory has been for the ISIL. -- The Americans, aided by NATO forces, raised and trained both the Iraqi and Afghan Security Forces with a common objective of building truly national institutions, without sectarian or ethnic leanings. However, in Iraq, Maliki found a depoliticized and professional Iraqi Security Force not too amenable for his designs and gradually pushed out Sunni and Kurd officers. -- The Afghan National Army (ANA) is not yet fully trained and equipped to undertake counter-insurgency operations. The Taliban is better placed in Afghanistan than the ISIL was in Iraq before the Syrian conflict. The al Qaeda also retains enough of a following to stage rapid growth. -- Both nations suffer the handicap of a variegated social fabric that can easily fragment. Violence in Iraq kept increasing because Maliki promoted Shia interests while barely making attempts to draw Sunnis into the mainstream. -- If Afghanistan is to survive after the ISAF withdraws, it will require an inclusive regime at Kabul committed to democratic governance. The denial of opportunities to any ethnic group will magnify ethnic rifts, with a cascading effect on the cohesion of its armed forces. -- Sustained economic growth, adequate foreign aid and investment and strengthening democratic institutions are very important for Afghanistan to remain a stable nation, but the ultimate test will be a truly democratic regime with a thoroughly professional and apolitical ANA to avoid a blitzkrieg like the one staged by the ISIL in Iraq. - More,

آگاهان: شرايط کرزى در خصوص مبارزه مشترک عليه تروريزم بجا و حقيقت است --- کابل (پژواک، ٨ سرطان ٩٣): شمارى از آگاهان امور، شرايط رئيس جمهور کرزى در خصوص مبارزه مشترک افغانستان و پاکستان عليه تروريزم را يک ضرورت و حقانيت دانسته، اما ميگويند که پاکستان در امر مبازره عليه تروريزم صادق نيست. رئيس جمهور کرزى در خصوص مبارزه مشترک افغانستان وپاکستان عليه تروريزم شرايط خود را طى يک نامه يى به پاکستان واضح نمود. مبارزه يکسان و صادقانه عليه تمامى شبکه هاى تروريستى، جلوگيرى از تلفات ملکى، رهايى طالبان که خواستارصلح هستند، از بين بردن مراکز و لانه هاى تروريزم در هرجاى که است، توقف حملات توپخانه يى پاکستان، هماهنگى تلاش هاى کشور هاى بزرگ منطقه در امر مبارزه با تروريزم از جمله شرايط مهم رئيس جمهورکرزى است که در اين نامه به پاکستان مطرح گرديده است. -- تحليلگران امور سياسى در حاليکه شرايط رئيس جمهور کرزى را بجا و درست ميدانند، اما بر صادق بودن پاکستان در امر مبارزه با تروريزم شک و ترديد دارند. -- احمدسعيدى متخصص مسايل سياسى امروز ٨ سرطان به آژانس خبرى پژواک گفت، شرايطى را که رئيس جمهور افغانستان با مقامات پاکستانى طى نامه يى مطرح کرده يک حقانيت و يک ضرورت براى افغانستان و منطقه است. وى گفت: (٢١ بار رئيس جمهورکرزى به پاکستان سفر کرده، حُسن نيت و همجوارى نشان داده است، اما همواره مقامات پاکستان برعکس آن عمل کرده اند و اگر به گذشته پاکستان نگاه کنيم اين نامه نيزمانند گذشته نتيجه در پى نخواهدداشت.) -- موصوف گفت: (عمليات را که پاکستان در آن سوى خط ديورند آغاز کرده تا هنوز به اصل لانه هاى تروريزم که شبکه هاى حقانى، حافظ گل بهادر، امجدفاروقى، صلاح الدين ايوبى است، حملاتی را انجام نداده است، اما گروه سنجنا، حکيم الله مسعود را زير ضربه گرفته است و اگر گروه حقانى و گروه هاى ديگر را نيز زي رحملات بگيرد آن وقت ما بر صداقت پاکستان در امرمبارزه با تروريزم يقين پيدا مي کنيم.) اما اين آگاه امور به اين باور است که با توجه به شرايط و وضعيت بحرانى منطقه و مجبوريت هاى پاکستان اندکى اميدوارکننده است که اگر اين نامه را صد در صد عملى نکند، اما گام هاى ابتدايى را بردارد. -- اما يونس فکور آگاه مسايل سياسى ديگر ميگويد که پاکستان در قبال افغانستان منافع خود را دنبال ميکند و به هيچ قيمتی از اين منافع دست ‌بردار نيست. موصوف افزود که سياست ‌های حکومت ملکی پاکستان با نظاميان آن کشور کاملا متفاوت است و در سياست خارجی پاکستان حرف آخر را نظاميان آن کشور می‌ گويند. بنابراين ارسال چنين نامه به حکومت ملکى پاکستان سياست اصلى آن کشور را در قبال مبارزه با تروريزم تغير نخواهند داد. موصوف گفت: (از يکسو رئيس جمهورکرزى چنين نامه به حکومت ملکى ارسال ميکند، اما طرف ديگر والى هلمند به شکل واضح ميگويد که نظاميان پاکستانى در جنگ سنگين شرکت دارند و من تشويش دارم که در عقب اين موضوع، بازى ديگر نباشد که کرزى از آن بخاطر دوام قدرت خود خلاف قانون استفاده کند.) -- در امر مبارزه مشترک افغانستان و پاکستان به حيث يک گام ابتدايى رنگين دادفر اسپنتا مشاور شوراى امنيت ملى در راس يک هيات بلندپايه سفر نمود و نامه رئيس جمهور را به پاکستان تقديم کرد و در راستاى عملى نمودن اين شرايط با مقامات پاکستانى بحث و گفتگو نيز کرد. - پژواک

Sunday, June 29, 2014

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Ramadan --- The Muslim observance of Ramadan begins this evening and ends a month later on Monday, July 28. Here are five things to help non-Muslims appreciate why this month is the holiest on the Islamic calendar. --- 1. What is it? - Ramadan is the actual name of the ninth month on the Islamic calendar when Muslims believe that God began to reveal what would become their main religious text, the Koran, in the year 609 CE (common era). Muslims are taught that it took the subsequent 23 years for Allah to reveal his full message and guide to humanity. - More, Calvin Lawrence Jr.

FoxNewsOpinion -- What Americans should know about Ramadan --- This year, Ramadan starts on June 29. Over 1.5 billion Muslims, despite their sectarian differences, will be united to reinvigorate their faith. -- In a country where nearly one in four Americans don't want to have a Muslim neighbor and some employers are not eager to recruit them, this poses a problem. Because in July 2014, folks may notice a change in the behavior of their Muslim neighbors and coworkers. -- So here is a cut and dried version of what to expect and what not to suspect. --- I urge you, during this Ramadan, to get to know real Muslims. -- If your neighbor's lights comes on at 3:30 am, rest assured, he is making omelets, not bombs. Ramadan means we eat before the first ray of sunrise and then refrain from eating and drinking till sunset. And no... fasting does not make him a fanatic either; according to a 2013 Pew poll, which surveyed 38,000 Muslims in 39 countries, fasting is observed by 93% of Muslims worldwide. -- Then there’s this. If you walk into the office restroom and catch your colleague with his foot in the sink (awkward!) and his shoes lying on the floor don’t run. The guy is performing ablution, a necessary ritual to wash your hands, nose, face, forearms and feet before offering the five daily prayers. -- During a water cooler conversation, when your friend's cell phone chimes a melodious Arabic ringtone, don’t worry. It's simply a Muslim call to prayers (Athan). The summary of the words of Athan is: God is the one, the Only and the Great; Muhammad is his messenger; and come to prayers, come to success. By the way, neither Athan nor Kuran mentions the word "infidel." -- If your colleague asks to take 10 days off at the end of July, don’t sweat it. Prophet Muhammad used to spend the last ten days of Ramadan in solitude, praying intensely. The practice is called, Itekaaf. The idea is to turn off your cell phone and cry: God ... can you hear me now? -- If a belligerent coworker starts withdrawing, don't assume he or she is turning into a lone wolf. The person might be avoiding provocative situations because Muslims are required to refrain from quarrelsome behavior during fasting. -- Here is the one you're really going to like: Muslims are commanded to be charitable during Ramadan. So ask your Muslim neighbors and colleagues to write a check for a good cause. If they get edgy, remind them to gulp their anger. They will become a pussycat. -- Despite having differences in beliefs, the religiosity of American Muslims is comparable to Christians. According to the Pew Research Center for 72% of U.S. Muslims religion is "very important," as compared to 60% of U.S. Christians who told Pew they feel the same way. -- Sadly, in a post-9/11 United States, Muslim religiosity makes some of our journalists, neighbors and employers nervous. -- That nervousness, to some degree, is understandable. But I didn't want the Ramadan rituals to add to the palpitations. -- So relax my fellow Americans. People who flew jet liners into tall buildings are an anathema to my faith. Those espousing violence and hatred are Muslims only in name. -- I urge you, during this Ramadan, to get to know real Muslims. We will laugh; we will play. We'll serve you food, any time of the day. --- More, Faheem Younus,

Healing the Brain With Fasting --- The brain is made up of trillions of cells. Three thousand psychoactive chemicals allow the brain to react to outside stimulus. More than fifty psychoactive substances activate aggression, sedation and memory. The brain can perform over 100,000 chemical reactions per second. One hundred billion bits can be stored in the memory, equal to 500 hundred sets of encyclopedias. The brain has 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connectors for memory alone. Even with today’s high-tech diagnostic tools, most of the brain’s operations remain a great mystery. -- There is much to be said for the effects of fasting on the brain and senses. -- Thinking is sharper when hungry. When University of Chicago students fasted for seven days, mental alertness increased and their progress in schoolwork was cited as remarkable. The universal testimony of fasters is that thinking is enhanced. -- The mental and physical senses are heightened, and often, there can be a feeling of euphoria, especially during longer fasts. Some, for the first time, will experience emotional stability. The reasons for this are multifold—the elimination of the emotional dependence on food, exclusion of stimulating foods like caffeine, processed sugars and trans-fatty acids, all of which can have a devastating effect on delicate emotions. -- Within the brain, neuroglial cells supply essential elements to neurons. If any neuron becomes diseased, injured or dies, it is consumed by the neuroglial cells. Their function is to keep the brain clean and healthy. When Albert Einstein died, he donated his body to science. Researchers examining specimens of his brain found that Einstein’s mind had 73% more neuroglial cells than the average person. Einstein had a very “clean” brain. -- Dr. Ehret stated an amazing fact at the turn of the 20th century. He said for a fast to awaken the higher mind functions, it had to be longer than 21 days. Fasting has a history of awakening intuitive senses, creativity and deeper spiritual questions in those with enough determination to get past the 21-day mark. -- Fasting has been beneficial in cases of paralysis, neuritis, neuralgia, neuroses and mental illness. Dr. E. A. Moras tells of a woman who fasted for seven days on strained orange juice. She had been mentally ill for eight months and treated by eminent neurologists. Her condition improved to the point of being cured by the fifth week after the fast. -- Medical science faces tremendous limitations when it comes to healing the brain. The complexity of this organ allows only the most basic intervention. Prescription drugs can have dangerous side effects because of the brain’s delicate balance. Fasting may be the most sensible route to healing mental disorders. It is well known that the brain, if given the opportunity, has a capacity of healing. Fasting will intensify the healing. I have seen a mentally deranged person stabilize in three days of juice fasting. Severe headaches have been cured many times Memory and concentration have been permanently improved. Fasting has also healed depression. - More, Tom Coghill of,

Amid Claims of Fraud, Afghan Presidential Candidate Vows More Deadlock --- KABUL, Afghanistan — After a potential opening last week to ease Afghanistan’s political crisis, the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah signaled on Sunday that more deadlock was ahead, promising again that he would not accept any decisions made by the country’s election commission after the panel rejected a list of his demands. -- “From today onward, we reject all the decisions and activities of the Independent Election Commission, which will not have any legal value anyway,” said Baryalai Arsalai, Mr. Abdullah’s campaign manager. “They have no intention to assess the fraudulent votes and separate the dirty votes from the clean votes.” --- The United Nations had tried to encourage the Abdullah campaign to re-engage with the election commission. After some persuading, the campaign agreed, issuing a letter outlining 13 demands that it said would help mitigate the alleged fraud, which the campaign has said ranges from 1.5 million to 2.5 million falsified ballots. In response, the campaign received a letter from the commission on Sunday rejecting the demands. -- Now the process is up in the air again, along with millions of Afghan voters left to wonder whether their ballots will count, and with Western officials watching in concern as they try to organize a military withdrawal. Apart from public admonitions by the United Nations and the Obama administration for the Afghan candidates to follow the electoral process as laid out under law, the threshold for any sort of international invention is unclear. -- The next official step for the election commission is likely to be the announcement of preliminary results, tentatively set for July 2. While Mr. Abdullah has demanded a stop to the vote counting, the commission has ignored the request and has continued tallying the ballots. -- Earlier, the commission declined to release partial results, fearful of stoking tensions. Now the commissioners are insisting that partial results will be released on time, a move that is sure to incite more anger from Mr. Abdullah and his supporters. While thousands of his followers have so far protested peacefully in the streets, many fear that the release of the results — which are expected to show his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, with a sizable lead — could heighten the crisis. -- At issue is whether the more than seven million Afghans turned out for the runoff election, a figure that eclipsed the first round. While many suspect the number is too high, attention began to home in on regions of the country supportive to Mr. Ghani. In those areas, voter turnout surged, in some cases tripling. -- Mr. Abdullah cried foul almost immediately, sure that his opponent, with the help of the election commission and others, had engineered extensive fraud. Having lost the 2009 presidential election in a race marked by such fraud, Mr. Abdullah was primed to speak out this time around. -- His campaign also produced what it said was evidence of one of the top election officials’ consorting with members of Mr. Ghani’s team to stuff ballots and install friendly officials in various provinces. -- While Mr. Ghani has denounced the tapes as fake, very few others have publicly challenged the credibility of the intercepts. Instead, most have wondered aloud how the campaign managed to get its hands on illegal recordings. -- For his part, Mr. Ghani has vehemently denied the fraud accusations. He has said that his team campaigned hard for the second round, and organized the support of key mullahs and tribes in the country’s ethnic Pashtun areas, which led to the extraordinary turnout. Mr. Ghani is an ethnic Pashtun. - More, NYTimes

Taliban Mount Major Assault in Afghanistan --- KABUL, Afghanistan — In one of the most significant coordinated assaults on the government in years, the Taliban have attacked police outposts and government facilities across several districts in northern Helmand Province, sending police and military officials scrambling to shore up defenses and heralding a troubling new chapter as coalition forces prepare to depart. -- The attacks have focused on the district of Sangin, historically an insurgent stronghold and one of the deadliest districts in the country for the American and British forces who fought for years to secure it. The Taliban have mounted simultaneous attempts to conquer territory in the neighboring districts of Now Zad, Musa Qala and Kajaki. In the past week, more than 100 members of the Afghan forces and 50 civilians have been killed or wounded in fierce fighting, according to early estimates from local officials. -- With a deepening political crisis in Kabul already casting the presidential election and long-term political stability into doubt, the Taliban offensive presents a new worst-case situation for Western officials: an aggressive insurgent push that is seizing territory even before American troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan. -- The battle in Helmand is playing out as, about 1,500 miles to the west, Iraq is losing ground to an insurgent force that advanced in the shadow of the American withdrawal there. The fear pulsing through Afghanistan is that it, too, could fall apart after the NATO-led military coalition departs in 2016. -- Already, areas once heavily patrolled by American forces have grown more violent as the Afghan military and the police struggle to feed, fuel and equip themselves. The lackluster performance of the Afghan Army so far in Helmand has also evoked comparisons with Iraq, raising questions about whether the American-trained force can stand in the way of a Taliban resurgence. -- Officials in Helmand say the answers may come soon enough. -- “The Taliban are trying to overrun several districts of northern Helmand and find a permanent sanctuary for themselves,” said Hajji Mohammad Sharif, the district governor for Musa Qala. “From there, they pose threats to the southern parts of Helmand and also pose threats to Kandahar and Oruzgan Provinces.” - More, NYTimes

"کمیسیون انتخابات خواست عبدالله را رد کرد" --- ستاد انتخاباتی داکتر عبدالله اعلام کرد که کمیسیون انتخابات تمامی خواست های این ستاد را رد کرده است. این ستاد گفت کمیسیون انتخابات بی طرف نیست و به سود یکی از کاندیدان کار می کند. -- تیم انتخاباتی عبدالله عبدالله گفته است که کمیسیون انتخابات افغانستان خواست این نامزد را برای برگزاری دوباره انتخابات در برخی از ولایت های شرقی رد کرده است. این ستاد می گوید که در برخی ولایات، شمار آرا با تعداد نفوس آن ها تناسب ندارد. -- نصرالله بریالی ارسلایی، رئیس دفتر مبارزات انتخاباتی داکتر عبدالله روز یکشنبه (8 سرطان 1393) در یک کنفرانس خبری گفت: «پس از امروز ما تمام فیصله های کمیسیون انتخابات و کمیسیون شکایات انتخاباتی را رد می کنیم و برای ما هیچ گونه قانونیت و مشروعیت ندارد». -- آقای عبدالله همکاری خود را پس از آن با کمیسیون های انتخاباتی افغانستان به حالت تعلیق درآورد که او ادعا کرد تقلب گسترده در انتخابات رخ داده است؛ اما مقامات کمیسیون انتخابات و رقیب او، اشرف غنی احمد زی این ادعا را رد می کنند. -- آقای ارسلایی گفت در انتخابات 24 جوزا مقام های دولتی و کمیسیون انتخابات پروژه ای را به نفع یکی از نامزدان به پیش برده اند: «مقام های کمیسیون انتخابات همراه با مقام های دولتی زمینه تقلب را فراهم کرده و یک پروژه دیزاین شده را عملی کرده اند که در این پروژه به صورت آشکارا برای یک نامزد خاص کار کرده اند». این مسوول تیم انتخاباتی داکتر عبدالله گفت که کمیسیون انتخابات در تقلب های انتخاباتی «مستقیما نقش داشته است». --- خواست داکتر عبدالله -- داکتر عبدالله از کمیسیون انتخابات خواسته است تا در ولایاتی که به نفع رقیبش اشرف غنی احمدزی، به گفته او به صورت گسترده تقلب شده، دوباره انتخابات برگزار شود. تیم انتخاباتی داکتر عبدالله می گوید در ولایات خوست، پکتیا و پکتیکا به صورت سیستماتیک تقلب صورت گرفته است. -- اما این تیم روز یکشنبه اعلام کرد که این خواست آن ها از سوی کمیسیون انتخابات پذیرفته نشده است. تیم داکتر عبدالله گفت که کمیسیون انتخابات و کمیسیون شکایات انتخاباتی هر دو از نظر آن ها قانونیت ندارند و فیصله های شان مدار اعتبار نیست. -- اما نور محمد نور، سخنگوی کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات روز شنبه در یک کنفرانس خبری گفت به تمام خواست های داکتر عبدالله رسیدگی شده و دلیلی برای قطع رابطه داکتر عبدالله با کمیسیون انتخابات باقی نمانده است. -- این در حالی است که پیش از این ضیاء الحق امرخیل رئیس پیشین دارالانشاء کمیسیون انتخابات از سمتش استعفا داد و کمیسیون انتخابات حاضر شد تا ده درصد از آرای ولایات خوست، پکتیا و پکتیکا را باز شماری کند. - صدای آلمان

کرزی: در پنجم عید سعید فطر قدرت را تحویل می‌دهم --- حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور کشور، می‌گوید که او در نظر دارد تا قدرت سیاسی را در روز پنجم عید سعید فطر به رئیس جمهور جدید بسپارد. -- براساس اعلامیه‌ای که توسط دفتر ریاست جمهوری منتشر شده، این مطلب را آقای کرزی روزشنبه، هفتم سرطان، در دیداری با شماری از اعضا و هیات رهبری حزب «ملت» و تعدادی از بزرگان ولایت بغلان در ارگ ریاست جمهوری مطرح کرده است. -- در این دیدار آقای کرزی تظاهرات اعتراضی روز جمعه در نزدیکی ارگ ریاست جمهوری را نشانه‌ای بزرگ از «کامیابی‌« مردم افغانستان توصیف کرده می‌گوید که این تظاهرات نشان داد که نظام دموکراسی در کشور آهسته آهسته به پختگی می‌رسد. -- رئیس جمهور کرزی با تاکید بر این‌که انتخابات در بسیاری از کشورها مشکلات خود را دارد، گفته است: «من تمام آنچه را انجام خواهم داد تا راه برای تحقق این روند هموار شده تا قانون و ادارات مربوط، رییس جمهور جدید را اعلام کند و من قدرت را به وی به روز پنجم عید سعید فطر بسپارم» -- در همین‌حال، شورای امنیت ملی در جلسه روز شنبه، بر تامین امنیت فزیکی نامزدان ریاست جمهوری تاکید کرده است. - هشت صبح

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Afghanistan Escapes Blacklist --- Afghan banks dodged an international black mark Friday when a watchdog organization gave the government another shot at cleaning up its corrupt banking system. --- Afghanistan narrowly missed being cut off from the global financial system Friday, after rushing through last-minute laws to crack down on criminal use of its banks. The near-miss underscores how the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan could undercut the security of Afghanistan’s fragile economy, as its notoriously corrupt banks can no longer hide from international scrutiny behind an American shield. -- The country was on the verge of being blacklisted -- along with Iran and North Korea -- by an intergovernmental organization that pressures countries to properly oversee banks to keep them from being used by terrorists, drug cartels, and corrupt politicians. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday deemed Afghanistan's eleventh-hour legislating sufficient to escape the blacklist -- for now. But it warned that Kabul should make progress on implementing the laws before the group's next meeting in October. -- Although FATF doesn't have the power to sanction banks, a black mark from the organization essentially has the same effect, as most international banks won't work with countries on the list. Losing the few global financial institutions still willing to work with Afghan banks would have been a major blow to the shaky Afghan economy as it weans itself from the foreign aid that has sustained the country for the last 13 years. -- In February, FATF, which sets standards for financial-crimes law, moved Afghanistan to the gray list of countries "not making sufficient progress." FATF threatened to move Afghanistan to the blacklist if it didn't criminalize money laundering, establish a system to trace terrorist money, and track the cash flowing back and forth across the country's porous borders. Outgoing President Hamid Karzai, who opposed those measures, reversed course at the last minute and signed a package of anti-money-laundering laws Wednesday. Although it forestalled harsher FATF action, the organization said it hasn't evaluated the legislation yet. -- The rampant corruption of and interconnectedness of the Afghan government and financial system complicated U.S. efforts in the Afghanistan war. The collapse of Kabul Bank in 2010 forced the United States to make a tough call between upholding law and order and accomplishing its military mission. - More, Foreign Policy,

Afghanistan Escapes Blacklisting Over Standards to Fight Money Laundering --- Financial Action Task Force Warns of Possible Blacklisting in October --- KABUL—Afghanistan's fragile financial system won a reprieve this week after an intergovernmental body said it wouldn't blacklist the country for failing to meet standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. -- The Financial Action Task Force, a global body that develops anti-money-laundering guidelines, said in a statement Friday that Afghanistan had "taken steps" toward meeting international standards, but warned that the country needed to bring measures into force to avoid landing on its blacklist in October. -- While such a move wouldn't automatically trigger sanctions, the few international banks still doing business with Afghan financial institutions would come under serious pressure to sever those links, Western officials say. -- The FATF said it wasn't clear whether the Afghan government had enacted appropriate legislation for combating the financing of terrorism, and whether a newly signed anti-money-laundering law went far enough to comply with standards. -- "If Afghanistan does not bring into force CFT [combating financing of terrorism] legislation and issue the necessary regulations compliant with the international standards by the October 2014 FATF meetings, the FATF will call upon its members and other jurisdictions to consider the ML/TF [money laundering/terrorism financing] risks arising from the deficiencies in Afghanistan," the statement read. -- The Afghan government said late Wednesday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had signed the anti-money-laundering law. But an international official familiar with the situation said it wasn't clear whether Mr. Karzai had signed a related piece of legislation on combating terrorism financing, as noted by FATF. -- "Our team this morning is running around trying to find out from the government if that has been done," the official said. "We're still awaiting some kind of confirmation that it's been signed. We're still trying to run that down." -- The FATF met this week to review Afghanistan's progress on improving its measures to halt money laundering and terrorism financing. Afghan and international officials were worried that a blacklisting would deal a major blow to the country's already-vulnerable financial system, further isolating Afghan financial institutions from international counterparts. -- Last year, Frankfurt-based Commerzbank AG CBK.XE +0.78% Commerzbank AG Germany: Xetra €11.65 +0.09 +0.78% June 27, 2014 5:35 pm Volume : 6.67M P/E Ratio 29.87 Market Cap €13.26 Billion Dividend Yield N/A Rev. per Employee €347,653 06/28/14 Afghanistan Escapes Blacklisti... 06/27/14 Oil Futures Post Weekly Losses 06/27/14 Hungary Wants Banks to Compens... More quote details and news » CBK.XE in Your Value Your Change Short position , one of the world's major clearing banks, decided to sharply curtail its U.S.-dollar business in Afghanistan. Afghan bankers say that move has already made it more difficult for Afghan importers and investors to conduct transactions. -- "Being blacklisted will have major tangible and psychological implications for the private sector, doing business, and investment climate in Afghanistan," said Harakat, a civic organization that promotes economic development in Afghanistan, in a news release urging passage of the legislation. "The tangible implications will consist of extra costs and more steps in financial transactions." -- Afghanistan International Bank, a private lender, has said it has been assured by Commerzbank and Standard Chartered STAN.LN -0.87% Standard Chartered PLC U.K.: London GBp1192.50 -10.50 -0.87% June 27, 2014 5:07 pm Volume : 7.59M P/E Ratio 0.11 Market Cap GBp29.44 Billion Dividend Yield 5.69% Rev. per Employee GBp188,767 06/28/14 Afghanistan Escapes Blacklisti... 06/26/14 China Flags 'Improper' Gold-Ba... 06/26/14 Shares in Barclays, Standard C... More quote details and news » STAN.LN in Your Value Your Change Short position PLC that they will maintain correspondent relations with AIB. -- The Afghan presidential palace didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the law combating terrorism financing had in fact been signed. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined to comment and referred questions to the FATF. - More, WSJ,

Afghan president may not have signed terror finance law: source --- But international officials in the Afghan capital have since told Reuters only one of the two laws needed to avoid the blacklist had been signed by Thursday night. -- "One was signed, the anti-money laundering law," an official close to the matter said, adding that the officials were trying to determine if the second measure had been signed. -- The laws are part of measures needed to save Afghanistan from being blacklisted by the international watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). -- "The meeting is still happening in Paris, the question is whether the combating the financing of terrorism law has been signed," a second official said. -- The president's press office confirmed on Friday the law fighting money laundering had been signed, but did not comment on the law to battle the financing of terrorism. -- Banking and government officials are hoping eleventh-hour efforts to push through the legislation will convince the FATF Afghanistan has done enough to prove it is serious about cracking down on money laundering and terrorist financing. -- If Afghanistan goes on the watchdog's blacklist, its banks could be cut off from the global financial system, disrupting up to $10 billion worth of annual imports, putting all sectors of its aid-dependent economy under strain. -- Many banks have already stopped dealing with Afghanistan because of weak regulation and last month most Afghan banks were dealt a fresh blow when their Chinese counterparts abruptly put a halt to dollar transactions. -- The FATF watchdog is expected to discuss Afghanistan on Friday, the last day of a meeting that started from June 23. - More,

Outcomes from the meeting of the FATF Plenary, Paris, 25-27 June 2014 --- Paris, 27 June 2014 - Under the Russian Presidency, the third FATF Plenary meeting of FATF-XXV was held on 25-27 June 2014. The main issues dealt with by this Plenary were: -- •Producing two public documents as part of its ongoing work to identify jurisdictions that may pose a risk to the international financial system: - More,

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Atlantic -- Hamid Karzai: 'I Didn't See a War in Afghanistan—I Saw a Conspiracy' --- When was the moment you felt most vulnerable physically? That your life was seriously in danger? -- Well, I had a vision for this country—of unity. That Afghanistan becomes the country for all Afghans—that, we have achieved. Afghans of all colors, all political thinking, of all parts of this country feel absolutely free in this country. I had a vision for a democratic Afghanistan, for human rights, and for the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Those were visions, and the last elections a few days ago proved that was achievable and we achieved it. A vision of Afghanistan that had its presence around the world—that has been achieved. Of an Afghanistan that would not be under the thumb of a foreign power, that has been achieved. We showed our independence, which was one of my strongest desires—ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan this was my desire…. Today, we have independent foreign policy—with Iran we have great relations, with America we have, with China we have, with Russia we have. -- Democracy is the model. This is the vision. Unity is the model—an Afghan nation is the model. The nation of Afghanistan, where all citizens of the country are equal partners of this country, and equal owners of this country. --- Was there a country you had in mind in the region, or you wanted a completely new model? -- This is more a Western application of terminology to my style of leadership. When I was consulting with all the Afghan leaders eight years ago, nine years ago, seven years ago, they accused me of having a consultative government rather than a presidential, authoritarian government. Because they did not want me to be a president that brings people together—they wanted me weak, and in conflict with the rest of the leadership of this country. So they tried to attack my style in order to—they knew what I was doing, that I had the broadest contact with the people of Afghanistan. They knew that I was meeting with hundreds of people every day, and that’s exactly what they didn’t want. They wanted an isolated president, a president they could use. The more consultative I was, the more in contact with the country I was, the less they could use me. So they wanted the reverse of it. My style of leadership was not in the sense of a Western president, relying only on state institutions and government institutions—that is true. I relied the very least on government institutions. I was more in alliance [with], and relying upon, the Afghan people and the information they gave me. The Afghan government rarely provided me the information that I needed. All my decisions, all my statements, all were based on the information that I received from the country, rather than information from the institutions. So they didn’t want that—because the Americans could filter the information. --- But Mr. President, doesn’t that go against one of the mandates that you had after 2001—[a mandate for] institution-building? -- No, the government has to be built up. The government doesn’t have to be fakely admired and kept weak. The government had to be built up, the government had to be forced to provide true information to the president. The government was told not to hide things. The government was told to reflect the truth. I sent a delegation once to Khas Uruzgan, about nine years ago. From the ministry of defense, interior, and other institutions—I don’t exactly remember now. The information that they brought to me was entirely different than the information that the people gave me from that area. And what the people had told me was true, what my own government had told me was not true. I am not the president of the government—I was the president of Afghanistan, of the Afghan people. The job of the president is to serve the people, and the job of the government is to serve the people, not to hide from the people and to hide atrocities on the people from the president. --- And that mistrust in the government— It was not a mistrust. It was realization of a fact—of a true situation, of the fact on the ground. The fact on the ground was that the Afghan government was weak, that it had no capacity, that it had no means of movement, that it could not provide the president of the country with the information that related to the facts on the ground, that related to what the people felt and knew. So for me, it was one of my greatest successes—one of my greatest victories, if you can call it that, was my contact with the people. I bring to the information of the government things that have happened in the country, I tell them in the security meetings that well, you know, this has happened. --- That your own non-governmental sources tell you? -- Tremendously, tremendously. The next president will not be in the situation I was in. The next president will have better institutions to rely on, but I will advise him, again, that he must also be connected to the people and get information from the people. See, the Western opinion is trying to promote a model of governance here where the government is working for itself rather than for the people. We are not anything else but the servants of the people. --- That realization was always there—that a Western model was not going to work? -- The Western model itself is trying to be more connected to the people—they themselves are not doing what they are asking us to do. The Americans and the Western media were trying to create a situation here whereby the Afghan government will be alien to its people, reliant on the West. -- While the modern ideals of—it’s no longer modern … the established ideals, I should say—of political parties and interests and functions as the West is doing has merits of its own, a strong foundation for such a system can only be found in a political system more reliant on communities rather than political parties. --- Mr. President, you wrote an essay in the 1980s called “Attitude of the Leadership of Afghan Tribes Towards the Regime” [in which] you explored how the tribes remained loyal to the king Zahir Shah. And you mentioned a phrase—that the tribes served as a link between the periphery and the center. - Very true. ---- When you took over the government, sir, was your analysis that the social structures were heavily disrupted—that you had to revitalize [them] to meet this vision of participation—or were they there? -- This is a very important subject—a subject that Afghan scholars should study in detail. When we began to fight the Soviets, and when we began to receive funds from abroad as mujahideen, we faced a dual calamity. That dual calamity was an effort by the former Soviet Union, through their communist allies in Afghanistan, to superimpose a structure on the Afghan people. The other part of it was in the form of the supporters of the Afghan mujahideen—U.S., some Western countries, Pakistan especially—trying to superimpose another model on the Afghan people, in which both of them tried to undermine the traditional Afghan social structure, which was a great guarantor of stability and security. And the consequence of that for Afghanistan: massive tragedy, one unseen in the 20th and 21st [centuries]. What we describe as civil society, in our sense of it—the Afghan sense of it—in the countryside, the modes of adjudications of disputes … we don’t have words for them in English—meeraw, kalantar-e-kocha, malik, and various elements, the clergy and the spiritual elements—a combination of these forces bringing a cohesion and the resolution of disputes to the country. There was an effort to uproot this and destroy this. That is why, along the political imposition of these two alien models on Afghan society, there was also an effort to physically eliminate Afghan community leaders—the traditional khans, the maliks, the mullahs. Even in the past 10 years, this has happened on a massive scale. It happened in Afghanistan, it happened in Pakistan especially on the Pashtuns. So both the Soviets and the Western backers of our jihad tried to do this—and Pakistan did this in particular … to undermine the Pashtuns, to weaken their society, and to render them in the name of religion helpless in their own country, and usable by the Pakistanis for their own purposes. --- What you inherited, was it resilient enough, after having so many blows— -- Look! We still survived. Very resilient, centuries old. Two things proved resilient in Afghanistan—the traditional social structures, and the unity of the Afghan people. No other country would have survived such massive blows to its unity and to its social structures, but Afghanistan did survive it. The moment we got together in 2001, it was once again a united country. The jirgas came back, the people came back, and the unity came back. --- One criticism of you, sir, is that you never became a commander in chief. You were never comfortable using force. -- Does this come from what you told The Washington Post—that you are an inherently pacifist person? -- Definitely, definitely. For two reasons. One, I am a pacifist in my heart, in my core beliefs. Two, I didn’t see a war in Afghanistan we should have fought, I saw a conspiracy. And my effort was to repel the conspiracy in which the Afghan blood was shed. So my purposes were different from those of the Americans or NATO. --- But in the initial years you did see a war? -- No, I never saw a war. The Taliban left without a fight. But then the Americans—I was in Kabul, without access to the country in the initial days, and without the tools of governance, which are still very weak—they went around with thugs from our own country, the militias they employed and themselves, and forced the Taliban back into taking guns. And Pakistan was willing, and ready to use the opportunity. So a war was created in Afghanistan—there was no war, there is no war, and I would never agree to be at war in my own country. I would never be a commander in chief fighting a war among my own people. No. I am happy I wasn’t, and I will not be. --- Does that conflict with your idea of pacifism, though? -- Pacifism is a different issue here. I would never go to war with anybody. But I will never ever be involved in an internal conflict, in particular. Right now it’s Afghans dying on both sides, and that should end. Therefore I never wanted to be a commander in chief where [an] Afghan kills another Afghan. I saw that war as a conspiracy. Afghan-wazhena (Afghan-killing), they call [it] in Pashto. It can’t be translated into English. Afghan-kushi, they call it in Farsi. Here, it is Afghan-wazhena since the Soviet invasion until now. And our own forces, our own soldiers, are busy with themselves. Which planes of ours bombed foreigners? Which tank of ours went and defended our borders? All of them were used on our own, inside our own territory—we were ruined with our own hands. This is what I am standing against. And the Americans and Westerners promote this—that we be busy with each other and they implement their designs, on us and on the region. They can implement their designs, but not at our cost, not at the cost of our ruins, at the cost of conquering us—but in our progress, in our friendship. --- Do you think power has changed you in 12 years? -- No, not at all. --- Your principles are the same? -- My principles are the same, my way of life is the same, my thinking is the same. I don’t see power—I see … working. -- More, Mujib Mashal,

رمضان بشر دوست -- در مسله آقاي ضياالحق امرخيل آقای معنوي دست داشت --- بشر دوست میگوید : من مسله امرخیل را تعقیب کرده و در مورد تحقیق کردم. آقای معنوی قبل از ختم دوره ریاست اش با امرخیل در جنگ میشود. این جنگ به سرحدی میرسد که بادی گاردان هردو بالای یک دیگر سلاح میکشند. این جنگ به اندازه قوی میشود که برای دوهفته کارمندان خارجی سازمان ملل که مقر دفتر شان در داخل کمیسیون است برای نبود امنیت به دفتر نمیروند و در کمپاوند سازمان ملل به کار ادامه میدهند -- دو هفته بعد آقای معنوی از ریاست کمیسیون میرود, اما مشکل به همان طور میماند. آقای معنوی در دور اول انتخابات تقلب در حدود 1.5 میلیون رأی را به نفع داکتر عبدالله سازمان دهی میکند. این سازماندهی به اندازه قوی است که کمیسیون انتخابات و کمیسیون شکایات انتخاباتی نمیتوانند, آن را ردیابی کنند. کمیسیون های انتخاباتی خوب میفهمد که این همه آرا تقلبی است, اما بر اساس کمبود و یا هم نبود اسناد و دلایل کافی نمیتواند که در مورد تصمیم بگیرد. اما دفتر یوناما یک تحقیق جامع را برای کمیسیون در مورد چگونگی تقلب انجام میدهد و بر اساس همان تحقیق, امرخیل راه را برای تقلب گسترده داکتر عبدالله میبندد -- آقای معنوی صرف میتواند در حدود 5 لک رأی تقلبی برای داکتر عبدالله در دور دوم بیآورد و اضافه تر از آن ناممکن میشود. همان است که آقای معنوی در صدد میشود تا اسناد علیه امرخیل پیدا کند تا ناکامی اش را هم بپوشاند و هم در عین حال در مقابل امرخیل, دشمن دیرینه اش, دسیسه کند. این دسیسه کامیاب میشود و امرخیل از سمت اش کنار میرود

Ashraf Ghani claims Afghan presidential election victory --- Ashraf Ghani believes he has won Afghanistan's heavily contested presidential election by more than 1.3 million votes, according to data compiled by his campaign team. -- Ghani said the vocal support of clerics, a higher turnout of women, a series of televised town-hall style meetings and polling day transport for potential voters enabled him to pick up support from more than 2 million extra voters in the second round of the poll. -- "One of the reasons, the most significant, is that we convened a meeting of more than 3,000 ulema [(Islamic scholars] … these, after they endorsed us, carried out a mosque-to-mosque campaign, issued fatwas and [held] Friday prayers where they asked the women to participate," the former World Bank official told journalists at a news conference in Kabul. -- Unofficial data collected and released by his team estimates he won 4.2m votes in a runoff on 14 June, while his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, claimed 2.9m. In the first round Ghani received 2.1m votes. -- Plans to release the first phase of results this week were put on hold after Abdullah, a former foreign minister and mujahideen doctor, said the results had been skewed by "blatant fraud" and withdrew from the vote-counting process. -- On Friday he organised protests across Kabul, with thousands of demonstrators marching through the city to meet near the presidential palace. Some carried anti-fraud banners but others were shouting "Death to Ghani" and "Death to [vice-presidential candidate Abdul Rashid] Dostum." -- Abdullah's team has accused electoral authorities of colluding with Ghani to steal the election, and released audio recordings of phone calls in which officials discuss ballot box stuffing with a very crude code, calling the containers of votes "stuffed sheep". -- Abdullah said the man caught on tape was the chief election officer, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, and demanded his resignation or removal as a condition of returning to the formal election process. Amarkhil stepped down the day after the recordings were made public, but said they had been faked and he was only giving up his job for the sake of national unity. -- Ghani has strongly denied the fraud allegations, saying his team had been victims, not perpetrators, of fraud. They had filed more than 1,800 complaints to the official election monitors, Ghani told journalists, adding that he would reject any ballot cast for him that was found to be illegal. -- He said it was vital for Afghanistan to stick to a schedule of announcing preliminary results on 2 July, and then resolving any disputes in time for a 2 August inauguration. Invitations have already been sent out to some diplomats by the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai. -- Afghanistan's economy has been put on hold by the uncertainty surrounding the leadership, and the international community is waiting to make crucial decisions about long-term support after soldiers leave the country. -- "The international calendar cannot wait," Ghani said. "Governance is at a standstill. People want certainty, not ambiguity. We, the people, must have clarity." -- All Nato combat forces are due to leave by the end of this year. A few thousand soldiers may stay to help train the Afghan army, but Karzai has refused to sign a long-term cooperation deal with the US that provides a legal framework for the mission. He has said it is a decision for his successor. -- Abdullah has called for United Nations mediation, which Ghani said he would welcome; a senior UN envoy has warned them there must be a winner and a loser, and called for "statesmanship, not gamesmanship". - More, Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul - Guardian

U.S. job far from done in Afghanistan --- As the United States draws down its forces in Afghanistan and shifts from direct combat to the narrower mission of countering terrorism and training Afghan forces, some might think this is the time to declare “job done” and focus U.S. attention elsewhere. That would be a mistake. As the current violence in Iraq illustrates, the gains won by our military are fragile. Peace, once won, must be sustained. -- Afghanistan is now in the delicate process of laying the foundation for a democratic political transition – the first since President Hamid Karzai assumed the presidency. As many as 7 million Afghans, or around 60 percent of eligible voters, have twice defied the Taliban and cast ballots to select the country’s next president, first in the general election and again in this month’s runoff. -- The high turnout and lower level of violence than many had expected are a testament to how non-violent conflict resolution and peacebuilding can multiply and solidify the investments of the United States and the sacrifices made by American troops. The potential for international assistance to help resolve electoral disputes that have cropped up in the past week illustrates the need for continuing engagement. -- Organizations like the United States Institute of Peace, which we both serve, have been helping create the conditions for a peaceful transition that will make Afghanistan more stable and less violent, while improving the lives of the Afghan people. A stable and prosperous Afghanistan can be a vital ally of the United States in a troubled region, and will help ensure that al Qaeda and its associates never again gain a foothold in the region’s mountains and valleys. -- Investing in the powerful tools of peacebuilding is both effective and cost-effective, but peacebuilding takes time. Some of the best-spent dollars are those used to prevent or reduce conflicts that can engulf regions and threaten American interests, investments that foster strong allies and partners. We should heed the lessons of our experience in Germany and South Korea, where our unflagging, long-term commitments in the aftermath of war have established thriving partnerships with now-critical allies. -- For the past several years, U.S. and other international organizations in Afghanistan have been supporting local institutions and civil society groups, working hand-in-hand to develop and employ innovative approaches that would help ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent election. -- Afghans organized forums where women challenged presidential hopefuls on economic, political and social issues, and the country’s burgeoning media outlets promoted an almost non-stop run of televised candidate debates. At the grassroots level, activists organized poetry competitions that drew on treasured Afghan traditions, and ran a radio show to raise awareness about rule of law. There was even a rap video contest to devise an election anthem, and graffiti promoting a peaceful election, to engage the youth who are so important to the process and to Afghanistan’s future. -- The Afghan-led efforts were underpinned by research, expertise and financial backing from the U.S. and other international donors. The outcome might help U.S. troops and their NATO-coalition partners to withdraw most of their military forces, as planned, with greater confidence that the gains won by more than a decade of fighting can be sustained. -- Tools for preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict – national or interfaith dialogue, facilitation skills, multiparty negotiations, and education and training to build support for the rule of law are just a few – will become only more crucial as technology spreads and global power becomes more diffuse. And the costs of such tools are relatively modest. USIP’s recent annual congressional appropriations of about $35 million equals approximately the amount needed to field one light infantry rifle platoon in Afghanistan. Imagine what we could achieve with even more concerted efforts and funding for peacebuilding and conflict resolution. -- Well-done and well-resourced, peacebuilding can help prevent the loss of American lives, enhance American security and preserve U.S. tax dollars, while relieving human suffering and demonstrating America’s commitment to peace. It maximizes other U.S. government investments in diplomacy, foreign assistance and the armed forces. It also strengthens local institutions around the world that can sustain long-term campaigns against deadly violence for decades after America’s investment ends. - More, Stephen J. Hadley and Kristin M. Lord, Special to CNN,

سنگین: مشخص نیست کی شنود مکالمات را انجام داده است --- وزیر مخابرات افغانستان می گوید که تحقیقات در مورد شنود مکالمات اخیر که توسط ستاد انتخاباتی عبدالله عبدالله به نشر رسید، وظیفۀ ارگان های عدلی و قضای افغانستان می باشد. امیرزی سنگین گفت: "براساس قانون اساسی افغانستان، مکالمات تلیفونی تمام شهروندان این کشور مصئون است اما در چوکات قانون و حکم محکمه می توان شنود مکالمات را انجام داد." --- نشر مکالمات تلیفونی توسط ستاد عبدالله عبدالله که ادعا می شود مربوط ضیاالحق امرخیل رئیس پیشین دارالانشای کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان باشد و در یک مورد تازه، نشر صحبت های که ادعا می شود مربوط والی ولایت میدان وردک، سر و صدای های زیادی را در رسانه ها و محافل اجتماعی ایجاد کرده است. آقای سنگین می گوید، وزارت مخابرات تلاش می ورزد تمام مکالمات افغان ها مصؤون باشد اما علاوه می کند که تا کنون روشن نشده که "این مکالمات توسط کی و کدام وسایل ثبت شده است." وزیر مخابرات افغانستان از دو نوع شنود مکالمات صحبت می کند. یکی آن که "توسط سیستم های قانونی براساس قانون به سیستم های مخابراتی وصل است." -- به گفتۀ آقای سنگین، "با پیگیری آن سیستم ها می توان پی برد که شنود مکالمات توسط کدام ارگان صورت گرفته است و دوم هم از طریق سیستم های استخباراتی که مغلق و پیشرفته می باشد." وزیر مخابرات افغانستان به این باور است که باید در قدم نخست روشن شود "شنود توسط کدام نوع سیستم صورت گرفته زیرا سیستم های غیرقانونی هم وجود دارد به طور غیرقانونی وارد افغانستان می شود و وزارت مخابرات جلو آن را گرفته نمی تواند." --- افتضاح ویکی لیکس -- اما شنود مکالمات تلیفونی در افغانستان تنها در دورۀ مبارزات انتخاباتی صورت نگرفته و این روند در جریان چند سال اخیر – بر اساس گزارش های ویکی لیکس – وجود داشته است. گزارش افشا شده توسط ویکی لیکس مبنی بر شنود مکالمات افغان ها توسط ادارۀ امنیت ملی ایالات متحده، عکس العمل شدید دولت افغانستان را در پی داشت. وزیر مخابرات افغانستان در مصاحبه با فواد لامع، خبرنگار تلویزیون آشنا گفت که پس از نشر گزارش، کابینه افغانستان تصمیم گرفت تا "سیستم که در عرصۀ مبارزه با موادمخدر در وزارت داخلۀ افغانستان نصب شده بود و گمان برده شد که ایالات متحده شنود مکالمات افغان ها را توسط همان سیستم انجام داده است – قطع شود." آقای سنگین می گوید که اکنون آن سیستم قطع می باشد اما "سیستم شنود مکالمات در چوکات ریاست امنیت ملی افغانستان فعال است." -- با ایجاد ادعا های مبنی بر تقلب توسط یک ستاد انتخاباتی علیه رقیب آن، جنجال ها و عمل و عکس العمل های میان استفاده کنندگان صفحات اجتماعی به خصوص فیسبوک ایجاد شده است. به تعقیب آن، برخی از وکلای پارلمان به منظور کاهش و جلوگیری از افزایش اینگونه تشنج ها، خواهان مسدود شدن فیسبوک شدند. وزیر مخابرات افغانستان اما می گوید که "مسدود کردن فیسبوک یک تصمیم بسیار بزرگ است" و فکر می کند که "شورای امنیت افغانستان باید در این راستا تصمیم بگیرد" تا روشن شود که چقدر این اقدام به نفع منافع ملی افغانستان است. آقای سنگین می گوید: "از دیدگاه من فیسبوک یک شبکۀ اجتماعی مفید بوده و جوانان افغان از طریق آن شبکه در روند دمکراسی سهم فعالی داشتند." اما آقای سنگین خاطر نشان می کند که این "شبکه اضراری را نیز با خود دارد." --- قطع ارسال پیام های کتبی -- وزیر مخابرات افغانستان به صدای امریکا گفت که به خاطر جلوگیری از ارسال پیام های کتبی به یک کتلۀ بزرگ از شهروندان افغان در ایام سکوت، در دور نخست انتخابات تصمیم گرفتند تا ارسال پیام های کتبی را قطع کنند. اما به گفتۀ آقای سنگین در دور دوم، پس از تحقیقات دریافتند که پیام ها با استفاده از انترنیت و آن هم از خارج افغانستان به مردم ارسال می شد. به همین دلیل، به گفتۀ وزیر مخابرات آن وزارت به تصمیم "شخص خودم از تمام شبکه های مخابراتی خواست تا جلو انتقال پیام های کتبی را از خارج به داخل افغانستان بگیرد." -- وزیر مخابرات افغانستان در بخش تذکره های الکترونیکی گفت که مشکلات موجود در فراراه توزیع تذکره های الکترونیکی رفع شده است. آقای سنگین توزیع تذکره های الکترونیکی را به منظور ثبت درست رقم نفوس افغانستان نهایت مهم دانسته می گوید که وزارت داخلۀ افغانستان روند ثبت نام تذکره های الکترونیکی را در شهر کابل آغاز کرده است. وزیر مخابرات افغانستان ابراز امیدواری کرد که یا دو سال آینده همۀ شهروندان افغان در سرتاسر آن کشور "از کارت هویت با اعتبار، مصؤون و غیرقابل جهل برخوردار باشند." - صدای امریکا

Tensions with Afghanistan complicate Pakistani offensive --- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan has evacuated more than 450,000 civilians from a terrorist-plagued district in the northwestern part of the country, but its offensive against the militants there is complicated by fresh tension with neighboring Afghanistan. -- With the North Waziristan campaign in its second week, officials say most civilians have left the remote, mountainous area, home to thousands of militants affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban and groups such as the Haqqani network. More than 350 militants have been killed, and military commanders say a full-scale ground invasion is imminent. -- The area’s porous border with Afghanistan makes it likely, however, that some militants have escaped. Pakistan says Afghanistan is not doing enough to bolster surveillance of its side of the border. Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah is thought to live in Afghanistan, and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has personally appealed to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to help dislodge him. -- “So far, there has been no action on the part of the Afghan government to dismantle [Pakistani Taliban] hideouts,” said Pakistani Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa. “We want them to take action.” -- In recent days, Afghan commanders have been largely dismissive of such concerns, saying they are doing all they can to help their Pakistani counterparts. --- Karzai’s security forces have been locked in a nearly week-long battle with hundreds of Afghan Taliban militants in the southern province of Helmand. On Thursday, Afghan officials accused Pakistani military and intelligence officials of supporting the Afghan militants. -- “From a security point of view, we have taken all necessary measures to make sure that combatants, destructive elements and intelligence infiltrators are not amongst the refugees who have come to this side” of the border, said Abdul Hasib Seddiqi, a spokesman for the Afghan National Directorate of Security. “There is no Pakistani Taliban leader or group that operates in Afghanistan . . . Pakistan makes such accusations in order to justify its rocket attacks on our soil.” -- U.S. officials have been stymied for years in their efforts to get Pakistan and Afghanistan to work together to combat border terrorists. The challenge is taking on more urgency as American forces continue to draw down in Afghanistan. - More, Washingtonpost,

Death toll rises in southern Afghanistan battle --- KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The death toll from a week of fighting between Afghan forces and hundreds of Taliban militants in a southern province rose above 100, officials said Thursday, while the U.N. called on all parties to protect civilians who are increasingly caught in the crossfire. -- The battle is shaping up as a major test of the government’s ability to maintain security in volatile areas after foreign combat troops leave by the end of 2014, increasing the urgency for the government to sign a security pact with the United States that would allow nearly 10,000 American forces to stay in the country for two more years. -- Outgoing President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the deal, saying he would leave it to his successor after results are announced in the recent presidential election. Both candidates vying to replace Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from a third term, have promised to sign the pact. But the process has been stalled by fraud allegation in the June 14 runoff vote pitting former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah against former finance minister and World Bank official Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. -- The government has deployed nearly 2,000 reinforcements since the Taliban offensive against checkpoints and government buildings in Helmand province began on Sunday. -- The provincial governor, Mohammad Naeem Baloch, accused the Pakistani army of orchestrating the assault that began in Helmand’s Sangin province and spread. Afghan authorities frequently blame neighboring Pakistan of fomenting violence and backing Taliban attacks in the wartorn country. -- Baloch said at least 135 people have been killed, including 30 policemen, 35 civilians and 70 Taliban fighters, since the start of the fighting. He also said 25 Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded, although he did not provide a breakdown. -- “We are launching an operation to clear the area and very soon this area will be cleaned again,” he told reporters. -- An American soldier also was killed in an attack by enemy forces Wednesday in southern Afghanistan. The U.S.-led international coalition said provided no other details in its statement. But a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity in exchange for releasing the information ahead of an official announcement, confirmed the soldier’s nationality. The death brought to 11 the number of NATO service members killed so far this month, with eight of the fatalities being American. So far this year, 40 NATO troops have died in Afghanistan, including 29 Americans, according to an Associated Press tally. --- The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said it was “deeply concerned” about the rising number of civilian deaths and injuries in Helmand province. It said it has documented at least 30 civilians killed and 35 others wounded in the district of Sangin alone. Citing health authorities, victims and witnesses it said the casualties were largely due to mortar strikes on civilian homes and civilians caught in cross fire and roadside bombings. -- “All parties to the conflict are obliged to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians during military operations,” the chief U.N. envoy in Afghanistan Jan Kubis said in a statement. - More, Associated Press,

Electing Afghanistan's New President --- Afghanistan was a monarchy until 1973 when the king's brother-in-law and first cousin, ousted him in a coup. The latter then proceeded to dissolve the 200-year-old institution of the monarchy and installed himself as president. In 1978, a group of Soviet-trained Afghan army officers deposed him. The next president was allegedly suffocated via a pillow by his successor in 1979, who, in turn, was shot to death in his palace in December 1979 by the Soviet troops, who claimed that they had come to his assistance! It cannot therefore be said that Afghanistan has not had elements of high melodrama regarding who and in what circumstances would occupy the position of head of state. The proverb, "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown", is apposite in the case of 20th century Afghanistan. --- Following 9/11, Hamid Karzai, who served for some time as a Deputy Foreign Minister in the post-Soviet withdrawal government, headed by an Afghan resistance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, was elected President of Afghanistan in 2004. In 2009, he contested the presidential election again, which he was allowed to do under the Afghan constitution. This time around, he faced a formidable opponent in his own former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. The election was marred by wide-spread allegations of rigging. In the run-off, Abdullah -- fearing that Karzai had stacked the deck against him -- walked away from the election. -- A successful outcome of this process is hugely important for beleaguered Afghanistan and its long-suffering people who deserve peace and tranquility free from civil war. A legitimately elected president would be the first step in negotiating a durable peace with the Taliban by involving them in the governmental process. Afghanistan's neighbors, particularly Pakistan -- which has been most affected by the civil war in Afghanistan through a spill-over of violent extremism -- would be relieved if peace and stability finally comes to Afghanistan. --- More, S. Azmat Hassan,

Obama to Central American parents: Don't send children to US border --- (Reuters) - President Barack Obama appealed to Central American parents on Thursday to not send their children to the U.S. southern border in his most forceful comments yet on the emerging humanitarian crisis that is causing him political problems. -- "Do not send your children to the borders,” Obama told ABC News. "If they do make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it." -- Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the United States in recent months, overwhelming processing centers and leading to criticism of Obama's immigration policies from Republicans. -- While U.S. officials attributed the spike to poverty and rising gang violence in Central America, the U.S. government has sought to dispel any notion by parents that their children might qualify to stay in the United States as part of immigration reform efforts before the U.S. Congress. -- "Our message absolutely is don't send your children unaccompanied, on trains or through a bunch of smugglers,” Obama told ABC. “We don't even know how many of these kids don't make it, and may have been waylaid into sex trafficking or killed because they fell off a train." - More,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pakistan 'unprepared' for refugees fleeing operation against Taliban --- Almost half million flee planned army action in North Waziristan, with displaced and others accusing government over relief effort --- That Pakistan's army was likely to unleash a military onslaught against Taliban safe havens near the Afghan border has been an open secret for months. But authorities have been condemned for a lack of preparedness for the inevitable exodus of refugees, now living in miserable conditions after fleeing fighting in North Waziristan. -- About 466,000 people have poured out of the tribal agency bordering Afghanistan following the start on 15 June of a long-awaited effort to stamp out the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups who have made the region their home. There was little infrastructure awaiting the internally displaced people (IDPs) who continue to enter Bannu, a district among one of Pakistan's least developed. -- Soldiers have fired live rounds to deter furious crowds of IDPs, who complain there is no shelter, not enough to eat and that they have been barred from moving to other areas of Pakistan. -- Ghani Rahman, waiting at an aid distribution point in Bannu, said the government had offered nothing. -- "This food is not from the Pakistan government, it is from the WFP," said the 55-year-old, referring to the UN's World Food Programme. "We are very thankful to the WFP because otherwise my family could not survive." -- Other groups stepping in to fill the gap with humanitarian assistance include foreign government aid agencies and wealthy Pakistani businessmen. -- IDPs complain of people charging extortionate rent for basic shelter and Islamabad's failure to hand over promised financial handouts. -- Although a temporary camp has been set up in the nearby "frontier region", few have been willing to move there, arguing it is insecure. Many have instead commandeered space in government schools and colleges. -- Dawn, one of Pakistan's leading newspapers, described the relief effort "as one of the more miserable and haphazard IDP management programmes in memory". - More, Guardian,

Days of Terror: Iraqi Christians Live in Fear of ISIS --- Some 40,000 Christians live in Qaraqosh, a town near Mosul, Iraq. Residents have been gathering daily in 12 local churches as ISIS jihadists advance towards the community. Their existence is a precarious one. -- It was the evening of Tuesday, June 10 when Salam Kihkhwa walked into a mobile phone shop in the Qaraqosh city center to purchase more minutes for his phone. Kihkhwa surfs the Internet for several hours each day and was carrying an iPhone 5s in his hand as he navigated his way past brackish puddles on the edge of the road. He set a few wrinkled dinar notes down on the counter to pay for a pack of Winchesters. Just at that moment, he recalls, he heard the scream: "The jihadists are in the city!" - More,

Der Spiegel -- Abbreviations Explained: How to Read the NSA Documents --- NOFORN, SIGDEV, WHARPDRIVE: Intelligence services are fond of code names and abbreviations. This glossary helps explain important terms. -- BfV -- Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. This is Germany's domestic intelligence agency and it cooperates closely with the NSA. In addition to the federal office, there are state offices in each of Germany's 16 states, all of which work closely with the BfV. -- BND -- The Bundesnachrichtendienst, Germany's foreign intelligence agency. It cooperates closely with the NSA, particularly on counter-terrorism. -- Boundless Informant -- This NSA computer program generates heat maps displaying the amount of metadata the NSA has at its disposal at any given time and can be sorted by country. The display is color coded, with green indicating a lower amount of data and red showing a high amount. -- BSI -- The Federal Office for Information Security. Once a part of the BND, this agency works under the auspices of Germany's Interior Ministry. It is responsible for the protection of government networks, among other duties. -- More,

امنیت شورا له افغان کاندیدانو وغوښتل چې له پاروونکو اقداماتو ډډه وکړي --- د افغانستان په انتخاباتي بهیر کې د عبدالله عبدالله د همپالنې او اصلاحاتو د ټیم له لوري له رامنځته شوي خنډه وروسته د ملګروملتو امنیت شورا له افغان سیاستوالو وغوښتل چې له داسي اقداماتو ځان وساتي چې په سبب یې په افغانستان کې تاوتریخوالی او بې ثباتي راولاړېږي. -- سره له دې چې د انتخاباتو د خپلواک کمیسیون د دارالانشا له ریاسته ضیاالحق امرخېل اسعفا ورکړه، عبدالله عبدالله لا هم حاضر شوی نه دی چې د انتخاباتو له خپلواک کمیسیون سره په انتخاباتي پروسې کې همکاري وکړي.-- ویل کېږي چې عبدالله له خپلو پلویانو غوښتي چې سبا /جمعه/ پراخې مظاهرې وکړي. -- خو امنیت شورا بې له دې چې د عبدالله عبدالله نوم واخلي، ویلي:» دا شورا له ټولو اړخونو غواړي چې د افغانستان له انتخاباتي موسسو او انتخاباتي بهیر سره اړیکې وساتي او د هغو پرېکړو ته درناوی وکړي.» -- امنیت شورا همداراز ویلي چې د افغانستان سیاستوال باید داسي اقدامات ونه کړي چې په هیواد کې یې ګډوډۍ او بې ثباتۍ ته لمن وهل کېږي. -- امنیت شورا د افغانستان د ولسمشرۍ کاندیدانو ته سپارښتنه کړې چې د انتخاباتو په اړه هر راز اعتراض او شکایت باید د قانوني چاینلونو او میکانیزمونو له لارې او د افغانستان د انتخاباتو د قانون مطابق اړوندو ادارو (شکایتونو کمیسیون) ته وړاندې کړي. -- د امنیت شورا اعلامیه زیاتوي، ملګري ملتونه د افغانستان له قوانینو سره سم د انتخاباتو د بهیرپایلې او د منظم واک لېږد ته انتظار باسي او د افغانستان لپاره د ملګروملتونو د مرستندوی دفتر یوناما د ملاتړ د هڅو ستاینه کوي. -- امنیت شورا د انتخاباتو او انتخاباتي شکایتونو د دوو کمیسیونونو په ګډون د انتخاباتو د اړوند موسسو د ونډې پر اهمیت ټینګار کوي او په خپل بیان کې د انتخاباتو پر مسوولو ادارو غږ کوي چې په دې مهم او تاریخي بهیر کې په پوره صداقت عمل وکړي او همدا راز ټینګار کوي چې باید د انتخاباتو په بهیر کې د درغلیو د څېړنې او مخنیوي په ګډون د اړوندو ادارو خپلواکي، بېطرفۍ او شفافیت یقیني شي. -- د ملګروملتونو امنیت شورا همداراز د افغانستان پر سیاسي موسسو هم ږغ کړی چې د افغانستان د ملي حاکمیت، خپلواکۍ، ملي وحدت، او مځکنۍ بشپړتیا د ساتنې لپاره د هېواد له اساسي قانون سره سم ګډ کار وکړي څو د افغانانو راتلونکې ژوند سوله ییز او سوکاله شي. -- د ولسمشرۍ د انتخاباتو کاندید عبدالله عبدالله د انتخاباتو له کمیسیونونو سره همکاري درولې او ویلي یې دي چې د انتخاباتو پایلې نه مني. - تاند

The Afghan air force might be coming to Georgia --- If you’re a resident of Georgia there’s a strong chance that sometime next year an Afghan pilot trainee could be flying over your head. -- Moody Air Force Base, Ga., was selected as the most likely option for the new Afghan pilot training location, the Air Force announced in a news release. Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., are also being considered as potential sites, but Moody is preferred because its facilities are “immediately available for the new occupants to move into” and is the cheapest option for the Air Force. -- “The plan to implement this temporary stateside training option will ensure the Afghan Air Force receives the support and training necessary to safely and effectively employ a platform for conducting air interdiction and close air support operations within their country,” Air Force officials said. -- The platform is the EMB-314 Super Tucano, made by the Brazilian defense company Embraer. The Air Force calls it the A-29. It is a small twin-seat turboprop aircraft that can carry a wide array of surveillance sensors and weapons, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It is designed to be easy to fly and hold up in high temperatures and rugged terrain. The Air Force bills it is as a “multi-role, fixed wing aircraft” capable of “indigenous air interdiction, close air support…and aerial reconnaissance.” -- The aircraft will be delivered at whichever host base is chosen around September 2014, with the first Afghan trainees arriving in February 2014, officials said. The program calls for a “limited presence” at whichever host base is chosen through 2018. -- The A-29 is a byproduct of the Light Air Support program that the Air Force began in 2008 to use in conjunction with Special Operations forces. The reasoning for the program was that counter-insurgency operations like those conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan required an aircraft that could engage ground targets rapidly at low cost. The Air Force set additional parameters that it would have to be able to fly one combat hour for $1,000. In comparison, according to a report on the website, a combat-ready F-15E Strike Eagle costs around $44,000 to fly per hour. -- The A-29 was first rolled out in the 1980s by Brazil and was quickly put to work in Central and South American countries fighting vicious drug wars within their own borders. The A-29’s selection for the LAS program has been contested by Embraer’s competitor, Beechcraft, but as of March 2013 Embraer had started production of the requested A-29s. -- A contingent of 20 A-29’s will be delivered after the pilots have completed their training. - More, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Washingtonpost,

US halts work for Germany clash --- Parts of the US came to a standstill as people took time out from work to watch their team's crucial World Cup match against Germany. -- Despite losing 1-0 to one of the giants of world football, USA advanced through the so-called Group of Death to the knock-out stages. -- A record 24.7 million Americans tuned in for Sunday's 2-2 draw with Portugal, but Thursday's game was during the day. -- USA's German coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, tweeted a "get out of work letter" -- In it, he said: "I understand that this absence may reduce the productivity of your workplace but I can assure you that it's for an important cause." -- BBC,

World Cup: USA 0 Germany 1 --- Thomas Muller once again made the difference as Germany qualified as winners of Group G with victory over the United States, who also qualify for the last 16 at the World Cup. -- The Bayern Munich forward scored his ninth World Cup goal in as many games to give Germany a routine win at a rain-soaked Arena Pernambuco in Recife. -- The rate at which Muller is scoring in World Cup games is matched only by Brazil legend Pele, who also found the net nine times in his first nine matches in the tournament. -- The 24-year-old German is now just six goals behind the all-time scoring record, which is jointly held by Muller's team-mate Miroslav Klose and former Brazilian striker Ronaldo. -- This was a frustrating afternoon for the United States and their travelling army of fans. They failed to force Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to make a save of note but their qualification was assured by Portugal's 2-1 victory over Ghana in Brasilia. -- The US will now travel to Salvador to take on the much-fancied Belgians on Tuesday. Germany will play the runners up of Group H in Porto Alegre on Monday. - More,

اشرف غنی احمدزی: کسی انتخابات را به چلنج کشیده نمی‌ تواند --- اشرف غنی احمدزی یکی از دو نامزد ریاست جمهوری چهارشنبه شب در یک کنفرانس خبری گفت که سرنوشت افغانستان را انگشتانی تعیین می کنند که در روز انتخابات رای دادند. او گفت دیگر سرنوشت مردم افغانستان با ماشه تعیین نخواهد شد. به باور اشرف غنی احمدزی به اراده مردم احترام دارد و هر آنچه که کمیسیون انتخابات فیصله کند به آن احترام می گذارد. او گفت تیمی که پای خودرا از انتخابات پس می کشد «به شکست اعتراف می کند.» آقای غنی گفت نمی خواهد با رای تقلبی به قدرت برسد. -- این نامزد انتخابات ریاست جمهوری گفت به قانون و فیصله کمیسیون انتخابات احترام دارد. او از رقیب اش داکتر عبدالله خواست تا به قانون و کمیسیون های انتخاباتی احترام بگذارد. او گفت که در چند روز اخیر به فرمایش کمیسیون انتخابات سکوت کرد و از پیش داوری در مورد نتایج انتخابات خودداری نمود. اشرف غنی احمدزی گفت تیم مخالف گفته است که اشرف غنی احمدزی یک میلیون رای بیشتر دارد. او گفت این موضوع نشان می دهد که مردم افغانستان در ۳۴ ولایت به تیم تحول و تداوم رای داده اند. این در حالیست که تیم انتخاباتی داکتر عبدالله گفته است تقلب گسترده ای در ولایات خوست، پکتیا و پکتیکا به نفع یک نامزد، صورت گرفته است. اما آقای احمدزی گفت که مردم خوست مردم گذشته نیست و حالا این ولایت ۱۰ هزار محصل دارد. آقای احمدزی گفت انتخابات ۲۴ جوزا در واقع یک بسیج ملی بود: «انتخابات نبود، بسیج ملی بود. انتخابات نشان دهنده این است که مردم افغانستان می خواهند گذشته تلخ را پشت سر بگذارند و به طرف آینده روشن قدم بگذارند.» -- غنی افزود: «کسانی که به مردم سالاری شک داشتند، غلط ثابت شد. بستر تیار است مردم در گذشته هیچ وقت بحران آفرین نبوده و همیشه سیاسیون بحران خلق کرده بودند.» او گفت که تیم اش از مرگ ترس ندارد و تیم مقابل باید از زبان تهدید خودداری کند. این نامزد انتخابات ریاست جمهوری تاکید کرد که این بار مردم به سیاست مداران اجازه نمی دهند که بحران خلق کنند. او گفت که هواداران اش پیش از انتخابات خانه به خانه کمپاین کردند و به خوبی از انتخابات نظارت نمودند. آقای احمدزی گفت حالا وقت آن فرارسیده که اشتراک مردم در انتخابات جشن گرفته شود. - هشت صبح

Security Council Issues Statements Reiterating Recent Election’s Importance --- To Transition in Afghanistan, Threat Posed by Opium Cultivation -- During a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, the Security Council issued two presidential statements on recent elections, reiterating their importance to that country's transition and democratic development, and on the threat posed by rampant illicit opium cultivation. -- In a presidential statement (S/PRST/2014/11), the Council welcomed the holding of the second round of the presidential election on 14 June. The 15-member body commended the participation and courage of the Afghan people to cast their ballot despite the threat and intimidation by the Taliban and other violent extremist and terrorist groups. It also commended the participation of Afghan women in the electoral process, underlining the key role they played in Afghan-led peace, democracy and stability. -- By the presidential statement, the Council called on all stakeholders to engage with the electoral institutions and processes with patience and respect, and to refrain from any acts that incited imminent violence. It also called on all political entities to work together with the aim of strengthening Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity. The Council looked forward to the conclusion of the electoral process and welcomed the ongoing support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). -- Turning to the proliferation of illicit drugs in Afghanistan, the Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2014/12) that reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of the country and expressed concern at the increase in poppy production. -- By the presidential statement, the Council called on the United Nations to support the Government of Afghanistan's national priority programmes and called upon all States to strengthen international and regional cooperation to counter the threat to the international community posed by the production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs originating in that country. -- Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’ s Special Representative, addressing the Council via video tele-conference from Kabul, updated members on recent election-related events, echoing the body's call for calm amid hateful rhetoric stemming from voting. All necessary steps needed to be taken by the two presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, to avoid any "slippery slope" to civil disorder and instability. -- In the face of challenges following elections, he said how both candidates and the country's leadership managed those events would be vital to national unity and stability. "We can provide technical expertise to advise on possibilities and modalities of strengthened checks and balances," he said. "What we cannot do is prepare solutions and decide on behalf of Afghans — that is the exclusive responsibility of Afghans." -- Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), also addressing the Council, emphasized that Afghanistan needed continued international support. If economic development declined, reliance on the illicit market would further increase. -- " Afghanistan needs a meaningful action plan that has a long-term development, peace and security approach," he said, emphasizing three key areas: reducing the vulnerability of citizens to the illicit economy; removing opportunities for criminals by focusing on good governance; and generating the political will that could introduce long-term engagement. "Development and economic growth must go together with resolute action in addressing drug trafficking networks and transnational organized crime in Afghanistan, across the region and at the interregional level." -- More,

Gripped by electoral crisis, Afghanistan needs ‘statesmanship, not brinksmanship’ – UN envoy --- 25 June 2014 – Amidst challenges that are testing Afghanistan’s electoral, institutional and legal frameworks, together with the maturity of its political leaders, the top United Nations official in the country underscored today the vital need for the Afghan political class to act decisively to manage these events and “avoid any slippery slope to civil disorder and instability.” -- Briefing the Security Council in the wake of the fallout from Afghanistan’s 14 June run-off presidential election – meant to pave the way for the country’s first-ever democratic transfer of power but which instead has sparked charges of fraud from one candidate and the departure of a senior electoral official – Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ján Kubiš urged Afghan political leaders to step up their efforts to break the political impasse. -- “How the two presidential candidates and the country's leadership manage these events will be vital to Afghanistan's unity and stability,” he said, referring to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abduallah and events that occurred since the finalization of the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Afghanistan. -- Mr. Abdullah chose to disengage from the electoral process after the run-off poll, citing institutional bias and massive fraud, in light of high levels of voter turnout in some parts of the country. Mr. Ghani’s camp in turn attributes this to his team’s mobilization efforts. -- The run-off and subsequent electoral gridlock come during the Taliban’s “summer fighting season,” with 530 security incidents recorded on 14 June – just over 250 of those assessed as being directly election related. Mr. Kubiš noted that both candidates have been targeted with violence, including a double suicide attack on Mr. Abdullah’s campaign convoy. -- Mr. Kubiš said the recent resignation of the Independent Election Commission’s (IEC) Chief Electoral Officer would hopefully provide a point for re-entry and in particular lead to discussions between the campaign teams and institutions on strengthening technical checks and balances where voting patterns are claimed to be unusual and in increasing confidence in the credibility of the electoral process and the acceptability of its outcome. -- “The presidential candidates need to immediately engage with one another and the mandated electoral institutions in actively defining solutions to help the process move forward with improved quality and credibility,” he said, underscoring that given rising tensions, including increasing ethnic overtones, the utmost maturity is required, notably by the two presidential candidates. -- Otherwise, said Mr. Kubiš, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the risk is a confrontation of the two candidates and their supporters, where the losing side will reject the results and contest their legitimacy, possibly leading to a protracted confrontation with a danger of a slide into violence, which Afghanistan and the wider region, can ill-afford -- “As with elections anywhere in the world, there can ultimately be only one winner. The need now is for statesmanship not brinksmanship,” he declared, calling for calm amongst both candidates' supporters amidst “sharpening, hateful rhetoric of an increasingly inflammatory tone, risking ethnic division.” Most disturbingly, this includes rhetoric evoking memories of the fratricidal conflicts in the 1990s. - More,

U.S. Supreme Court's milestone ruling protects cellphone privacy --- (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that police officers usually need a warrant before they can search the cellphone of an arrested suspect, a major decision in favor of privacy rights at a time of increasing concern over government encroachment in digital communications. -- In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said there are some emergency situations in which a warrantless search would be permitted. But the unanimous 9-0 ruling goes against law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice, which wanted more latitude to search without having to obtain a warrant. -- "We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime," Roberts wrote, adding that the right to privacy "comes at a cost." -- U.S. Supreme Court's milestone ruling protects cellphone privacy. -- "The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the (country's) Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cellphone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple - get a warrant," Roberts wrote. -- The ruling could have a major impact in some jurisdictions because law enforcement agencies have increasingly made cellphones searches a top priority when a suspect is arrested, said Bronson James, a criminal defense attorney in Portland, Oregon. -- "Police wanted the data on the cellphones because it was so expansive," he said. "This stops that practice." -- The implications may be limited by the fact that police can benefit from new technology: it is now possible to obtain a warrant more quickly using mobile devices to send the request. -- The ruling could hamper law enforcement when there is a need to gather information from a cellphone immediately because of an ongoing criminal enterprise, said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor. "There could be circumstances when news of an arrest can travel quickly and time could be of the essence," he said. -- Justice Department spokeswoman Ellen Canale said the government would ensure federal law enforcement agents complied with the ruling. -- The court was considering two separate cases pitting evolving expectations of privacy against the interests of the law enforcement community as the justices for the first time weighed the ubiquitous role of cellphones in modern life. -- A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll found 60.7 percent of people surveyed said police should not be allowed to search cellphones without a warrant. -- ellphones, initially used purely to make calls, now contain a wealth of personal information about the owner including photographs, video and social media content. A 2013 Pew Research Center report said 91 percent of adult Americans have a cellphone, more than a half of them smartphones that can connect to the Internet. -- Concern about increasing government encroachment on personal privacy, especially relating to electronic communications, has surged in the past year after disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about government surveillance. -- Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation digital rights group, said the court's recognition of the impact of new technology on privacy "will have important implications for future legal challenges concerning the government’s use of technology," including NSA surveillance. -- The defendants challenging their convictions, David Riley and Brima Wurie, said evidence found on their phones should not have been used at trial because the searches were conducted without court-issued warrants. -- The circumstances in the two cases, one from Massachusetts and one from California, were different in terms of the scope of the search and the type of cellphone used. Wurie had a basic flip phone while Riley had a more sophisticated smartphone. -- The court decided the two cases together, finding that both searches were unconstitutional. -- The legal question was whether the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, barring unreasonable searches, requires police following an arrest to get court approval before a cellphone can be searched. - More,

Afghan president signs key money law needed to avoid blacklist --- (Reuters) - The Afghan president has signed a key package of legislation aimed at combating financial crime, a statement said on Wednesday, making it less likely the country will be added to an international blacklist this week. -- The laws have been rushed through both houses of parliament in a last-ditch bid to meet the deadline set by the international watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), after the draft was wrangled over by ministers for over a year. -- "I put my signature to it ... this decree is to be published in the national gazette along with the parliament drafts," the statement by President Hamid Karzai said. -- The government is hoping the eleventh-hour breakthrough will convince the FATF it has done enough to prove it is serious about cracking down on money laundering and terrorist financing. -- If not, Afghanistan would join states including Iran and Pakistan on the watchdog's blacklist. Its banks could be cut off from the global financial system, disrupting up to $10 billion worth of annual imports and putting all sectors of its aid-dependent economy under strain. -- Many banks have already stopped dealing with Afghanistan because of weak regulation and last month most Afghan banks were dealt a fresh blow when their Chinese counterparts abruptly put a halt to dollar transactions. -- FATF is midway through its June 23-27 meeting and is expected to discuss Afghanistan on the last day. - More,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Afghanistan, the next Iraq? --- (CNN) -- The current chaos in Iraq is tragic in almost every way. In retrospect, it is easy to conclude Iraq was not nearly ready enough to assume control of its own security situation when the United States made the decision to withdraw forces in December 2011. The wisdom of that decision will long be debated, but having made it, the United States is now understandably reluctant to undo it. -- Even as the Obama administration sorts through a galaxy of unattractive options, none of which is guaranteed to provide stability, it would be well-advised not to overlook one of the biggest strategic lessons of the Iraqi deterioration. That would be the warning signal it provides for another country headed down the same disturbing path: Afghanistan. -- While Iraq and Afghanistan are of course vastly different in terms of demographics, history and terrain, the parallels emerging between them in terms of security implications and political process are too important to ignore. -- An extremist militant group rising quickly and taking over large swaths of the country. A government focusing more on retribution and vengeance than reconciliation and governance. And a supposedly well-trained army essentially disintegrating in the face of real conflict. All of these characteristics describe the situation in Iraq, but all may be equally descriptive of Afghanistan in only a few short years. -- Similar to Iraq, Afghanistan has an ethnic, well-organized and well-funded insurgent group poised to retake significant amounts of territory once U.S. troops leave. -- There can be no doubt that the Taliban, having seized power once before in Kabul, is only biding its time until it can do so again. Much like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Taliban takes advantage of the limits of federal influence and governs by fear and aggression. It is only a matter of time before the Taliban, newly emboldened by the recent prisoner swap that freed five militants, takes control of southern Afghanistan and challenges Kabul's authority. -- Compounding this situation is the shaky and corrupted political process under way, which makes Iraq look like a well-functioning democracy. In a variation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's sectarian tendencies, outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has done little to unite Afghanistan's many tribal factions during his 12 years in office, instead often fomenting discontent. -- While both of the leading presidential candidates have pledged to focus on unity, there is little reason to believe that either will make it a priority. Ominously, one candidate has already boycotted the electoral process before the results of the June 14 run-off election even being announced. As a result, Afghanistan could become even more politically divided than Iraq is today. -- Perhaps the biggest wild card in Afghanistan's future is the Afghan National Army. Much like the Iraqi army, the Afghan army will be charged with maintaining the security situation once the United States departs. And much like the Iraqis, the Afghans have been trained by the United States. As we heard in Iraq, the training of the Afghans will be sufficient preparation to defend the country from any threats that may arise. -- While the Afghans may be courageous soldiers, there have been numerous reports of lackluster performances. So much so that their abilities in actual combat situations remain uncertain. In addition, Afghanistan has never had a real national fighting force, meaning there are few examples and fewer role models for current soldiers to emulate. -- As a national army, the Afghans came from a much less mature and much less professional starting point than the Iraqis. As illustrated in Iraq, without the right training and leadership, soldiers may not be willing to defend against insurgents, despite an enormous numerical advantage. -- Given all this, it is not difficult to look at the situation in Iraq and see Afghanistan's future. Indeed, with a resurgent Taliban, political instability in Kabul, an untested army and if the United States continues with its plan to drawdown forces at the end of 2014, especially without an agreement in place for the retention of American security personnel, a future similar to Iraq's may be inevitable. -- However, unlike Iraq, this bleak Afghan future need not necessarily become reality. The United States still has an opportunity to avoid making the same mistakes it made in Iraq. -- To accomplish this, the United States needs to redouble its efforts at training the Afghan army to develop it into a legitimate fighting force. It needs to put diplomatic pressure on the new president as soon as he takes office to embark on a unification and reconciliation process. And most important, it needs to plan for a withdrawal based on appropriate benchmarks and conditions, not on a political timetable. -- Such a change in strategy would undoubtedly be domestically unpopular. But sometimes, unpopularity is a necessary price for avoiding a far worse alternative in the future. - More,

Supreme Court, 9-0, Prohibits Searches Without Warrants --- Supreme Court Says Phones Can’t Be Searched Without a Warrant --- WASHINGTON — In a major statement on privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. -- Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected from routine inspection. -- The old rules, Chief Justice Roberts said, cannot be applied to “modern cellphones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” -- The courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence. --- But Chief Justice Roberts said neither justification made much sense in the context of cellphones. On the other side of the balance, he said, is the data contained on the typical cellphone. Ninety percent of Americans have them, he wrote, and they contain “a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives — from the mundane to the intimate.” -- Even the word “cellphone” is a misnomer, he said. “They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, Rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers,” he wrote. -- Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the decision would make law enforcement more difficult. -- “Cellphones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals,” he wrote. “Privacy comes at a cost.” - More, ADAM LIPTAK, NYTimes,®ion=lede-package&WT.nav=lede-package&_r=0

محور ورځپاڼه -- ډاکتر عبدالله انتخاباتي پروسه تخریبوي --- ترلاسه شوي معلومات په ډاګه کوي، چې عبدالله عبدالله د یوې منظمې ستراتيژۍ له مخې هڅه کوي، انتخاباتي بهیر پایمال شي. -- سره له دې چې استعفا ته د انتخاباتو کميسیون د دار الانشا د ريیس ضیاالحق امرخېل په اړ ایستلو کې د یونما لاس لرل نشي ردېدلای، خو دغه منځګړی لاهم ندی توانېدلی، چې عبدالله عبدالله د ټاکنو بهیر له اخرې مرحلې سره پخلا کړي. د ټاکنو کميسیون د چارواکو په خبره د عبدالله دويم شرط هم منل شوی، چې د خوست، پکتیا او پکتیکا د زیاتو رایو بیاګڼل ممکن شوي، خو عبدالله عبدالله د انتخاباتو د نتیجې له منلو د تېښتې متفاوتې او شېبه په شیبه سنجول شوې لارې لټوي. -- د یو نسبي تخمین له مخې له ژورې کتنې او تفتیش وروسته بیا به هم د عبدالله عبدالله رقیب له نوموړي څخه له اووه ان تر نهه سوه زره رایو تفاوت ولري. دغه حالت عبدالله پاروي، چې د ناکامۍ منلو پرځای پروسه د مشروعیت له ننګونو سره مخ کړي. په همدې حال کې له همپالنې ټيم څخه تازه ترلاسه شوي معلومات په ډاګه کوي، چې د شمالي ټلوالې د منځنۍ کچې ډېری قوماندانان له ضیا مسعود سره د اړیکو جوړولو په هڅو بوخت دي او دې وضعیت د عبدالله لوری له خطر سره مخامخ کړی دی. ددغو قوماندانانو له قوله خپاره شوي تازه معلومات په ډاګه کوي، چې عبدالله په هېڅ ډول د اشرف غني احمدزي بری نشي زغملای او په یوه خپل منځي غونډه کې یې ویلي، چې د غني تر بري به د اوسني حکومت دوام ته ترجیح ورکړي. دغه قوماندانان د عبدالله دا تګلاره د انتخاباتي بهیر د تخریب ستراتيژي بولي او ادعا کوي، چې د ملي امنیت پخوانی مشر امرالله صالح یې طراح دی. -- معلومات همداراز په ډاګه کوي، چې د عبدالله عبدالله له دې تګلارې سره د سولې شورا مشر او د جمیعت ګوند سرپرست صلاح الدین رباني په کلکه مخالفت ښودلی دی. صلاح الدین رباني یو له هغو کسانو دی، چې د ولسمشر کرزي د لورینې په ترڅ کې په بل حکومت کې هم خپل ځای لیدلای شي، خو له دې سره د انتخاباتو له بهیره بایکاټ له ولسمشر کرزي سره د خپلې وفادارۍ په تاوان ويني. -- ددغو قوماندانانو اکثره یې چې له ضیا مسعود سره هم ښې اړیکې لري او د عبدالله د ناکامۍ په اړه باوري شوي، اوس هڅه کوي، د ضیامسعود لوری ونیسي او په دې توګه د همپالنې تنظيمي ملاتړ کاواکه کوي. -- له بل لوري، سره له دې چې عبدالله او ځینې محدود ملګري یې د ټاکنو بهیر په اړه یو مشخص دريځ تعقیبوي، د حاجي محمد محقق، زلمي رسول او د حزب اسلامي د ځینو قوماندانانو غږ تت دی. د ولسمشر کرزي دویم مرستیال په وروستیو ورځو کې څو ځله له محمد محقق سره کتلي او په ټاکنو کې یې د هزاره حوزې د برخلیک په اړه ترمنځ بحثونه شوي دي. --- د زلمی رسول او ځینې نور پلویان یې هم د ټاکنو له بهیر سره د قانوني چلند پلویان دي او په عبدالله عبدالله فشار راوړي، چې د ولسمشر کرزي په وساطت د مشارکت لپاره له خپل انتخاباتي سیال سره جوړجاړي ته غاړه کېږدي، خو د عبدالله عبدالله له لوري د انتخاباتي پروسې د تخریب په صورت کې به زلمی رسول یو له هغو کسانو وي، چې په نړیواله کچه د همپالنې دا ډول دريځ د خپل سیاسي حیثیت په زیان ويني او له عبدالله عبدالله څخه لاره جلا کړي. -- د اصلاحاتو او همپالنې ټيم له مشرانو سره د ملګرو ملتونو د سیاسي نماینده ګۍ دوه ورځني بې نتیجې بحثونه دغه بهیر یوې نوې مرحلې ته داخلولی شي. -- داهغه وخت دې، چې د یونما مشرتابه د عبدالله عبدالله د غوښتنو په اهمیت غور وکړي او د نوموړي دخوښې وړ حل لارې د نشتوالي له کبله یاد فرمایشونه له پامه وغورځوي. -- په هرصورت ملګرو ملتونو ته د عبدالله عبدالله ترخوشالۍ د انتخاباتي پروسې نجات اهمیت لري او اړ دي، چې ددویمې چارې په ترسره کولو خپل نړیوال حیثیت خوندي کړي.

U.S. 2015 war-funding request due to go to Congress soon: official --- (Reuters) - The Pentagon's top financial officer said on Tuesday the Obama administration would "quite soon" send Congress its 2015 funding request for Afghanistan and other overseas conflicts, but he added it was unlikely to include money for operations in Iraq. -- Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale, who will step down in the coming days after more than five years in office, said until President Barack Obama decides whether to take additional steps in Iraq, it is premature to try to present Congress with a funding request. -- Obama is sending some 300 military advisers to Baghdad to assess the state of Iraqi security forces and determine how the United States can help them counter an offensive led by Islamist insurgents who have overrun the country in recent weeks. The Pentagon said the first advisers were deployed on Tuesday. -- Hale told Reuters in an interview the Pentagon would be better able to estimate the costs of any assistance to Iraq once Obama had heard back from the advisers and decided whether to pursue further action, such as air strikes. -- Hale, the longest-serving Pentagon budget chief since the 1950s, announced his intent to step down in January. The Senate recently confirmed his deputy, Michael McCord, to succeed him, and the switch is expected to take place soon. -- His time in office has been a turbulent period for Pentagon spending. -- The department's budget was about $700 billion at the start of the Obama administration as it grappled with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Congress and the White House in 2011 ordered nearly a trillion dollars in cuts to projected spending over a decade. -- Across-the-board reductions went into effect nearly halfway through the fiscal year last year, forcing the department to put civilian personnel on unpaid leave and make other spending reductions that hurt military readiness. -- The administration has asked for a base budget of $496 billion for the 2015 fiscal year beginning in October. Its request to Congress included a placeholder figure of $79 billion for the Afghanistan war, but it was expected to ask for less in the budget request that Hale said could come "quite soon." -- A compromise between Republicans and Democrats kept spending flat this year and next. But barring a new accord, the Pentagon faces a return to deep cuts in 2016, forcing it to further slash the size of the Army and Marines and retire more weapons. -- More,

Unemployment extension bill debate begins again --- It’s been a rough 18 months on Capitol Hill — budget sequestration, a debt ceiling battle, various contentious committee investigations, gridlock over bills both sides consider vital. --- Ridley-Daniels is one of the 3.1 million Americans who would have been eligible for federal long-term jobless benefits — given to those who have exhausted their state unemployment — had Congress not allowed the program to expire last December. -- Under the federal unemployment system, someone who loses a job typically receives unemployment benefits from the state for 26 weeks. But in 2008, Congress voted to provide additional aid that made checks available for as long as 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. Last year, lawmakers cut the maximum benefit to 73 weeks. Then, at the end of December, Congress let federal aid lapse altogether. -- Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who hail from the states with the highest unemployment rates in the nation, have led the push to renew the federal benefits, and on Tuesday they introduced a new bill to fund the program for five months. -- The new legislation is a significant revision to the Reed/Heller bill that passed in the Senate earlier this year but was never brought up for a vote by the House GOP leadership. -- It does not include retroactive payments for jobless Americans who stopped receiving emergency unemployment insurance when the federal program expired in December, a major component of the previous bill. -- The new legislation would allow any jobless American whose federal aid was cut off in December to receive unemployment insurance payments for as many weeks as they had remaining of eligibility when the benefits ceased. -- “This means the benefits will be available going forward for the long-term unemployed, and those that were cut off when the program expired will be able to pick up where they left off,” Reed said in a statement provided to The Washington Post on Friday. “So, for instance, if you were eligible for 6 more weeks of EUC benefits when the program was cut off on December 28, and you are still looking for a job now, you are eligible to receive federal UI help for those 6 weeks. Our goal is to try to help those out of work get the help they need.” --- Under the new legislation, the cost of the restored benefits would be paid for through offsets that include extending “pension smoothing” provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), which were set to phase out this year, and extending Customs user fees through 2024. -- Both pension smoothing and extending Customs user fees have been proposed before and have not been supported by House Republicans in the past, and several congressional aides on both sides of the aisle said they believe the current bill may face an uphill battle. - More, Washingtonpost,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Former 'GMA' Host Joan Lunden Has Breast Cancer --- Former "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden says she has breast cancer. -- She disclosed her diagnosis on Tuesday's edition of the ABC morning show, which she co-anchored from 1980 through 1997. She spoke with "GMA" host Robin Roberts, who has also been treated for breast cancer recently, as has "GMA" co-host Amy Robach. -- Lunden said her treatment will include surgery and radiation. She said she's already started chemotherapy. -- She said after the initial shock of the diagnosis, she resolved to learn everything she can about the illness and go into what she called "warrior mode." She said she expects to make a full recovery. -- The 63-year-old Lunden is now a health and wellness advocate. She has written eight books. - More,

Exercise and the ‘Good’ Bugs in Our Gut --- Being physically active may encourage beneficial germs to thrive in your gut, while inactivity could do the reverse, according to an innovative new study. The findings suggest that, in addition to its other health benefits, frequent exercise may influence our weight and overall health by altering the kinds of organisms that live inside of us. -- In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest in the role that gut microbes play in whole-body health. A multitude of studies have shown that people with large and diverse germ populations in their digestive tracts tend to be less prone to obesity, immune problems and other health disorders than people with low microbial diversity, and that certain germs, in particular, may contribute to improved metabolic and immune health. -- But little science had examined the interplay between physical activity and gut bugs in people. So, for a study published this month in Gut, researchers at University College Cork, part of the National University of Ireland, and other institutions, set out to learn more by turning to a group of people who exercise a lot: the national rugby team of Ireland. -- “We chose professional athletes as a study group, because we wanted to be sure not to miss any effect of exercise and needed a group who were safely performing at the extremes of human endeavor,” said Dr. Fergus Shanahan, an author of the study who is a professor of gastroenterology and director of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center at University College Cork. -- Forty of the players agreed to participate. At the time of the study, the men’s national team was in preseason training and the players were exercising strenuously for several hours every day. -- For the sake of comparison, the researchers also recruited two groups of healthy adult men, none of them athletes. One group consisted of men with a normal body mass index. Most of the men in this group exercised occasionally but lightly. -- The men in the final group were generally sedentary and had a body mass index that would qualify them as overweight or obese. This group was included, Dr. Shanahan said, because the rugby players, although supremely fit, were physically huge, with body masses well above normal. The researchers wanted to compare their gut microbes to those of men whose weight was similar, if not their musculature. -- The scientists drew blood and collected stool samples from all of the men, rugby players and non-athletes alike. The volunteers also completed lengthy questionnaires about their exercise routines and diet, and spoke with a nutritionist about their typical daily food intake. -- Then the scientists analyzed the men’s blood for markers of muscle damage and inflammation, which would indicate how much each volunteer had — or had not — been moving and exercising recently. The scientists also used sophisticated genetic sequencing techniques to identify and enumerate the particular microbes living in each man’s gut. - More, NYTimes,

بررسی مطبوعات / افغانستان -- سرنوشت: قربانی امرخیل باید نتیجه بدهد --- بیشتر روزنامه های چاپ امروز کابل مطالب شان را به تشنج های انتخاباتی و نشست وزرای خارجه ناتو در بروکسل اختصاص داده اند. --- روزنامه ملی باور به نقل از رئیس کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان نوشته که سه صد محل رای دهی مجدداً تفتیش و دوباره شمرده می شوند. -- روزنامه به نقل از احمد یوسف نورستانی نوشته که ده درصد آرای غور، نورستان، پکتیا، پکتیکا و خوست به هدف شفافیت بیشتر در حضور ناظرین تفتیش و شمارش دوباره می گردد. -- روزنامه در مطلبی به استعفای ضیاء الحق امرخیل رئیس پیشین دارالانشاء کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات اشاره کرده و به نقل از وی نوشته که این کار را به هدف نجات پروسهء ملی انتخابات انجام داده است. ---- روزنامهء سرنوشت در مطلبی نوشته که استعفای ضیاء الحق امرخیل برای حفظ منافع ملی و تحکیم ثبات یک قربانی بوده است. -- روزنامه در سرمقاله اش نیز در مورد همین مساله نوشته که این قربانی امرخیل باید نتیجه بدهد. -- سرنوشت در یک مطلب دیگر به نقل از دگلاس لوت نماینده دایمی امریکا در ناتو نوشته که گفته امریکا از نامزد مشخصی در افغانستان حمایت نمی کند. -- در ادامه به نقل از آقای لوت آمده که مسوولیت حل بن بست های انتخاباتی در افغانستان را اول کمیسیون های انتخاباتی به عهده دارند و پس از آن سازمان ملل متحد می تواند در این بخش همکاری کند. - More, رادیو آزادی

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Desperate Pakistanis Flee Tribal Region (PHOTOS) --- Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis fled the tribal region of North Waziristan last week after the army launched airstrikes against militants in the remote corner of the country. -- Reuters reports that about 50,000 refugees have crossed into Afghanistan to escape government airstrikes in the past ten days, while more than 400,000 are displaced within the country. The Pakistani government had urged residents to leave the tribal area by Monday before the start of a ground offensive that is expected to launch later this week. -- United Nations agencies warned on Tuesday that the massive displacement of North Waziristan residents heightened the risk of the spread of polio in Pakistan. Militants in the tribal region have long obstructed the distribution of vaccines. "There is a risk that now with the population moving out (of North Waziristan) that the virus will move out," Sona Bari, spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, told Reuters on Tuesday. - More, Huffington Post,

Is Afghanistan the Next to Crumble? --- The U.S. needs to shift its approach to avoid an Iraq-like disaster. -- Amid the stunning rout of Iraqi forces in northern Iraq, many have asked whether a similar reversal of American foreign policy goals is possible in Afghanistan. The answer is a qualified yes. -- Of course, Iraq and Afghanistan have a number of differences, urbanization, wealth, history, and geography among them. They have in common a lengthy U.S.-led intervention combining efforts to build a military force with the creation of a government. Iraq, like Afghanistan, held elections in the waning days of American involvement, to form a multi-ethnic government. As with Iraq, the U.S. military is announcing plans to leave Afghanistan on a note of cautious optimism. -- In Afghanistan, as in Iraq, there is widespread disaffection with the government. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear Afghans refer to their government as a mafia. Corruption and patronage dominate both governments, ranking among the world’s worst according to Transparency International. The defense and security sectors of both countries are assessed at a high risk of corruption, ranking in the bottom third worldwide. Moreover, the absence of a coherent political strategy in Afghanistan to address issues of factionalism, patronage and corruption has contributed to the development of a government that few seem willing to fight for. - More,

Former UK ambassador to Afghanistan calls for legalisation of drugs --- The former UK ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir William Patey, has come out in favour of legalising drugs after acknowledging the failure of British-led efforts over the last 10 years to eradicate poppy crops in the country -- Patey, one of the most experienced diplomats of his generation, with a string of postings that include Iraq, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, becomes one of the highest-profile figures in Britain to back legalising and regulating drugs. -- His comments run counter to Home Office policy and will be rejected outright by many drug policy groups. -- In an article in the Guardian, Patey, who has a reputation inside the Foreign Office for being outspoken and independent-minded, writes: "If we cannot deal effectively with supply, then the only alternative would seem to me to try to limit the demand for illicit drugs by making a licit supply of them available from a legally regulated market." -- He adds: "Putting governments in control of the global drug trade through legal regulation will remove the incentive for those in fragile, insecure regions to produce and traffic drugs. Putting doctors and pharmacists in control of supply in the UK will save lives, improve health and reduce crime." -- While the legalisation of cannabis is growing fast in the US and elsewhere, there is little support worldwide for similar action on opium. -- Patey's call for legalising production and supply is backed by one of the leading groups calling for reform, Transform Drug Policy Foundation. - More, Guardian,

Federal judge rules U.S. no-fly list violates Constitution --- (Reuters) - The U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. -- U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, ruling on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who were branded with the no-fly status, ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation. -- "The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," Brown wrote in her 65-page ruling. -- "Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel," Brown said. -- The decision hands a major victory to the 13 plaintiffs - four of them veterans of the U.S. military - who deny they have links to terrorism and say they only learned of their no-fly status when they arrived at an airport and were blocked from boarding a flight. -- The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought suit against the policy in 2010, argues that secrecy surrounding the list and lack of any reasonable opportunity for plaintiffs to fight their placement on it violates their clients' constitutional rights to due process. -- “For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair no-fly list procedures and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court," Hina Shamsi, the ACLU's national security project director, said in a written statement. -- "This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the no-fly list with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardships," Shamsi said. -- The government contends there is an adequate means of contesting the flight ban and that individuals listed under the policy may ultimately petition a U.S. appeals court directly for relief. -- Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice, which defended the lawsuit, declined to comment, other than to say they needed more time to read the ruling. --- The no-fly list, established in 2003 in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, bars those on it from flying within the United States or to and from the country. As of last year, it included some 20,000 people deemed by the FBI as having, or reasonably suspected of having, ties to terrorism, an agency spokesman said at the time. About 500 of them were U.S. citizens. - More,

NATO Foreign Ministerial to focus on Ukraine, Afghanistan, Wales Summit --- NATO’s support to Ukraine and the implications of Russia’s actions, the future of Afghanistan and preparations for the NATO Summit in Wales top the agenda of a two-day meeting of the Alliance’s 28 foreign ministers which starts on Tuesday (24 June 2014). -- The ministers will conclude their talks with a meeting on Afghanistan with ISAF partners and the Deputy Afghan Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi. The United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton have also been invited. The foreign ministers are expected to endorse the operations plan for the NATO-led post-2014 mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces during the meeting. That mission will only be launched if the appropriate legal arrangements are signed in due course. - More,

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meets British Prime Minister David Cameron to prepare Wales Summit --- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Wales Summit in September “will be one of the most important in NATO’s history." Visiting London on Thursday (19 June) for meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, he said it was "fitting that the Summit should take place in the United Kingdom, which plays such a leading role in NATO.” -- Setting out the priorities of the Summit, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said that a time when peace and stability are put to the test from Eastern Europe to North Africa and the Middle East, NATO must remain ready to deal with any threats to keep Allies nations safe, reinforce its network of partners and bolster local security forces to help keep the world stable, and reinvest in the vital link between Europe and America. Because, he said, "in a dangerous world, our Atlantic Alliance of free democracies is indispensable." -- The NATO Secretary General said the United Kingdom was leading by example, by playing a major role in strengthened collective defence measures as a result of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. He also stressed Britain's continued investment of 2 percent of GDP in defence and in deployable forces. "Across Europe", he said, "Allies need to look at what they spend on defence and how they spend it." -- Mr Fogh Rasmussen paid tribute to British forces for their courage and sacrifice in Afghanistan, highlighting the achievements made over the past decade. “In Wales we will make sure that the gains we have made are preserved,” he said. -- The Secretary General also delivered a speech at Chatham House outlining the way ahead for NATO’s future. Asked by media on reports of a renewed Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border, the Secretary General said, “I can confirm that we now see a new Russian military build-up - at least a few thousand more Russian troops deployed to the Ukrainian border and we see troop manoeuvres in the neighbourhood of Ukraine. I consider this a very regrettable step backwards." He called on Russia to stop the flow of weapons and arms across the border, stop supporting pro-Russian armed gangs, and stop destabilising Ukraine. - More,

ستاد اشرف غنی خواستار معرفی منبع شنود تلفنی امرخیل شد --- ستاد اشرف غنی احمدزی در مورد فایل صوتی ضیاالحق امرخیل که منجر به برکناری او شد، از تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی توضیح خواسته است. --- حمیدالله فاروقی از اعضای ستاد انتخاباتی اشرف غنی احمدزی در نشست خبری در کابل گفت: " تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی باید در این مورد وضاحت دهد تا این مدارک (فایل صوتی) را از کدام مرجع دولت افغانستان و یا شبکه استخبارات خارجی بدست آورده است." آقای فاروقی می گوید که جمع آوری این گونه اطلاعات غیرقانونی است و هویت مرجع که این اطلاعات را در اختیار ستاد انتخاباتی اصلاحات و همگرایی قرار داده باید افشا شود. --- ضیاالحق امرخیل یک روز پس از آن که تیم انتخاباتی عبدالله عبدالله فایل صوتی او را در رابطه با تقلب در اختیار رسانه ها قرار داد، از وظیفه اش استعفا داد. در این نوار صوتی که ادعا می شود صدای آقای امرخیل است، در مورد تقلب های گسترده و سازماندهی شده به نفع اشرف غنی احمدزی صحبت می شود. امرخیل با شماری از مسوولان کمیسیون های انتخاباتی در چندین ولایت تماس می گیرد و به آنها می گوید که وارد عمل شوند و کاری انجام دهند. ضیاالحق امرخیل اما دیروز گفت، صدایی که در این فایل استفاده شده مربوط او نیست اما او اعلام کرد که برای بیرون رفت کشور از بحران کنونی استعفا می دهد. ستاد اشرف غنی احمدزی نیز اعلام کرده که هیچ رابطه یی جز ارتباط کاری و قانونی با ضیاالحق امرخیل نداشته و آقای امرخیل به خاطر منافع ملی افغانستان استعفا داده است. حمیدالله فاروقی می گوید که ستاد عبدالله عبدالله تلاش داشت تا با نشر فایل صوتی افکار و اذهان عامه را مغشوش کند که با اقدام شجاعانه امرخیل این حرکت خنثی شد. آقای فاروقی گفت: "صدای نشر شده مشکوک است، معلوم نیست از کی است و ما در این مورد شکایت نامه خود را به کمیسیون شکایات انتخاباتی ارسال کردیم." او ادعاهای تقلب به ستاد انتخاباتی اشرف غنی احمدزی را رد کرد و گفت که این اتهامات واهی است و برای تشویش اذهان عامه صورت گرفته است. --- عبدالله عبدالله پس از آنکه حرف از تقلب های گسترده به میان آورد، ارتباط خود را با کمیسیون های انتخاباتی قطع کرد و ناظران انتخاباتی خود را از دفاتر این کمیسیون ها فراخواند. این نامزد معترض گفته بود تا زمانیکه ضیاالحق امرخیل از وظیفه برکنار و روند شمارش آرا متوقف نشود ارتباط خود را با کمیسیون های انتخاباتی به حال تعلیق می اورد. حال، ستاد اشرف غنی احمدزی تنها رقیب عدبدالله در مرحله دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری می گوید که پس از استعفای ضیاالحق امرخیل بهانه ای برای قطع این ارتباط باقی نمانده است. -- حمیدالله فاروقی گفت: "از تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی می خواهیم که دیگر آنچه به اصطلاح مانع مشارکت شما در پروسه ملی و سیاسی انتخابات بود منتفی گردیده و مصرانه می خواهیم تا به پیروی از قوانین کشور به پروسه احترام گذاشته و مجدداً وارد پروسه شوید." در عین حال، این عضو ستاد اشرف غنی احمدزی هشدار داده است که پیش شرط ها و اعتراض های دیگر عبدالله عبدالله به هیچ وجه طرف قبول و تایید تیم تحول و تداوم نخواهد بود. هم زمان حمیدالله فاروقی از کمیسیون انتخابات خواسته است که نتایج قسمی را اعلام کند و مردم را بیشتر در انتظار نگه ندارد. -- خبرگزاری بخدی

Monday, June 23, 2014

Opinions - Will Obama repeat his Iraq mistakes in Afghanistan? --- If you like the unfolding disaster in Obama-abandoned Iraq, you are going to love Obama-abandoned Afghanistan. --- Just two weeks before Iraq descended into chaos, President Obama stepped into the Rose Garden to announce his plan to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016. “It’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama declared. “Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than begin them — but this is how wars end in the 21st century.” -- If Iraq is how wars end in the 21st century, we’re in big trouble. -- In Iraq, we are seeing what happens when the United States withdraws and leaves a security vacuum in its wake. When Obama took office, al-Qaeda in Iraq (now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) was defeated militarily and ideologically. The terrorists had been driven from their safe havens, and the Sunni masses had risen up to join the United States in driving them out. Then Obama’s complete withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011 took the boot off of the terrorists’ necks — giving them space to regroup, reconstitute, retake cities and now threaten the Iraqi capital. --- Afghanistan will be no different if Obama goes through with his withdrawal plans. The Taliban is nowhere near as defeated today as ISIS was when Obama withdrew U.S. forces from Iraq. Just last week, the Taliban launched a major attack on NATO in eastern Afghanistan. Not only is the Taliban not militarily defeated, but it is winning the ideological struggle as well. Obama’s release of five senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was a shot in the arm for the Taliban — celebrated as a “great victory” by their leader, Mullah Omar. The eventual return of the Taliban Five to Afghanistan will energize and embolden Taliban forces. -- If Obama withdraws, the Taliban will retake cities and territory it lost during Obama’s 2009 surge. At a bare minimum, it will restore control over large swaths of the country, and in a worst-case scenario it could take back Kabul and control the entire country. In either case, al-Qaeda will return to Afghanistan, reclaiming the safe haven it lost after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Moreover, with U.S. forces completely withdrawn, al-Qaeda will have greater freedom of movement across the border in Pakistan, because the United States cannot carry out drone strikes in Pakistan without bases in Afghanistan. --- Meanwhile, unless Obama acts, ISIS will consolidate its control over large swaths of Iraq and Syria — and could even take control of Baghdad. This will leave us with a situation far worse than the status quo before Sept. 11. Before Sept. 11, our enemies controlled one nation. Now they will control two — one Islamic caliphate in Iraq controlled by ISIS, and another in Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban and core al-Qaeda. --- Speaking in the Rose Garden last month, Obama declared: “We have to recognize that Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not America’s responsibility to make it one.” But our goal has never been to make Afghanistan a “perfect place.” It is to ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a terrorist safe haven from which our enemies can plan another attack like the one we suffered on Sept. 11, 2001. That is the United States’ responsibility. -- If Obama stays on his current track, Afghanistan will soon join Iraq in the descent into chaos and terrorist control. Then, instead of going down in history not as the president who ended wars, Obama will go down in history as the president who lost them — and created the conditions that led to the next attack. -- More, Marc A. Thiessen, Washingtonpost,

Afghanistan Chief Electoral Officer Resigns Amid Vote Fraud Allegations --- Amarkhil Denies Fraud Accusations by Presidential Candidate Abdullah Abdullah -- KABUL—Afghanistan's chief electoral officer resigned Monday amid fraud allegations, prompting presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah to say he was ready to resume cooperation with election authorities. -- "The door is now open for us to get to talk to the [election] commission and talk about the conditions and circumstances which will help the process," said Mr. Abdullah, who had accused the official, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, of perpetrating massive vote fraud. "We do believe in the transparency of the process, and we want the credibility of the process." --- Mr. Amarkhil's resignation came a day after Mr. Abdullah's campaign released recordings of what it alleges are phone conversations in which the electoral officer discussed ways of rigging the June 14 vote in favor of former finance minister Ashraf Ghani. Mr. Amarkhil said Monday that the recordings were fabricated and denied any involvement in fraud. --- "This was a conspiracy against me. It was plotted by those people who want to damage the national process," Mr. Amarkhil said. He added that he resigned "for the sake of the trust in the process." Mr. Ghani's presidential campaign, in a statement, also rejected the allegations that Mr. Amarkhil had committed fraud to help Mr. Ghani. --- Shortly after the runoff, Mr. Abdullah pulled his observers from the vote count and said he would not recognize the election's results because he doesn't trust the election authorities. The removal of Mr. Amarkhil was one of his demands. -- "It seems that the deadlock is broken and the process should go ahead," said Idrees Zaman, an analyst at Cooperation for Peace and Unity, a think tank in Kabul. "Mr. Amarkhil's resignation has been a face-saving way for him to rejoin this process." -- The move doesn't mean an end to the crisis, though. On Monday, Mr. Abdullah demanded that another round of the election be carried out in the parts of the country with the most suspicious results, especially in eastern and southern Afghanistan. -- Mr. Amarkhil had resisted such proposals, saying that a third round isn't something permissible under Afghan law. - More, WSJ,

سوالات ژرونالیست تلویزیون ۱ از داکترعبدالله در مورد پخش تماس تیلفونی ضیاالحق امرخیل --- ژورنالیست شما این مکالمه را از کحا بدست اوردید؟ عبدالله عبدالله از یک از ارگان دولتی. --- ژورنالیست ایا مشخص ساخته میتوانید کدام ارگان؟ عبدالله عبدالله حالا نی وقتش که رسید باز مشخص میکنم. --- ژورنالیست شما دولت را متهم کردید که به نفع اشرف غنی کار میکند ولی حالا مشخص شد که به نفع شما کار میکند چون صدای امرخیل را ثبت و به دسترس شما قرار داد؟ عبدالله عبدالله ما وطن پرستان واقعی و قانونی پاین رتبه داریم که با احساس وطنپرستی اقدام به این کار کرده اند. --- ژورنالیست طبق قانون این وظیفۀ امنیت ملی و وزارت داخله است و باید هم امر محاکمه را داشته باشند قبل از اقدام اینکار آیا امر محاکمه موجود است؟ عبدالله عبدالله نی --- ژونالیست شما گفتید اشخاص وطن پرست و قانونی، آیا این خود یک قانون شکنی نیست که بدون امر محاکمه اینکار را کردند؟ عبدالله عبدالله بخاطر نجات وطن باید قانون را میده کرد. --- ژونالیست اگر این صدا شناسایی شود که از امرخیل نیست در آن صورت این خیانت ملی نیست؟ عبدالله عبدالله نی با تقلب کار باید چنین عمل کرد. --- ژورنالیست آیا این خود تقلب نیست صدای شخص قبل از شناسی رسانه یی شود؟ عبدالله عبدالله ضرورت به شناسایی نیست این صدا از خود امر خیل است. --- ژونالیست چند فیصد مطمین استید که این از امر خیل است؟ عبدالله عبدالله من مطمئن نیستم ولی شخصی که برایم داد او صد فیصد مطمئن است. --- ژورنالیست شخص کیست میتوانید شخصی که این صدا را ثبت کرده به رسانه ها نشان بدهید؟ عبدالله عبدالله هنوز وقتش نرسیده وقتش که رسید باز او شخص خودش می آید اول باید وظیفه امرخیل به تعلیق افتد. --- ژونالیست ولی تا هنوز اسناد و مدارک وجود ندارد پس چگونه وظیفۀ امر خیل به تعلیق افتد؟ عبدالله عبدالله وقت وظیفۀ امرخیل به تعلیق افتید باز اسناد و مدارک مؤثق را ارایه میکنیم. --- در آخر ژورنالیست مصاحبه را با خنده پایان داد. - از صفحۀ فیسبوک ولید تمیم

Claim of Fraud In Afghan Vote Leads Official To Step Down --- The official, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, said in an emotional news conference here that he was stepping down “for the sake of the country and for national unity.” But he maintained that he was innocent. And he criticized Mr. Abdullah’s release of audio recordings that the candidate has offered as evidence that Mr. Amarkhil was directing widespread ballot-box stuffing, saying the tapes had been faked. --- The tapes, whose authenticity could not be verified, are a compendium of conversations between a man said to be Mr. Amarkhil and an array of subordinates, as well as people said to be campaign staff members for the other presidential candidate, Ashraf Ghani. The recordings, which the Abdullah campaign made available to reporters, include the voices of men chuckling about “stuffing the sheep,” which the Abdullah campaign says is code for stuffing ballot boxes. -- Mr. Abdullah, who essentially walked away from the entire electoral process last week in protest, applauded the move. He said it offered an opportunity to re-engage with the Independent Election Commission. -- “The door is now open to talk to the commission,” Mr. Abdullah said at a news conference. “Our attitude will be responsible in the coming days and weeks. But it will be in support of the people’s rights.” --- Mr. Ghani’s campaign said it would accept Mr. Amarkhil’s resignation, though the candidate’s aides had aired concerns that such a move would be bad for Afghan democracy. -- “We respect the decision of Mr. Amarkhil to resign for the sake of the election and for the sake of the unity of the Afghan people,” said Abbas Noyan, a spokesman for Mr. Ghani. --- Mr. Amarkhil’s resignation was but one of Mr. Abdullah’s demands after the runoff, and the candidate said he would probably outline his other requirements for the election commission soon. But it was still unclear what could break the current deadlock. - More, NYTimes,

Top Afghan election official resigns --- KABUL — A top Afghan election official resigned Monday, heeding the demands of a presidential candidate and offering hope that the fragile electoral process that is underway will not devolve into violence. -- Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, the country’s chief election officer, agreed to step down after Abdullah Abdullah — one of two presidential candidates who took part in a runoff vote June 14 — accused him of facilitating electoral fraud on behalf of Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah’s opponent. --- Amarkhil denied wrongdoing but said his resignation was “for the good of the country.” -- Abdullah responded promptly to the resignation, calling it a step in the right direction but saying that he is still not ready to trust the election commission to produce legitimate results. -- “The door is now opened for us to talk to the commission and talk about the conditions and circumstances which will help the process,” he said. -- Abdullah has suggested that the United Nations could provide additional oversight as the commission counts valid votes and weeds out fraudulent ones. The commission has already received millions of dollars in funding and training from the United Nations and the United States. -- Abdullah raised questions about Amarkhil’s impartiality Sunday by playing recorded telephone conversations allegedly of Amarkhil encouraging election officials to support Ghani and possibly encouraging ballot stuffing. The authenticity of the recordings could not be verified. -- Last week, Abdullah said he would not recognize results due to be issued next month by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, arguing that fraud had rendered them illegitimate. Within days, his supporters took to the streets in small demonstrations that they said would get larger and more disruptive. -- More, Kevin Sieff, Washingtonpost

رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون انتخابات استعفا داد --- ضیا الحق امرخیل، رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون انتخابات افغانستان، از سمت خود در این کمیسیون استعفا کرد. -- آقای امرخیل در یک کنفرانس خبری گفت، او برای استعفا تحت فشار نبوده بلکه بخاطر اعتمادسازی و بیرون کشیدن روند انتخابات از بن بست، استعفا کرده است. -- آقای امر خیل از سوی عبدالله عبدالله، یکی از دونامزد در دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان، به "دست داشتن در تقلب" متهم شده است. -- اما آقای امرخیل گفت او همه اتهامات وارده علیه خود را رد می‌کند ولی بخاطر "اعتماد سازی و نجات انتخابات به عنوان یک روند ملی،" از سمت خود استعفا می‌دهد. -- او همچنان افزود به خاطر این که آقای عبدالله به تحریم انتخابات پایان دهد و تصامیم کمیسیون انتخابات را بپذیرد، از سمت خود استعفا می دهد. -- رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون انتخابات از مشارکت مردم در دور اول و دوم انتخابات تشکر کرد و گفت مردم در هردو مرحله، ترس، سردی هوا و دیگر مشکلات را نا دیده گرفتند و در انتخابات شرکت کردند. -- استعفای آقای امرخیل درست یک روز پس از نشر فایل صوتی منسوب به او صورت می گیرد.--- دیروز ستاد عبدالله عبدالله، نامزد ریاست جمهوری افغانستان یک فایل صوتی را در اختیار رسانه‌ها قرار داد و ادعا کرد در این فایل صوتی، فردی که ستاد آقای عبدالله مدعی شده که ضیاالحق امرخیل است به فردی که ادعا شده عضو ستاد انتخاباتی آقای احمدزی است، به زبان پشتو دستور می‌دهد که "دست روی دست ننشیند و کاری کند." -- در قسمت دیگری از این فایل صوتی، به یکی از کارمندان ارشد محلی کمیسیون انتخابات دستور داده می شود که "گوسفندها" را به کوه‌ها ببرد و "چاق" برگرداند. ستاد آقای عبدالله ادعا می‌کند که منظور او بردن صندوق‌های خالی و پر کردن آن به نفع آقای احمدزی است. -- اما آقای امرخیل گفت که این فایل صوتی جعلی و تقلبی است. -- او گفت که از کمیسیون رسیدگی به شکایت های انتخاباتی می خواهد که به دسیسه ها علیه او رسیدگی کند. --- احمد یوسف نورستانی رئیس کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات نیز گفت که استعفای آقای امرخیل هیچ ربطی به این فایل صوتی ندارد. -- آقای نورستانی، از امرخیل بعنوان یک فرد وطن دوست باتجربه و متخصص نام برد و افزود که آقای امرخیل برای استفعا زیر هیچ فشاری نبود. -- نورستانی از استعفای امرخیل اظهار تاسف کرد و گفت او به خاطر این که کسی ضرر مالی و جانی نبیند استعفا کرده است. --- اتهامات جدید از سوی ضیاالحق امرخیل -- آقای امرخیل می گوید که او در جریان کارش به خواسته های نامشروع شماری از نامزدان پاسخ رد داده بود. -- او گفت که در دور اول انتخابات به او پیشنهاد پست دولتی و پول داده شده بود تا او پنجاه جمع یک را به نفع یک نامزد تکمیل کند اما او این کار را نکرده است. -- و همچنان اتفاقی را که در روز انتخابات افتاد یک دسیسه از پیش طرح شده علیه خودش خواند. -- ژنرال ظاهر ظاهر، فرمانده پلیس کابل در روز برگزاری دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری، ضیاءالحق امرخیل، رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون انتخابات را متهم به انتقال غیر قانونی مواد انتخاباتی کرد. -- آقای امرخیل تاکید کرد که او در تمام دوره کارش، بی طرف بوده و به اساس قانون عمل کرده است. - BBC,

Sunday, June 22, 2014

US Senate panel approves $960 million for Pakistan --- WASHINGTON: A powerful congressional panel has approved nearly $960 million in US aid for Pakistan in the 2015 fiscal year that will target unemployment, illiteracy, and disenfranchisement among the most impoverished individuals and communities. -- The Senate Committee on Appropriations did so while clearing the State Department’s 2015 budget of $48.285 billion in which it approved a total of $959.7 million for Pakistan, $65.8 million less than President Barack Obama’s request of $1.03 billion for the South Asian country. -- At the same time, the committee acknowledged improved relations between the two countries since last year’s elections and urged sustained commitment to common goals. -- “The committee recognizes an improvement in bilateral relations following elections in Pakistan, and encourages continued commitment to shared security and development goals,” the panel said in the fiscal year 2015 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programmes Bill. -- The committee recommends up to $ 816 million for assistance programmes in Pakistan and directs that assistance in Pakistan target unemployment, illiteracy, and disenfranchisement among the most impoverished communities. --- The US financial year starts on October 1 each year. Of the $ 1.9 billion appropriated amount for Afghanistan – $700 million below the US president’s request of $2.6 billion – the measure provides up to $961.4 million for assistance programmes in that war-torn country amid transition and reduction in American footprint. -- While approving allocation for Pakistan, the committee recognizes Malala Yousafzai’s courageous advocacy for girls’ education. The Appropriation Act provides $3,000,000, in addition to funds otherwise available for such purposes, to increase the number of scholarships under the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Programme. “Not less than 50 percent of the scholarships should be awarded to Pakistani women,” it says. -- The bill increases funding for polio prevention programmes to USD 59 million, including USD 7.5 million in Afghanistan and Pakistan to support a multilateral campaign to eliminate the disease, which is USD 9 million above the President’s request, it said. -- The committee has also requested the Secretary of State to consult with the committee on plans for winding down the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). It supported the reincorporation of SRAP within the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. -- The committee asked the State Department to ensure that the US aid money is not used in the Iran-Pak gas pipeline, and urged the Secretary of State to make the release of Warren Weinstein, an aid worker who was kidnapped by extremists in Lahore in 2011, a priority in the bilateral relationship with Pakistan. - More, The News Tribe,

Afghanistan will not go the way of Iraq when West leaves, says top British army chief --- Lt Gen John Lorimer, deputy commander of the Nato coalition, tells Telegraph "I do not see Afghanistan going that way" amid Isis offensive in Iraq -- Afghanistan will not collapse into chaos like Iraq when international troops depart, the most senior British officer in the country has predicted -- Lt Gen John Lorimer, deputy commander of the Nato coalition, said although there was no direct comparison with the recent crisis in Iraq and the future of Afghanistan, it did emphasise the value of continued international support to the beleaguered country. -- His comments in an interview with the Telegraph came as America continues to debate military action in Iraq, two-and-a-half years after US troops left, to try to repel sweeping Isis advances north of Baghdad. -- Lt Gen Lorimer said the departure of international combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year and then the departure of all troops by the end of 2016 was “not a withdrawal, this is a transition”. -- A direct comparison with Iraq “is probably not valid here”, he said. -- “I don’t see it going that way. I do not see Afghanistan going that way.” -- “The mission we are planning and that Nato is planning I think will help continue the development of the Afghan national security forces, which has been so key and which has been pretty successful so far, but we are not finished yet. They want the support.” -- Nato’s combat mission in Afghanistan ends at the end of 2014 and a new mission training and advising forces is being drawn up for the next two years. America has said it wants to keep just under 10,000 troops in Afghanistan next year and Britain is currently planning to keep around 200. -- Lt Gen Lorimer said the situation in Iraq showed the importance of staying to help Afghan forces. - More, Telegraph

په واک کې د عبدالله عبدالله د شراکت برنامه --- تر شپږو زیات کورني او بهرني چینلونه هڅې کوي، چې اشرف غني‌ احمدزی د ایتلافي حکومت جوړولو ته غاړه کېږدي. د ۲۰۰۹ کال د ټاکنو تجربه په ډاګه کوي، چې د ملګرو ملتونو دفتر د جوړجاړي تر ټولو ځواکمنه مرجع ده، چې د کاندیدانو تر شا د ولاړو ملکونو خبره ځای ته رسوي او هم بایللي ‌کاندید ته با ارزښته لابي‌ کوي. -- د ټاکنو د دویم دور احتمالي ‌بریالي کاندید اشرف غني‌احمدزي پلویان وايي، ملي حکومت به جوړوي، خو په واک کې د عبدالله عبدالله شریکول د حکومت د ملي‌ کولو مانا نلري. -- د ټاکنو کمېسیون سرچينې وايي، د دواړو کاندیدانو ترمنځ د یو نیم میلیون رایو تفاوت دی، که په هره ډېره بې انصافۍ د درغلیو په پلمه رایې باطلې شي، بیا به هم د اشرف غني‌احمدزي‌ رایې له عبدالله سره د اته سوه زره په شاوخوا تفاوت ولري. -- مخکې تردې چې د شنبې په سهار د اصلاحاتو او همپالنې پلویان د اعتراض په دود د کابل سړکونو ته راووځي، په ماښام یې ملګرو ملتونو دفتر له انتخاباتو کمېسیون وغوښتل، چې د ټاکنو د قسمي پایلو اعلان وځنډوي. -- دغه ځنډ په ټول افغانستان کې د ملګرو ملتونو او انتخاباتي کميسیونونو پرضد خلک راپارولي‌ دي. دوی وايي، د خلکو رایو ته درناوی نه کېږي او هر څوک چې د زور مانور کولای شي، خلک ویرولی شي، سیاسي پریکړې یې د رضایت لپاره انتظار وي. -- خو د شنبې په سهار هغه خیمې له خلکو تشې وې، چې د اعتراضونو په دود د کابل په واټونو کې لګول شوې وې. تر ټولو لویه مظاهره د دهمزنګ په سړک وه، چې د اویا په شمېر ځوانانو په لاس کې د روند سبز شنې جنډې لېږدولې او د کمېسیونونو پر ضد یې شعارونه ورکول. په دغو لاریونونو کې د کابل هغه کارګر ځواک هم برخه لرله، چې د کابل د کوټه سنګي او خیرخانې په چوک د روزمزدورۍ لپاره ټوله ورځ ګرمۍ ته تېروي، کارګرانو د شنبې په ورځ ۵۰۰ افغانۍ اجوره ترلاسه کړه. -- د کابل باغ وحش مخې ته راټولو لاریون کوونکو کې هغه معتادین هم ترسترګو کېدل، چې د کابل په لویدیځ کې یې تر پله لاندې خپل سری کمپ جوړ کړی دی. -- لاریون کوونکو د مشهورو قوماندانانو په نامه د زنده باد شعارونه ورکول، په دوی کې تر ټولو نوموتی یې امان الله ګذر و، چې د عبدالله په پلويتوب یې تر ټاکنو دوه ورځې مخکې خلک ګواښلي‌ و، چې که عبدالله عبدالله ته رایه ورنکړي، نو له شمالي ډنډ څخه دې کډې بار کړي. ویل کیږي، دغه قوماندان په کابل کې د یو خصوصي تلویزیون مالک هم دی. -- تر لاریونونو مخکې په ټول کابل د وېرې خپسه خپره وه، مارکېټونه تړلي وو او ډېر لږ شمېر خلک د کار او دندې په نیت له کورونو بهر وتلي وو. -- ډېری ښاریانو د عبدالله عبدالله د پلویانو له مانور څخه شکایت کاوه. په کوټه سنګي کې د مرمر ډبرو یو دکاندار چې خپله رایه یې عبدالله ته ورکړې وايي:‌ ((موږ هېر کړي، چې د کابل جنګونه چا، څنګه شروع کړل.)) -- رپوټونه وايي، ملګري ملتونه او ارګ د عبدالله عبدالله په پلوۍ د هغو تبليغاتو تر شدید ډار لاندې مشروع پروسې ته زیان رسوي، چې باید پکې د خلکو اصلي رایه ټاکونکې واوسي. -- ګڼ تلویزيوني چینلونه د بحران په پلمه د اصلاحاتو او همپالنې شعارونو ته یو اړخیز انعکاس ورکوي. دوی د بیان له ازادۍ او ډیموکراسۍ په پلمه پارونکې خپرونې کوي، خو بل خواته د اصلاحاتو او همپالنې له پلویانو تر سلو کم کسان د دغه ډلې په ملاتړ سړکونو ته راووتل، دوی حتی د پولاوونو هغه دیګونه تش نکړای شول، چې د څلورو خیمو څنګونو ته همپالنې کمپ پاخه کړي‌ وو. -- شنونکي‌ وايي، د ټاکنو د قسمي پایلو ځنډ ښايي، د پردې ترشا نوې معاملې ته لاره هواره کړي، چې د اشرف غني ‌پلویان یې له خپل کاندید څخه انتظار نلري. هغه رایه چې د غني په ګټه کارېدلې له جنګسالارانو او له حکومتي مافیا څخه د خلاصون په موخه وه، خو د سیاسي څېړونکو په باور که غني‌ له دوی سره ایتلاف ته غاړه ماته کړي، دا به په ټاکنو کې د خلکو د طبیعي ګډون کلتور په اینده ناوړه اغېز ولري. -- د لومړي دور ټاکنو په پایله کې د بریتانیا په شمول ځینو هېوادونو هڅه کوله، چې د ټولو نوماندانو یو مشارکتي حکومت جوړ شي، دغه کاندیدان ټول یې په دوه انتخاباتي کمپونو کې ځای پر ځای شوي دي، خو اوس رپوټونه په ډاګه کوي، چې روسیه، ایران، چین او هندوستان هڅه کوي، په واک کې د عبدالله عبدالله شراکت تر ۴۰ سلنې وي. -- له بل لوري ډېری شنونکي ولسمشر کرزی ملامتوي، چې د شکایتونو کمېسیون حقوقي حیثیت یې د تېر په څېر پایمال کړ او په ناقانونه ډول د ملګرو ملتونو یا خپلو معاونینو د وساطت فرمایش یې رامخ ته کړی دی. دوی شک لري، چې د پردې ترشاه د ایتلافي حکومت طرحه له وړاندې جوړه شوې وه او د ملي مصلحت په نامه غني د ځان په څير د جنګسالارانو په حلقه کې را اېسارول غواړي. - روهی ویب

As America Leaves Afghanistan, Special Ops Generals Reveal What’s Next -- More, The Daily Caller,!

سازمان ملل: آماده کمک به حل بن‌بست انتخابات افغانستان هستیم --- سازمان ملل متحد گفته‌ که حاضر است به ایجاد اعتماد میان نامزدان انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان و کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات کمک کند. -- نیکلاس فینک هیسُم، معاون نماینده سازمان ملل متحد در کابل به خبرنگاران گفت: "ما آماده هستیم برای حل بن‌بست سیاسی کمک کنیم. وظیفه کنونی ما بازگرداندن کامل نامزدان به روند انتخابات است. دیگر هیچ راهی برای انتخاب یک رهبر مشروع وجود ندارد." -- عبدالله عبدالله یکی از نامزدان دور دوم انتخابات افغانستان، کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات را متهم به تقلب کرده و رابطه خود با این کمیسیون را به حالت تعلیق در آورده‌است. -- آقای عبدالله دو روز پیش هشدار داد که افغانستان به بن‌بست مواجه شده و از سازمان ملل خواسته بود تا برای حل مساله انتخابات افغانستان دخالت کند. -- حامد کرزی، رئیس جمهوری افغانستان نیز دیروز گفت که "پادرمیانی" سازمان ملل در روند انتخابات را می‌پذیرد. -- معاون نماینده سازمان ملل در کابل گفت که مذاکرات این سازمان هم اکنون با هر دو نامزد انتخابات افغانستان در جریان است و اعلام نتیجه مقدماتی انتخابات افغانستان نیز برای چند روز به تاخیر افتاده‌است. -- آقای هیسُم تاکید کرد که روند انتخابات به رهبری و مدیریت خود افغان‌ها به پیش برده شده و ادامه روند هم باید به همین شکل باشد. -- او گفت "بهترین گزینه این است که خود افغان‌‌ها در میان خود به راه حل دست پیدا کنند." -- در همین حال فاضل سنگچارکی، سخنگوی تیم انتخاباتی عبدالله عبدالله گفت که یان کوبیش نماینده سازمان ملل در افغانستان امروز با آقای عبدالله دیدار کرده‌ و به گفته سخنگوی آقای عبدالله، این نامزد بر تعویق نتایج انتخابات و برکناری رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون انتخابات تاکید کرد. -- عباس نویان، یکی از سخنگویان تیم اشرف غنی احمدزی نیز از تصمیم سازمان ملل برای کمک به حل بن‌بست انتخابات افغانستان استقبال کرده اما گفته که این تلاش‌ها نباید کار نهادهای انتخاباتی افغانستان را تحت شعاع قرار دهد. -- معاون یان کوبیش گفت که آقای احمدزی در حال حاضر برای درمان به خارج از افغانستان سفر کرده‌ و فردا شب باز می‌گردد. -- او همچنین از حامیان نامزدان خواست تا "از استفاده از بیانیه‌های تحریک‌آمیز و الفاظی‌که موجب تفرقه‌های قومی می‌شود، اجتناب کنند." --- تاخیر اعلام نتایج مقدماتی -- یوسف نورستانی، رئیس کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان نیز امروز در نشست خبری اعلام کرد که به دلیل ادامه گفت‌وگوها میان عبدالله عبدالله، سازمان ملل و حکومت افغانستان، نتایج مقدماتی انتخابات امروز اعلام نمی‌شود. -- پیشتر کمیسیون انتخابات اعلام کرده‌بود بخشی از نتایج مقدماتی انتخابات امروز اعلام می‌شود. -- آقای نورستانی گفت که ۸۰ درصد از برگه‌های رای‌دهی از ولایات مختلف به مرکز رسیده و وارد بانک اطلاعاتی این کمیسیون شده‌است. -- ضیاالحق امرخیل، رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون انتخابات که در این نشست شرکت داشت، گفت که اکنون مشخص شده که بیشتر از هفت میلیون نفر در دور دوم انتخابات شرکت داشتند. -- آقای عبدالله قبلا به اعلام این کمیسیون مبنی بر شرکت بیشتر از هفت میلیون نفر در این دور انتخابات اعتراض کرده‌بود. - BBC,

When drones fall from the sky --- More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation. -- Since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by The Post under the Freedom of Information Act. -- Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge. -- The documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes. -- Military drones have slammed into homes, farms, runways, highways, waterways and, in one case, an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane in midair. No one has died in a drone accident, but the documents show that many catastrophes have been narrowly averted, often by a few feet, or a few seconds, or pure luck. -- “All I saw were tents, and I was afraid that I had killed someone,” Air Force Maj. Richard Wageman told investigators after an accident in November 2008, when he lost control of a Predator that plowed into a U.S. base in Afghanistan. “I felt numb, and I am certain that a few cuss words came out of my mouth.” -- Investigators were unable to pinpoint a definitive cause for the accident but said wind and an aggressive turn by the pilot were factors. Wageman did not respond to a request for comment through an Air Force spokeswoman. -- Several military drones have simply disappeared while at cruising altitudes, never to be seen again. In September 2009, an armed Reaper drone, with a 66-foot wingspan, flew on the loose across Afghanistan after its handlers lost control of the aircraft. U.S. fighter jets shot it down as it neared Tajikistan. -- The documents describe a multitude of costly mistakes by remote-control pilots. A $3.8 million Predator carrying a Hellfire missile cratered near Kandahar in January 2010 because the pilot did not realize she had been flying the aircraft upside-down. Later that year, another armed Predator crashed nearby after the pilot did not notice he had squeezed the wrong red button on his joystick, putting the plane into a spin. -- While most of the malfunctioning aircraft have perished in combat zones, dozens have been destroyed in the United States during test and training flights that have gone awry. - More, Washingtonpost,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mafia Members Are 'Excommunicated', Pope Francis Says --- Pope Francis delivered a condemning message to Italy’s most powerful Mafia affiliation on Saturday, calling it an example of "the adoration of evil" and saying Mafiosi "are excommunicated." -- "This evil must be fought against, it must be pushed aside. We must say no to it,” the pope told a crowd, gathered at a mass in Cassano all'Ionio, a southern Italian town overrun by the ‘Ndrangheta Mafia. -- "Those who, in their lives, follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," Pope Francis said in unprepared comments at a mass before tens of thousands of people. His planned comments included allusions to the evils of abusing money and power, but did not reference the Mafia directly. -- Before the mass, the pope visited the imprisoned father of a 3-year-old child, who was found dead in a scorched car in January. The ‘Ndrangheta allegedly killed the toddler and two men in retribution for an unpaid drug debt. -- "This evil must be fought against, it must be pushed aside. We must say no to it," Pope Francis said during the mass. -- Earlier, the pontiff warned local priests to avoid individualism, ego and idol, “which unfortunately are widespread in our diocese.” -- Some priests in the area have been investigated for 'Ndrangheta involvement, allowing the mafia affiliate to contribute money for building churches and organizing processions, according to the Wall Street Journal. -- Pope Francis vowed that the church would devote comprehensive efforts to combat organized crime. - Elisha Fieldstadt,

Shiite ‘peace brigades’ send signal of aggression with major rally in Baghdad --- BAGHDAD — Carrying assault rifles, homemade rocket launchers and missiles, row after row of men in combat fatigues marched through the streets of Baghdad on Saturday, signaling the resurgence of one of Iraq’s most feared Shiite militias. -- Tens of thousands of fighters loyal to the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr packed the streets of Sadr City, the Shiite neighborhood in the capital that was named after his father. Other rallies were held in cities to the south. -- The men had answered a call from Sadr to form “peace brigades” to protect Iraq’s shrines and holy sites as al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents push forward in the country’s north. But their display Saturday, which came as the militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) made more gains, was a clear signal of aggression. -- The parades effectively marked a return to arms for the Mahdi Army, the powerful militia led by Sadr that once spearheaded an armed campaign against U.S. troops in Iraq. Their show of strength now in the face of a Sunni insurgency raised fears of a return to sectarian violence. -- “The Mahdi Army is rising again,” said Zaboun Ali, a 52-year-old laborer dressed in combat gear. A few yards away, lines of black-shirted men carrying rocket-propelled grenades jogged past. -- “This is the army that will protect the country,” he said gesturing toward them. -- The Mahdi Army’s activities have been frozen since 2008, after a period of violent sectarian conflict during which its members ran death squads targeting Sunnis and battled U.S. soldiers. -- In a reminder of the challenge they mounted against the U.S. presence, the volunteer fighters displayed a range of improvised explosive devices Saturday. Those included explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, bombs, which are able to punch through the armor of a tank and proved deadly against U.S. forces in their last years in Iraq. -- “We have two messages,” said Hakim al-Zamili, a member of parliament from Sadr’s political party who wore military fatigues as he watched the parade. “One is a message of peace, that we will defend Iraq and its shrines. The second is a message of terror to ISIS and al-Qaeda.” -- Announcing the “peace brigades” a day after the fall of the northern city of Mosul, Sadr stressed that he was not willing to fight a “dirty militia war.” His call to arms has been backed up by a religious decree by Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. -- Sadr has said he is willing for his men to work with Iraq’s security forces “temporarily,” as the state attempts to fend off the insurgency. -- The United States is increasing its assistance to the Iraqi military, sending 300 advisers despite the increasingly blurred lines between Shiite militias and the country’s security forces. -- “We are part of the Iraqi army now. We are all one, united under the flag of Islam,” said Salman Ghloom, a 65-year-old participant. -- Ghloom, like many, said that he had fought against the American occupation of Iraq, launching attacks on U.S. soldiers, and that he opposes U.S. assistance in the fight against ISIS. -- “If America is going to send troops back to Iraq, we are a time bomb waiting for them,” said Adel Jabbar al-Bawi, a 41-year-old merchant, sitting on the back of a truck after taking part in the march. “We will eat them alive.” -- Others said they would welcome assistance in the form of airstrikes, as ISIS militants pressed their offensive against crumbling Iraqi government troops. -- The al-Qaeda offshoot on Saturday captured the crossing of Qaim on the border with Syria, dealing another setback to the shrinking authority of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. - More, Loveday Morris, Washingtonpost

Afghan Political Confrontation Turns Into Deadly Gunfight --- KABUL—Afghan President Hamid Karzai suggested that the United Nations may help adjudicate an increasingly dangerous dispute over allegations of massive fraud in the country's June 14 presidential election. --- Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, has accused Afghan election authorities of bias toward his rival candidate, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, and Thursday said he won't recognize the election's outcome. Mr. Abdullah's campaign alleges that about one million ballots were stuffed for Mr. Ghani, mostly in eastern Afghanistan, a charge that the Ghani campaign denies. -- A shootout Friday between supporters of the two candidates in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif claimed at least five lives, underscoring the potential for wider violence over the election. -- In remarks to religious leaders on Friday, Mr. Karzai said U.Ninvolvement—something Mr. Abdullah has requested—would be a "good step" to help defuse the crisis. Mr. Karzai also said his two vice presidents—one of whom is allied with Mr. Ghani and the other with Mr. Abdullah—could help mediate between the candidates to resolve the impasse. -- "It now depends on the respected candidates to choose one of the two options, and the government will respect their choice," he said. -- The U.N.'s spokesman in Afghanistan said that the U.N. was ready to help forge "an Afghan-led" resolution to the matter. -- "We note the comments made by presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah earlier this week about a potential U.N. role, as well as those of President Karzai today," the spokesman, Ari Gaitanis, said. "The U.N. stands ready to facilitate an Afghan-led process in which both sides will cooperate, but we need to hear more details about any proposal." -- In a statement Wednesday, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan called on both candidates to "control their supporters to prevent them from making any irresponsible statements and from taking steps that could lead to civil disorder and instability." -- Already, small sit-ins organized by Mr. Abdullah's supporters have begun in Kabul. Larger demonstrations are planned for Saturday. -- In northern Kabul, more than 100 supporters of Mr. Abdullah erected a small tent city and hung posters protesting alleged fraud. - More, WSJ,

یوناما, ،کمیسیون او اشرف غني د م.م. له خوا د انتخاباتي بهیر له څارلو سره موافقه وکړه --- د ولسمشرۍ مخکښ کاندید اشرف غني احمدزي، په افغانستان کې د ملګروملتو مرستندوی دفتر یا یوناما او د انتخاباتو خپلواک کمیسیون د ملګروملتو له لارې د افغانستان په انتخاباتو کې د عبدالله عبدالله له لوري د راپورته شوي جنجال له حل کولو سره موافقه ښکاره کړه. -- وروسته له دې چې د جمعې په ورځ ولسمشر کرزي وویل چې د عبدالله عبدالله دا غوښتنه مني چې د انتخاباتو د درغلیو مسله دې د ملګروملتو یو پلاوی وڅېړي، ملګروملتو وویل چې د دې لانجې حل ته تیار دي. -- خو ملګروملتو شرط ایښی چې د افغانستان د انتخاباتو د مسلې په حل کې په هغه صورت کې مرسته کوي چې د پروسې مشري د افغانانو په مشرۍ وي او ټولې خواوې موافقې وي. -- عبدالله عبدالله هم نن په کابل کې د افغانستان لپاره د ملګروملتو له خاص استازي یان کوبیش سره وکتل او پر دې موضوع یې خبرې ورسره وکړې. -- د افغانستان د انتخاباتو خپلواک کمیسیون هم نن وویل چې د ملګروملتو له لوري د انتخاباتي بهیر د څارلو او په دې پروسه کې د دې موسسې د رول هرکلی کوي. -- د انتخاباتو د خپلواک کمیسیون رییس محمد یوسف نورستاني نن په یوه خبرې غونډه کې وویل، د انتخاباتو د قسمي پایلو اعلان ځکه ځنډول شوی چې په دې پروسه کې لا زیات شفافیت رعایت شي. -- نوموړي وویل چېدانتخاباتوپهپروسهکېدراپورتهشوېستونزېدحللپاره دا مهال د ملګروملتونو، افغان حکومت او د ولسمشرۍ د کاندید عبدالله عبداللهترمنځ خبرې دوام لري. -- د اشرف غني احمدزي د انتخاباتي ټیم یوه غړي ظاهر زهیر بیا وویل چې انتخابات سم ترسره شوي او د انتخاباتي چارو مسوولیت د انتخاباتو د خپلواک کمیسیون او دغه راز د انتخاباتي شکایتونو په غاړه دی. -- خو ده په عین حال کې په دې مسله کې د ملګروملتو له رول سره مخالفت ونه کړ. --- له بلې خوا نیویارک ټایمز ورځپاڼه وايي، د ډاکتر اشرف غني احمدزي د انتخاباتي ټیم یوه بل ویندوی صدیق پتمن وویل:«موږ د رایو په شمېرلو کې د ملګروملتو له څېړنې او څارنې سره کومه ستونزه نه لرو. هره موسسه او ټولنه چې غواړي په دې برخه کې څېړنه وکړي موږ یې هرکلی کوو.» -- د نیویارک ټایمز ورځپاڼې د راپور له مخې د عبدالله عبدالله د انتخاباتي ټیم یوه ویندوی وحید عمر وویل:«څه چې زموږ لپاره مهم دي دا دي چې پروسه باید اعتبار او مشروعیت ولري. ښاغلی عبدالله په دې موضوع د ملګروملتو له خاص استازي یان کوبیش سره خبرې کوي.» -- د انتخاباتو خپلواک کمیسون وايي چې تراوسه 80 فیصده رايې سیسټم ته داخل شوي او یواځي 20 فیصده نورې رايې پاتې دي. - تاند

UN ready to assist Afghanistan in resolving ‘political impasse’ – senior UNAMA official --- 21 June 2014 – A senior United Nations official in Afghanistan said today that the world body stands ready, as the representative body of the international community, to assist in resolving the “current political impasse” that has arisen in the wake of last week’s Presidential run-off elections. -- The UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for the country, Nicholas Haysom, also made it clear that any role for the UN should be agreed with the relevant Afghan stakeholders involved. -- “We have very firmly stated that we will walk with Afghans down this difficult road in this political transition,” Mr. Haysom said at a brief media encounter in the capital, Kabul. “If it’s their decision, and they tell us what we can do, and provided it has broad agreement – it’s not a role which has the support of only one party – then we would do what we could do to assist.” -- However, Mr. Haysom, who is also a deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the UN would not take any step that would be seen as “interfering or substituting the UN for Afghan leadership.” -- “So to clarify the UN’s position, and I think the position of the international community, is that we want to reassure the Afghan people that we stand ready to assist them and to support them in resolving this political impasse,” he added. -- Mr. Haysom’s comments come three days after one of the two Presidential candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, announced the suspension of his campaign’s involvement in the Afghan-led and -managed elections process, called for a halt to that process and raised the possibility of a commission to settle poll-related disputes under UN supervision. In remarks on Friday, President Hamid Karzai echoed Dr. Abdullah’s suggestion of a possible UN role as one of two options to address the political impasse. -- A number of Dr. Abdullah’s supporters staged demonstrations across the country today. -- Speaking in today’s media encounter, Mr. Haysom called the organization of peaceful demonstrations as “a perfectly democratic right.” --- He also warned that “should any violence emanate from the demonstrations it could set back the process, make the task of the trust-building more difficult, it could lead to spiral of instability; it could be corrosive for the morale of the Afghan National Security Forces, whom we urge to act with full neutrality and professionalism at this difficult time.” -- In the 14 June run-off elections, Afghan voters had a choice between Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to lead the country. The two candidates emerged after the first round of the poll on 5 April, which saw no candidate gain the 50 per cent plus one of the total number of votes needed to become the President. -- UN officials have previously described the elections, which was one of the most intensively observed, as being critical to the country’s stability and continued international support. -- Mr. Haysom also noted “a disturbing tone” in some social media outlets, and called upon supporters of the candidates to refrain from inflammatory statements or statements that promote “a divisive ethnic mobilization.” -- He, instead, urged the candidates re-engage fully in the electoral process, adding that the most important assistance UN can give now is “to provide a bridge between those who need to be talking to each other.” -- “Just to emphasize once again: going forward, we are going to be encouraging the candidates and the candidate teams to engage with each other, and with the election management bodies, hopefully, in the task of building trust and confidence in the process,” the UN official said. - More, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

U.S. spy agencies warned Maliki was 'alienating' Iraq's Sunnis --- (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly warned top government officials that Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki and his policies were gravely antagonizing his country's Sunni population, two U.S. security officials said on Friday. --- The officials said the warnings were contained in secret intelligence reports and analyses presented in the last two years to policymaking officials, including President Barack Obama. -- The reports concluded that Maliki and his government were creating so much animosity among Iraq's Sunnis that this would empower and embolden violent militant groups, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. --- Obama is sending 300 military advisers to Iraq to help stop the offensive by the Sunni militant ISIL and is demanding a more inclusive government be formed in Baghdad. -- But he has stopped short of calling for the replacement of Maliki, who took over in 2006 during ferocious Sunni-Shi'ite violence three years after the U.S.-led invasion. --- Intelligence agencies explicitly warned that Maliki's policies in recent years "alienated the Sunni population and gave ISIL space to operate," said a senior intelligence official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information. -- Spy agencies also warned that Maliki was "failing to reconcile differences festering" between Iraq's rival Muslim communities and said that all of Iraq's leaders needed to do more to address the growing sectarian tensions, the senior intelligence official said. -- This contrasted with public comments by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who in his annual presentation to Congress on "worldwide threats" in January made only bland references to religious tensions in Iraq. - More, Mark Hosenball,

Obamas want daughters to get taste of life on minimum wage: Parade --- (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and wife Michelle both worked minimum-wage jobs before they got law degrees: a character-building experience they said they also want their teenage daughters to share. -- The president scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, waited tables at an assisted-living facility for seniors and also worked as a painter. The first lady worked at a book binding shop. -- "I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it's like to do that real hard work," Michelle Obama said in an interview with Parade magazine, slated to run on Sunday. -- "We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair," the president said. "But that's what most folks go through every single day." --- The first couple has taken pains to keep their daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, out of the public eye while in the White House. But Malia was recently spotted on the set of a CBS television program, working as a production assistant for a day. --- The Obamas gave the interview to promote a summit the White House is holding on Monday to discuss policies to help working families. -- "There are structures that can help families around child care, healthcare, and schooling that make an enormous difference in people's lives," Obama said in the interview. --- In the interview, the Obamas talked about how they lived for a year on the second floor of the house of Michelle's mom Marian Robinson after law school, drove a used car that they bought for $1,000, and worked through the stress of being saddled with student loans and small children. -- They acknowledged that their careers gave them the chance to earn good incomes and negotiate family leave when they needed it - a luxury that most minimum-wage workers do not have. -- They acknowledged that their careers gave them the chance to earn good incomes and negotiate family leave when they needed it - a luxury that most minimum-wage workers do not have. -- "But what it made me think about was people who were on the clock," the president said. "If you're an hourly worker in most companies, and you say, 'I've got to take three days off,' you may lose your job. At minimum, you're losing income you can't afford to lose," he said. - More,

Which countries have the worst record for human trafficking? - interactive --- The US State department releases its annual Trafficking in Persons report Friday. Thailand, Malaysia, Columbia, Cyprus and Qatar are downgraded after revelations of appalling maltreatment of workers that amount to modern-day slavery, while Afghanistan and Sudan improved their rating -- • US demotes Thailand and Qatar for abysmal human trafficking records - More,

Friday, June 20, 2014

نیویارک تایمز: بازی با آتش در افغانستان --- روزنامه نیویارک تایمز با عنوان "بازی با آتش در افغانستان" مقالهء را نشر کرده است. روزنامه می نویسد که در این لحظات حساس و حیاتی، بی نظمی در روند شمارش آرا و درخواست عبدالله عبدالله یک بحران سیاسی را به میان آورده می تواند. -- آقای عبدالله به روز چهارشنبه از کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان خواست تا روند شمارش آرای انتخابات بیست و چهارم جوزا را متوقف سازد. او به این ترتیب ناظرین اش را از کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات فراخواند. -- نیویارک تایمز می نویسد: این عملکرد عبدالله عبدالله که در یک وضعیت حساس و با توجه به هشدار های طالبان صورت می گیرد، شاید یک فاجعه باشد. -- به باور روزنامه، اگر برنده انتخابات اعلان نشود، احتمال وجود دارد که مبارزه های سیاسی رنگ نژادی و قومی به خود بگیرد و به این ترتیب، انتقال قدرت به صورت دموکراتیک ناممکن شود. -- نیویارک تایمز می افزاید: در نتیجه بی نظمی ها قدرت تصمیم گیری حکومت از بین می رود و جلو امضای توافقنامه امنیتی میان کابل و واشنگتن که حضور نیرو های امریکایی را پس از سال 2014 تضمین می کند، گرفته خواهد شد. -- روزنامه در ادامه نوشته است: دموکراسی در افغانستان جوان بوده و سیاست تاریخی این کشور به اصول اقوام ایستاده است. -- به نوشته نیویارک تایمز، با موجودیت فساد گسترده اداری، شماری زیاد از آگاهان، مقام های امریکایی و شمار زیادی از مردم به این باور اند که در انتخابات تقلب شده است. -- عبدالله عبدالله ادعا میکند که در دور دوم انتخابات، صندوق ها به نفع اشرف غنی احمدزی پُر شده اند. او به شمول یک مقام ارشد کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات، شماری از مقام های حکومتی را به تقلب متهم می کند. --- روزنامه می نویسد: مشکل اصلی در اینجاست که کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات تا حالا هیچ گونه نتیجه رسمی را اعلان نکرده و عبدالله عبدالله در مورد تقلب ها شواهدی را ارائه نکرده است، باز هم وی این پروسه را تحریم کرد. -- بر اساس قوانین افغانستان، شکایت های انتخابات، تقلب و بی نظمی از سوی کمیسیون شکایات انتخاباتی بررسی می شود و این کار در صورتی ممکن است که نتیجه اعلان شود. --- نیویارک تایمز در اخیر این مقاله می نویسد: در صورت بی نظمی سیاسی در افغانستان، شاید ایالات متحده و تمویل کننده های بین المللی بر کمک های مالی و سایر همکاری های شان با کابل غور کنند اما افغانستان، توان و تحمل برداشت چنین وضعیت را نخواهد داشت. - رادیو آزادی

THE EDITORIAL BOARD -- Playing With Fire in Afghanistan --- At this pivotal moment for Afghanistan, one of the two candidates for president, Abdullah Abdullah, is creating a political crisis by trying to interrupt the vote-counting in Saturday’s runoff. On Wednesday, he demanded that the election commission stop counting ballots and withdrew his election observers from the process. -- This could be catastrophic for Afghanistan, which is still very fragile and under grave threat from the Taliban. If no winner is decided, there is likely to be a protracted political struggle along ethnic lines that could make it impossible to transfer power democratically. -- The uncertainty would paralyze government decision-making and prevent the signing of a security agreement that would allow the United States to leave a residual force in Afghanistan after combat troops depart later this year. --- Mr. Abdullah’s complaint is that his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, and President Hamid Karzai orchestrated a huge fraud in the vote, a charge both Mr. Ghani and Mr. Karzai have denied. But Mr. Abdullah believes he was cheated when he came in second to Mr. Karzai in 2009 and is trying to pre-empt defeat this time. -- Afghanistan is new to democratic practices and given its history of tribal-based politics and widespread corruption, many people, including international experts and American officials, have assumed some level of fraud in the balloting. The issue this time, as in the elections that gave Mr. Karzai two terms as president, is whether the fraud was so substantial that voters could not accept whatever results emerged. -- Mr. Abdullah led Mr. Ghani in the first round of voting in April, and supporters believe he has picked up enough additional support to win the runoff. He has alleged that as many as two million of seven million votes estimated to have been cast were because of ballot-box stuffing, most in favor of Mr. Ghani. He also claims that at least one senior member of the Independent Election Commission has tried to rig the election for Mr. Ghani. -- The problem is that no official vote tallies have been released by the election commission, and Mr. Abdullah has, so far, presented no firm proof to support his allegations. Moreover, he is now rejecting a process laid out under Afghan law that he initially accepted and seems to be repudiating the very protections that were put in place to adjudicate fraud and other election complaints. He is entitled, for instance, to ask the commission to investigate irregularities, but that is supposed to happen after the partial vote results are announced in the next few weeks. -- The United States and the United Nations, which has been instrumental in advising Afghan on its election procedures, have prudently not taken sides. In a bluntly worded statement, the United Nations called for the candidates to respect the national electoral system they promised to participate in when they opened their campaigns. A senior American official, James Dobbins, testifying before Congress this week, urged the candidates and their supporters not to prejudge the outcome. -- As hard as it is to lose, both candidates have to be prepared for such a result. Political uncertainty could lead the United States and other international donors to rethink their commitment of monetary aid and other support in the future. That is not an outcome that Afghanistan can afford. - NYTimes,

Merkel, Cameron clash over who should fill top E.U. job --- BERLIN — British comedian Eddie Izzard once joked that politics in the European Union are “extraordinarily boring.” But these days, they are anything but. -- An open political brawl has broken out between the region’s two most influential leaders — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron — over who will be the European Commission’s next president. -- A successor to President José Manuel Barroso is expected to be anointed at a summit in Brussels next week. But the candidate Merkel is backing, and the clear front-runner — Jean-Claude Juncker, former prime minister of Luxembourg — has not sat well with the British, to say the least. -- Perhaps that is not surprising. London is leading the charge to repatriate powers from Brussels, the E.U.’s administrative capital, demanding changes to rules that override domestic laws on everything from the free flow of labor around the union to human rights policies. Juncker — who would wield tremendous power over legislation and commission appointments as head of the E.U.’s executive branch — is seen in Britain as precisely the wrong person to bargain with. -- The 59-year-old career politician is seen as the ultimate insider and is often portrayed as an ally of the Brussels bureaucrats who are angling for more of the ties that bind Europe, not fewer. British tabloids, meanwhile, are fueling “Junckerphobia,” with the Sun even dubbing him “the most dangerous man in Europe.” -- Cameron, who has called for a referendum on whether Britain should leave the E.U. by 2017, has openly warned that a Juncker victory would compromise the commission’s “credibility.” Privately, according to Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine, Cameron has gone further, saying on the sidelines of a recent summit that Juncker at the helm of the European Commission would only harden the British against the E.U. and potentially pave the way to an exit. Despite growing support for Juncker, Cameron, in comments this week, vowed to keep opposing him “right up to the end.” -- Merkel, meanwhile, has countered by seemingly questioning Cameron’s “European spirit.” When asked by reporters if Cameron was threatening her with a British exit if Juncker emerged victorious, she appeared to take a jab at No. 10 Downing St., saying “threats are not part and parcel of that spirit.” -- You could say that this is becoming a classic Greek drama, and it is turning more into a tragedy than a comedy,” said Olaf Boehnke, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. - More,

Obama sending up to 300 soldiers to Iraq as advisers, says move is limited --- President Obama authorized additional military assistance for Iraq’s fight against advancing Islamist militants Thursday, but made clear that he will continue to hold back more substantive support, including U.S. airstrikes, until he sees a direct threat to U.S. personnel or a more inclusive and capable Iraqi government. -- Obama said he would send up to 300 additional U.S. Special Operations troops to better assess the situation on the ground, where forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have moved ever nearer to Baghdad, and to determine “how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward.” -- With the “situational awareness” provided by the advisers and with intelligence assets being increased in and around Iraq, Obama said, “we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.” -- But “American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again,” he said, a point he made repeatedly during remarks in the White House briefing room. “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by Iraqis.” -- The administration is straddling difficult politics in Iraq and at home, seeking to answer Republican critics such as House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) who claim that Obama is “taking a nap” while Iraq crumbles and to assure political supporters that he is not opening a new front in the Middle East. -- In Iraq, U.S. diplomats are urgently pushing for a new government that can prevent a sectarian civil war in which Kurds move to protect their northern territory, estranged Sunnis join the militants, and the majority Shiites retreat into an Iran-backed fortress. -- While Obama did not call directly for the departure of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, he made clear that Maliki has not met the challenge of the current crisis. -- “Right now is a moment where the fate of Iraq hangs in the balance,” he said. “And the test for all of them is going to be where they can overcome the mistrust, the deep sectarian divisions, in some cases just political opportunism and say, this is bigger than any one of us, and we’ve got to make sure that we do what’s right for the Iraqi people.” -- The United States has backed Maliki’s leadership over the past eight years even as he shrugged off warnings about political inclusion and the resurgence of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni extremist organization that was reborn as ISIS in neighboring Syria’s ongoing civil war. - More,

President Karzai says U.N. should intervene in Afghan vote count --- (Reuters) - Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai said on Friday that he was in favour of the United Nations intervening in the presidential election after one of the candidates dropped out of the process over allegations of mass fraud. -- Former opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah withdrew his monitors and demanded the vote count be halted, potentially derailing what is seen as a make-or-break vote before most foreign troops leave. He also called for the United Nations to intervene to salvage the process. -- "Pointing to Dr Abdullah's suggestion about the U.N. role ... Karzai said that not only he agreed with this suggestion but he counts it a positive step for tackling this problem," a statement from his office said. - More,

Global refugee figure passes 50m for first time since second world war --- UNHCR report says more than half of those displaced are children, with aid organisations reaching breaking point -- The number of people forced to flee their homes across the world has exceeded 50 million for the first time since the second world war, an exponential rise that is stretching host countries and aid organisations to breaking point, according to figures released on Friday. -- Half the world's refugees are children, many travelling alone or in groups in a desperate quest for sanctuary, and often falling into the clutches of people traffickers, the annual UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) global trends report said. -- More than 25,000 unaccompanied children lodged asylum applications in 77 countries last year, a fraction of the number of displaced minors across the globe. ---"We are witnessing a quantum leap in forced displacement in the world," António Guterres, head of the UN's refugee agency, said as figures for 2013 showed a total of 51.2 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people. If displaced people had their own country it would be the 24th most populous in the world. --- The increase of 6 million over the 2012 figures has mainly been driven by the war in Syria. By the end of last year, 2.5 million Syrians had fled across the country's borders and 6.5 million were internally displaced – more than 40% of the population. -- Conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan also contributed to rising numbers. -- The data represented "a world where peace is dangerously in deficit", said Guterres. "And that peace deficit represents the incapacity of the international community firstly to prevent conflicts and secondly, to find solutions to those conflicts." • Refugees – 16.7 million people worldwide. Apart from 5 million Palestinians, the biggest refugee populations by source country are Afghans, Syrians and Somalis, which together account for half the total. The main host countries were Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Eighty-six per cent of the world's refugees are hosted by developing countries – up from 70% a decade ago. -- • Asylum seekers – close to 1.2 million people submitted asylum claims, mostly in developed countries. In terms of country of origin, the highest number was from Syria (64,300), followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (60,400) and Burma (57,400). Germany was the largest recipient. -- • Internally displaced people – a record 33.3 million were forced to flee their homes but remained within their country's borders. - More, Harriet Sherwood

Kevin McCarthy beats Raul Labrador to become House majority leader --- Moderate California congressman replaces Eric Cantor after seeing off challenge from Tea Party-backed Labrador -- The crucial contest for Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives has been won by Kevin McCarthy, after a swift, decisive victory that will reassure a party establishment shaken by the sudden demise of Eric Cantor. -- However in a significant victory for southern conservatives in the GOP, a separate election for chief whip was won decisively by a staunch rightwinger from Louisiana, Steve Scalise. -- Cantor's stunning primary defeat to a virtually unknown Tea Party candidate last week forced him to stand down as majority leader and prompted a frenzied period of jockeying for power in the top ranks of the party. -- The establishment's preferred candidate, moved quickly to control the race, seeing off a number of potential rightwing contenders. -- McCarthy, 49, a popular, well-connected Californian, whose rapid ascent through the ranks marks him out as a future GOP star, triumphed over Raul Labrador, a Tea Party-aligned member from Idaho. -- The election for majority leader and majority whip, the second and third ranking jobs in the House, were decided at a closed-door ballot held by House Republicans on Capitol Hill on Thursday. -- They were secret ballots, in which three party elders manually counted the ballot papers and then announced the winner to the meeting. The breakdown of votes were not revealed. -- In brief remarks after the vote, McCarthy was asked to respond to grassroots Republicans should felt Cantor’s defeat by a Tea Party insurgent should have resulted in a more conservative majority leader – rather than the election of a member from the Democratic state of California. -- “They elected a guy who is a grandson of a cattle-rancher, the son of a firefighter,” McCarthy said. “They elected a guy who has only grown-up with the grassroots.” - More, Paul Lewis

گاردین: موقف عبدالله یک تهدید برای انتخابات افغانستان به شمار می رود --- بررسی مطبوعات / جهان -- یک تعداد از روزنامه های غربی در شماره های اخیر خود درباره بیانات اخیرعبدالله عبدالله کاندید ریاست جمهوری افغانستان مطالبی را به نشر رسانده اند که گفته است خواهان توقف شمارش آرای دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری در این کشور می باشد. -- روزنامه گاردین چاپ بریتانیا در شماره اخیر خود می نویسد: این موقف عبدالله عبدالله یک تهدید غیرمترقبه به انتخابات افغانستان بشمار می رود ، انتخاباتی که همه از آن استقبال کردند و میلیون ها افغان با وصف تهدید های طالبان در آن سهم گرفتند. -- به نوشته گاردین افغانستان به یک انتقال سریع قدرت سیاسی نیاز داد و نباید در این پروسه تاخیر ایجاد شود و اکنون این سخنان عبدالله عبدالله از یک سو نتایج انتخابات را به سوال رو به رو می سازد و از سوی دیگر در مجموع در رابطه با آینده ثبات افغانستان در بین بعضی مردم نگرانی بار می آورد. -- از سوی دیگر برای اعلان نتایج انتخابات هم مهلت طولانی در نظر گرفته شده بود یعنی در 22 جولای و اکنون این سخنان عبدالله عبدالله راه را باز می کند که اعلان نهایی نتاییج حتی از تاریخ تعیین شده آن هم دیرتر صورت بگیرد و حالات سیاسی افغانستان را پیچیده تر بسازد. روزنامه می افزاید دو روز بعد از ختم دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان هیات ناظرین انتخابات از انستیتوت ملی دموکراسی امریکا اعلان نمود مشکلاتی که مشاهده شدند گسترده و سیستماتیک نبودند. -- روزنامه به یک نکته دیگر هم اشاره می کند که رئیس جمهور کرزی بسیار کوشش کرد خارجیان را از پروسه انتخابات افغانستان خارج نگهدارد، ولی اکنون عبدالله عبدالله راه حل شکایت های خود را در دخالت ملل متحد می بیند که برعکس خواسته رئیس جمهور کرزی می باشد. -- روزنامه دیگر چاپ بریتانیا دیلی تلگراف در شماره اخیر خود می نویسد، اعتراضات عبدالله عبدالله امید های بزرگ را که اولین بار در افغانستان قدرت از طریق سیاسی و صلح آمیز انتقال خواهد کرد تا حدی به یاس تبدیل می کند. ---- به نوشته روزنامه در یک زمانی که قوای محارب بین المللی افغانستان را ترک می کنند، این حالت می تواند بی ثباتی را هم در افغانستان دامن بزند. اما روزنامه به سخنان اخیر رئیس جمهور کرزی اشاره می کند که گفته است هیچ خطری افغانستان را تهدید نخواهد کرد. -- دیلی تلگراف می نویسد در شمارش ابتدایی آرا معلوم شده است که اشرف غنی احمدزی کاندید دیگر ریاست جمهوری افغانستان در حدود یک میلیون رای نسبب به عبدالله عبدالله بیشتر دارد. اما تیم انتخاباتی عبدالله عبدالله به این ارقام باور ندارند، در حالی که تیم اشرف غنی احمدزی گفته است تمام رای های بدست آمده پاک می باشند و چنین تبصره ها از سوی کاندید رقیب مردم افغانستان را نگران نخواهد ساخت. - رادیو آزادی

Afghanistan: UN urges respect for electoral processes as candidate questions run-off vote --- 18 June 2014 – Following the announcement today by an Afghan presidential candidate that he will suspend cooperation with the electoral process, the United Nations has called for respect of the country’s Constitution and laws, as well as its independent electoral institutions. -- In a press statement, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it learned of the decision of Abdullah Abdullah to suspend his campaign’s cooperation with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) at his press conference today, in addition to his suggestion that a commission under UN supervision be created to oversee the election process. -- Dr. Abdullah has reportedly alleged massive fraud in the early tallies from the 14 June run-off vote that also included Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. The winner will replace President Hamid Karzai in the country’s first-ever democratic handover of power. -- In the wake of Dr. Abdullah’s announcement, UNAMA chief Ján Kubiš said “regrettable as this step may be, we will continue to engage closely with both campaigns and the electoral commissions, consulting with them on a way forward.” He also recalled the code of conduct signed by both candidates where they pledged to cooperate with the electoral commissions. -- “We believe that the electoral process should continue as laid out in the laws passed by the National Assembly. In particular, the mandate of the electoral institutions – [IEC] and the [IECC] – must be respected,” he added. -- “For their part, the electoral bodies have to demonstrate the highest levels of transparency and integrity and continue to proactively respond to valid candidate concerns,” Mr. Kubiš continued. “All efforts should be made to ensure that all valid votes are counted and all invalid ballots rejected – such efforts will have our full support.” -- With the utmost concern, the UN Mission noted that appeals to circumvent or abandon the legal process and framework and appeal directly to supporters could incite violence. Indeed, some people have already called for civil disobedience and some incidents have already taken place, UNAMA said in its statement. -- As such, UNAMA strongly urged the candidates to take all steps necessary to control their supporters to prevent them from making any irresponsible statements and from taking steps that could lead to civil disorder and instability. -- In addition, the Mission urged the candidates and their supporters to act in the national interest and reminded them of their personal and political responsibility for peace, stability and the unity of the country. - More,

سازمان ملل: تعداد پناهندگان و آوارگان در سال ۲۰۱۳ از پنجاه میلیون گذشت --- آژانس پناهندگان سازمان ملل متحد می‌گوید در سال گذشته میلادی (۲۰۱۳) بیش از پنجاه میلیون نفر به خاطر جنگ یا شکنجه و آزار و اذیت در طبقه‌بندی پناهندگان قرار گرفتند یا در داخل کشورهایشان آواره شدند. -- از زمان جنگ دوم جهانی، این بیشترین میزان رشد آوارگان در سطح جهان است. این رقم، همچنین شش میلیون نفر بیشتر از سال قبل از آن است. -- از این تعداد، حدود هفده میلیون نفر از کشورهای خود فرار کرده‌اند و بیش از سی و سه میلیون نفر نیز در داخل کشورهایشان آواره شده‌اند. -- بسیاری از آوارگان، سال‌ها در اردوگاه‌های پناهجویان زندگی می‌کنند --- جنگ در سوریه علت اصلی افزایش تعداد آوارگان است اما در دو کشور سودان جنوبی و جمهوری آفریقای مرکزی نیز مناقشاتی تازه در جریان است. -- آژانس پناهندگان سازمان ملل می‌گوید افزایش بی‌سابقه تعداد پناهندگان، هزینه بسیار سنگینی است که برای شکست در جلوگیری از نبردها و مناقشات باید پرداخت. -- این آژانس همچنین گفته است که کشورهای ثروتمند باید تعداد بیشتری از پناهندگان را پذیرا شوند. -- در همین حال آنتونیو گوتراس، رییس آژانس پناهندگان سازمان ملل از لبنان خواسته است همچنان افرادی را که می‌خواهند از سوریه وارد لبنان شوند، بپذیرد. -- روز پنج‌شنبه، یک وزیر لبنانی گفت دولت او تنها به پناهجویان اهل مناطق نزدیک مرز دو کشور که نبرد در آنها جریان دارد، اجازه ورود می‌دهد. - لبنان در حال حاضر میزبان بیش از یک میلیون پناهجوی سوری است. -- آقای گوتراس به بی‌بی‌سی گفت مذاکره با لبنان در جریان است اما افزود زادگاه آدم‌ها نباید ملاک پذیرش پناهجویی آنها باشد. -- وی گفت اگر به این شکل مانع ورود افراد شویم، این خطر وجود دارد که یک موقعیت ناگوار به یک فاجعه تبدیل شود. - BBC,

Global refugee figures highest since WW2, UN says --- The number of people forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution exceeded 50 million in 2013, the first time since World War Two, the UN refugee agency says. -- The overall figure of 51.2 million is six million higher than the year before, a report by the UNHCR says. -- Antonio Guterres, head of the UNHCR, told the BBC the rise was a "dramatic challenge" for aid organisations. -- Conflicts in Syria, central Africa and South Sudan fuelled the sharp increase. -- "Conflicts are multiplying, more and more," Mr Guterres said. "And at the same time old conflicts seem never to die." -- Of particular concern are the estimated 6.3 million people who have been refugees for years, sometimes even decades. --- Internally displaced -- People living in what the UN terms "protracted" refugee situations include more than 2.5 million Afghans. Afghanistan still accounts for the world's largest number of refugees, and neighbouring Pakistan is host to more refugees than any other country, with an estimated 1.6 million. -- Around the world, thousands of refugees from almost forgotten crises have spent the best part of their lives in camps. Along Thailand's border with Burma, 120,000 people from Burma's Karen minority have lived in refugee camps for more than 20 years. -- Refugees should not be forcibly returned, the UN says, and should not go back unless it is safe to do so, and they have homes to return to. For many - among them the more than 300,000 mainly Somali refugees in Kenya's Dadaab camp - that is a very distant prospect. -- Some camps, the UN refugee agency admits, have become virtually permanent, with their own schools, hospitals, and businesses. But they are not, and can never be, home. --But the world's refugees are far outnumbered by the internally displaced (IDP) - people who have been forced to flee their homes, but remain inside their own countries. --- In Syria alone there are thought to be 6.5 million displaced people. The conflict has uprooted many families not once but several times. Their access to food, water, shelter and medical care is often extremely limited, and because they remain inside a conflict zone, it is hard for aid agencies to reach them. -- Worldwide, the UN estimates there are now 33.3 million internally displaced people. - Imogen Foulkes,

Thursday, June 19, 2014

King Felipe VI calls for 'new Spain' as he is sworn in --- King Felipe VI has called for "a new Spain that we will build together" after being proclaimed head of state in a ceremony in parliament. -- Earlier, King Felipe received the royal sash from his father, Juan Carlos, at the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid. -- He acceded to the throne at the stroke of midnight after King Juan Carlos formally abdicated on Wednesday. -- The proceedings have been kept low key, as many Spaniards are suffering economic hardship. -- The swearing-in ceremony took the form of a proclamation rather than a coronation. It is the first royal transition in Spain since democracy was restored in the 1970s. -- The new king, 46, swore an oath promising to uphold the constitution. -- The speaker of the lower house of parliament, Jesus Posada, then proclaimed him king, declaring: "Long live Spain! Long live the king!" -- In a speech to parliament, Felipe said he had "great hope" for the future of Spain and called for unity. -- "You will find in me a loyal head of state who is ready listen and understand, warn and advise as well as to defend the public interest at all times," he said. -- "The monarch wants to be close to citizens… ensuring it can preserve its prestige and dignity. -- "Now more than ever, citizens of Spain are rightly demanding fundamental ethical principles should govern our public life. The king should not only be a reference but who serves all citizens of Spain." - More,

UN, U.S. Embassy and British Embassy Call Abdullah's Decision Unfortunate --- Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah declaration on boycotting relations with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) raised reactions from the international community including the United Nations (UN), United States and Britain. -- "Election commissions must show highest level of transparency and trustee and must address concerns of candidates," Nazifullah Salarzay, spokesman for the United Nations Office in Afghanistan, said. "Efforts must be made to ensure that legit votes are counted and illegitimate votes are avoided, those instances will follow our complete support." -- The UN has asked that the constitution and election laws be respected by both the campaign teams and electoral commissions. They request that the campaign teams respect the works of the IEC, emphasizing that the election commission must be more transparent in the process. --- In resonance to the UN, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said in a press release that they hope that Dr. Abdullah will resume his cooperation with the electoral commissions. -- "There are specific guidelines for the review and addressing of complaints in Kabul and provinces for both commissions in each step of the election process," the U.S. Embassy press release stated. "Both candidates must continue their cooperation with the election institutions; we request the election commissions to show that concerns and complaints of the candidates are given attention and are addressed impartially. Talks between the electoral commissions and candidates are crucial and we persuade them to start direct talks as soon as possible." --- Meanwhile, the British Embassy in Kabul released in a press statement that the peoples' votes must be respected and that the electoral commissions seriously and immediately address all complaints. -- "We have been following closely the comments of the candidates and their teams since the election. The IEC and ECC have established mechanisms for receiving, investigating and adjudicating complaints," the British Embassy media release stated. "It is important that both campaign teams use these mechanisms, and we call on the Commissions to investigate all complaints promptly and rigorously and take all necessary corrective action. The votes of the Afghan people must be respected. We will strongly support both campaigns and the Commissions in their efforts to ensure that all fraudulent votes are identified and rejected." -- Meanwhile, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) officials said that they are also closely monitoring the situation, but have said that an election, as an independent government, is the responsibility of Afghanistan. -

نور: دټاکنو کمیسیون خپل کار ته دوام ورکوي --- دټاکنو خپلواک کمیسیون وایي چې دجمهوري ریاست دیو کاندید عبدالله عبدالله د پریکړې سره سره به دا کمیسیون خپل کارته دافغان او نړیوالو څارونکو او سیاسي ډلو داستازو په حضور کې دوام ورکړي. نورمحمد نور امریکا غږ اشنا راډیو سره په مرکه کې دجمهوري ریاست له دواړو کاندیدانو وغوښتل چې هغی کړنلاری ته چې دټاکنو دکمیسیون سره یې لاسلیک کړې، درناوی ورکړي. ښاغلي نور دملګرو ملتونو په مشرۍ دجمهوري ریاست ددواړو کاندیدانو داستازو په کډون دیوې کمیټي دجوړیدلو وړاندیز په باب وویل چې دټاکنو خپلواکه کمیسیون دافغانستان داساسي قانون له مخې په دغه هیواد کې یوازنۍ مرجع ده چې ټاکنی ترسره کولې شي. -- هغه زیاته کره: «زه فکر کوم چي‎ې دټاکنو دکمیسیون دټولو چارو او کارونو څخه نړیواله ټولنه له نږدی څارنه کوي لیدنه کوي دټاکنو خپلواک کمیسیون هغه نهاد دې چې دافغانستان داساسي قانون په اساس جوړ شوی او ددی استقلالیت یې کاملآ تاید کړي دی.» ښاغلي نور وویل چې نړیواله ټولنه له ډیر نږدی دټاکنو دخپلواک کمیسیون چاری څاری «زه په دی باندی ټینګار کوم چې دټاکنو خپلواک کمیسیون خلکو ته ځوابګو دی په پروسه کې ذینفعه نه دی مونږ ته مهمه نه ده چې ځوک وړونکی کیږی او څوک وړونکی نه کیږی مونږ ته مهمه داده چط پروسه بریالې اوسی.» -- دافغانستان دجمهوري ریاست یو کاندید عبدالله عبدالله دچهارشنبې په ورځ په یو اړخیز ډول دټاکنو دخپلواک کمیسیون سره خپلې اړیکې دتعلیق په حالت کې راوستلی او وویل چې تر هغی چې درې غوښتني نه وی منل شوی دټاکنو له کمیسیون سره به خپل پریکون ته دوام ورکړي. دډاکټر عبدالله په غوښتنو کې دټاکنو دخپلواکه کمیسیون ددارلانشا درئیس ددندی په تعلیق کې راوستل، دټاکنو دکمیسیون لخوا د ټاکنو په ورځ داوه میلیونو راییو ورکونو په ټاکنو کې برخه اخیستلو په باب وضاخت او په ناامنه سیمو کې په ټاکنو کې په زیات شمیر دخلکو ګدون په باب روڼتیا شامل دي. --- دیوناما غبرگون -- بلخوا په افغانستان کې دملگرو ملتونو سیاسي نمایندگي یوناما وایي، دجمهوري ریاست دیو کاندید عبدالله عبدالله څرگندونو چې دانتخاباتو دخپلواک کمیسیون سره یې خپلې اړیکې ځنډولي، دا سازمان یې حیران کړی دی. دیوناما ویاند ښاغلي سارلارزي دامریکا غږ سره په مرکه کې ویلي چې یوناما به ددواړو کمیسیونونو او ددواړو نوماندانو دانتخاباتي ټیمونو سره خپلې همکارۍ ته دوام ورکړي. خو زیاته یې کړه چې دا پروسه باید په قانوني لارو چارو سره دوام ومومي. ښاغلي سالارزي له نوماندانو او دهغوی دپلویانو څخه وغوښتل چې مسؤلانه عمل وکړي او دهر هغه اقدام او وینا نه ډډه وکړي چې دانتخاباتو دپروسې دگډوډیدو سبب کیږي مخنیوی وکړي. - دامریکا غږ

Iraq crisis stirs fears Afghanistan could be next --- WASHINGTON (AP) — The deteriorating situation in Iraq is giving Congress pause about President Barack Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, with fears that hard-fought gains could be wiped out by a resurgent Taliban. -- Senior Obama administration officials insist Afghanistan is not Iraq, with a population far more receptive to a continued U.S. presence and the promise of a new unity government. But the officials could offer no assurances that Afghanistan won't devolve into chaos after Americans leave, as Iraq has. -- "There's no guarantee," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate panel Wednesday. "It is up to the people of Afghanistan to make these decisions, their military, their new leadership that will be coming in as a result of their new government." -- The U.S. military mission in Iraq ended in December 2011 after eight years of war that cost hundreds of billions of dollars and more than 4,400 U.S. lives, a conclusion welcomed by a war-weary nation. The Obama administration had proposed keeping a residual U.S. force in Iraq to continue training Iraqis, but Baghdad rejected Washington's demand that its troops be granted immunity for prosecution while in the country. -- In the absence of the Americans, the fast-moving Sunni insurgency of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has prevailed over Iraqi security forces, conquering several cities, and is threatening the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described for Congress on Wednesday how some Iraqi security forces abandoned the fight against the ISIL. -- "Two divisions and part of two, and one national police organization did in fact throw down their arms and in some cases collude with (ISIL) and in some cases simply desert in northern Iraq," Dempsey said. -- Lawmakers fear a replay in Afghanistan after 2016 when U.S. forces leave. Last month, Obama announced that about 10,000 troops would stay in Afghanistan at the end of this year but be fully withdrawn by the end of 2016. -- In a private White House meeting Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pressed Obama about his definitive timetable for drawing down American troops, especially in light of the crisis in Iraq. The president defended his plan as the right approach, according to a congressional aide familiar with the talks who wouldn't discuss it publicly by name because the meeting was private. -- At two separate hearings on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats pressed administration officials about whether history would repeat itself and whether Afghan forces could defend the country after the U.S. leaves. -- The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., asked whether the timeline "emboldens militants in the country to wait (us) out." -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., predicted a reconstituted Taliban will threaten Afghanistan as the ISIL has done in Iraq. "We've seen this movie in Iraq," McCain said. -- James Dobbins, the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, countered that in Iraq "people didn't want us and not a single Iraqi politician was prepared to advocate our staying. In Afghanistan, the people overwhelmingly want us to stay, and every single contender in the presidential election said they would sign the (bilateral security agreement)." -- Western powers are counting on a peaceful transition in Kabul, but last weekend's runoff vote has prompted allegations of election fraud. Candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai hope to succeed President Hamid Karzai, who was prevented from seeking a third term. -- At the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wondered what the U.S. had learned from Iraq that could be applied to Afghanistan and whether its forces could defend themselves.-- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., expressed concern about a collapse in Afghanistan undercutting a nuclear-armed Pakistan. -- Dempsey said he was concerned about Afghanistan's future and said the U.S. military would continue to work on building a resilient Afghan force. -- "But at the end of the day, a security force is only as good as the instrument that wields it, and that's the central government," the general said. -- He added that Afghans are "more tenacious fighters than their Iraqi counterparts." -- The Afghanistan war has lasted more than a decade, cost billions of dollars and killed more than 2,100 members of the U.S. military. Obama has public sentiment on his side in taking steps to end the conflict, while a number of lawmakers are resistant to keeping U.S. troops in the country beyond 2016. -- "I don't think we want to be the permanent occupiers of Afghanistan," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in an interview. "At a certain point, with our help, it's up to the Afghan government to earn the support of its people. And if they can't do that, I don't want American troops simply to be there in harm's way with a recalcitrant government." - More,

حامدکرزی: جنجالهای انتخاباتی باعث بحران در کشور نمی‌شود --- رئیس جمهوری افغانستان گفته که نامزدهای انتخابات ریاست جمهوری، نتایج انتخابات را می‌پذیرند، اما عبدالله عبدالله یکی از دو نامزد این انتخابات، شرایطی را در این مورد اعلام کرده است. -- حامد کرزی دیروز (۲۷ جوزا/خرداد) به مینه بکتاش سردبیر دفتر بی‌بی‌سی در کابل گفت که جنجال‌های انتحاباتی در هر کشوری معمول است و این جنجال‌ها نمی‌تواند کشور را به سوی بحران ببرد. -- او گفت: "انتخابات جنجال دارد، این طبیعی است. در آمریکا هم جنجال داشت، در جاهای دیگر هم جنجال داشته، در افغانستان هم بی‌جنجال نیست و نه ما توقع آن را داریم که انتخابات ما بی‌جنجال باشد؛ چون رقابت است، برد و باخت حتما خوشی و ناخوشی دارد، اما بحران نیست." -- آقای کرزی افزود: "مملکت به راه درستی روان است. از طرف کمیسیون انتخابات، شمارش آرا و تفکیک آرای خوب و بد با شفافیت انجام می شود و ملت افغانستان آن را می‌پذیرد. نامزدی که انتخابات را باخت می‌پذیرد و نامزد برنده با دل باز به همه مردم افغانستان مراجعه می‌کند و بحران بروز نخواهد کرد." --- با این حال، ساعتی پیش عبدالله عبدالله یکی از دو نامزد دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری (۲۴ جوزا/خرداد) آقای کرزی را متهم کرد که بی‌طرفی خود را در این مرحله از انتخابات حفظ نکرده و کل نظام انتخاباتی کشور را به حمایت از نامزد رقیبش، اشرف غنی احمدزی به کار انداخته است. -- اما آقای کرزی بارها گفته که از نامزد مشخصی حمایت نمی‌کند و به عنوان رئیس جمهوری بی‌طرفی خود را حفظ می‌کند. ---- رئیس جمهوری افغانستان در بخشی از این مصاحبه احتمال بازگشت گروه القاعده به کشورش را ناممکن دانست و تاکید کرد که دیگر این گروه در افغانستان حضور ندارد. -- با اشاره به پیشرفت دولت اسلامی عراق و شام معروف به داعش در عراق، وقتی از او سوال شد که آیا ممکن است آنچه که در این کشور اتفاق افتاده، در افغانستان هم رخ دهد؟، پاسخ داد "هرگز، کاملا نه". -- او بار دیگر تاکید کرد که جنگ علیه تروریسم باید در بیرون از افغانستان صورت گیرد و کشورهای درگیر مبارزه با تروریسم در تامین صلح در افغانستان همکاری کنند. -- رئیس جمهوری افغانستان گفت: "در تامین صلح دایمی در افغانستان، مشکل برزگ ما این بوده که آوردن صلح تا امروز متاسفانه به دست مردم افغانستان نیست." -- او افزود: "نه طالبان اختیاردار آوردن صلح هستند، متاسفانه، و نه دولت افغانستان به تنهایی خود. دستهای خارجی در این جا بازی بزرگی را به راه انداخته‌اند. دستهای خارجی که بدون آنها نمی‌توان در افغانستان صلح آورد، آمریکا و پاکستان هستند." -- رئیس جمهوری افغانستان که تا چند هفته دیگر دوره کارش به پایان می‌رسد، ابراز امیدواری کرد که وضعیت کنونی دولتمردان پاکستانی را به نتیجه رسانده باشد که در تامین صلح در افغانستان همکاری کنند تا خود هم موفق به آوردن صلح در کشور خود شوند. -- آقای کرزی گفت: "تنها من که بیرون می‌روم احساس خطر نمی‌کنم، هر فرد از جامعه افغانستان که بیرون می‌رود، به انتظار انفجار بمب، حمله انتحاری و حادثه‌های ناگواری می‌باشند. به همین دلیل تاکید من بر صلح بوده است." --- رئیس جمهوری افغانستان که تا چند هفته دیگر دوره کارش به پایان می‌رسد، ابراز امیدواری کرد که وضعیت کنونی دولتمردان پاکستانی را به نتیجه رسانده باشد که در تامین صلح در افغانستان همکاری کنند تا خود هم موفق به آوردن صلح در کشور خود شوند. More,

Afghan Candidate Boycotts Count of Votes --- ."We suspend our engagement with the commission," Mr. Abdullah said, demanding the removal of the country's chief electoral officer and the creation of a neutral committee to adjudicate his fraud claims. "We are asking for the counting process to be stopped immediately." --- Yusuf Nuristani, chairman of the IEC , which organized the election and is counting the votes, said Saturday's turnout was up from 6.6 million in the first round. While turnout was largely the same or lower in much of the country, the IEC's initial tallies indicated a dramatic surge—in the areas of eastern Afghanistan that are Mr. Ghani's base. --- At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, urged the candidates and their supporters to remain patient. -- "It will be some time before we know the outcome of the vote," he said. "Premature or undocumented allegations of fraud are as dangerous as fraud itself." --- Mr. Nuristani has urged Mr. Abdullah since Saturday to bring all the evidence he has to the separate watchdog charged with adjudicating the election, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission. -- Noor Mohammad Noor, an IEC spokesman, added that vote counting would continue as planned despite Mr. Abdullah's pullout, and the preliminary results would be released on time. "The process is ongoing," Mr. Noor said. -- The IEC plans to publish the preliminary results on July 2. -- The country's electoral watchdog has several weeks to review the 568 complaints of election-day violations it received. Only after that will the commission release final results. --- Mr. Ghani's campaign team explained the high turnout in eastern Afghanistan by its successful mobilization of voters and rejected allegations of widespread fraud. -- Faizullah Zaki, a spokesman for Mr. Ghani, on Wednesday said the authority of the election bodies should be respected. "The result must be accepted by all candidates, whatever it is," he said. "This is the job of the IEC, and we should all patiently wait for them to make their announcement." --- On Wednesday, Mr. Abdullah also accused Mr. Karzai of trying to engineer the result of the vote against him. "The president of Afghanistan wasn't neutral," he said. -- Mr. Karzai's spokeswoman, Adela Raz, said the president respects both candidates and has been in contact with them. "We hope that these disagreements will be solved according to the law and what is best for the Afghan people and Afghanistan," she added. --- "With the utmost concern, the U.N. Mission notes that appeals to circumvent or abandon the legal process and framework and appeal directly to supporters could incite violence," the U.N. mission in Afghanistan said Wednesday evening. The mission "strongly urges the candidates to take all steps necessary to control their supporters to prevent them from making any irresponsible statements and from taking steps that could lead to civil disorder and instability." - More, Margherita Stancati,

یوناما: نامزدان انتخابات افغانستان مسئولانه عمل کنند --- دفتر سیاسی سازمان ملل در افغانستان یا یوناما با انتشار بیانیه‌ای از نامزدان ریاست جمهوری و طرفداران آنها خواسته تا مسئولانه رفتار کنند. -- این نهاد از هر دو نامزد و حامیان آنها خواسته که از هرگونه ابراز نظری که باعث مختل شدن راه حل سیاسی برای این کار شود، خودداری کنند. -- در بیانیه یوناما آمده: تصمیم دکتر عبدالله برای ما غیرمنتظره بود. یوناما با هردو نامزد و هر دو کمیسیون انتخابات کار خواهد کرد و برای پیش‌برد امور به آنها مشوره خواهد داد." --- یوناما گفته:"ما از پیشنهاد داکتر عبدالله برای یک کمیسیون تحت نظر سازمان ملل متحد برای نخستین بار در کنفرانس مطبوعاتی او آگاه شدیم و نیاز داریم چیزهای بیشتری در مورد آن بدانیم." -- یوناما افزوده که تلاش خواهد کرد که برای پیدا کردن راه حل سیاسی در این زمینه تلاش کند. --- آقای عبدالله امروز از کمیسیون انتخابات این کشور خواست تا فورا روند شمارش آرای دور دوم را متوقف کند. او گفت که تا زمان برآورده شدن خواسته‌هایش، با این کمیسیون همکاری نخواهد کرد. -- اما کمیسیون انتخابات گفته از نظر قانونی روند شمارش باید ادامه یابد. --- فیض‌الله ذکی، یکی از سخنگویان تیم اشرف غنی احمدزی در بیانیه‌ای کوتاه تلویزیونی درخواست آقای عبدالله برای متوقف کردن روند شمارش آرا را "غیرموجه" خواند. -- او گفت که ناظران و مشاهدان تیم آقای غنی کماکان به کار خود ادامه خواهند داد. -- آقای ذکی گفت: "ما اتهامات تقلب علیه تیم تحول و تداوم را رد می‌کنیم و آن را بی‌احترامی به دموکراسی و آرای مردم می‌دانیم." -- او گفت: "راه درست مبارزه با تخلف و تقلب درج شکایات و پی‌گیری از طریق مجاری قانونی است." --- واکنش کرزی -- عادله راز معاون سخنگوی ریاست جمهوری افغانستان نیز درباره اظهارات عبدالله عبدالله گفت که آقای کرزی به هر دو نامزد احترام دارد و از نزدیک با هر دو در تماس است. -- او افزود که اختلاف در روند انتخابات یک امر طبیعی است و ابراز امیدواری کرد که تمام اختلافات مطابق قانون و به نفع ملت و مملکت پایان یابد. - BBC

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Karzai rules out Iraq scenario in Afghanistan --- Both Iraq and Afghanistan were the target of major US-led wars, both are besieged by strong insurgencies, and both are still struggling to establish solid institutions. -- In Kabul this week, Afghans kept bringing up the dramatic developments unfolding in Iraq, where radical Islamist fighters stunned many with their lightning sweep into key cities. -- "Its a lesson to us," warned one Afghan MP. -- "Did you see how they are slaughtering Shias?" lamented a Afghan friend who is from the same sect. -- So, when we went to the heavily fortified palace to interview President Hamid Karzai about his last 12 years in power, the questions about the years to come loom even larger. -- Could what's happening in Iraq happen in Afghanistan? -- "Never. Not at all," is the Afghan leader's emphatic reply. -- Could there be sectarian strife? -- "Not at all. Not all all. We are a united country." -- What makes him so confident? -- "The Afghan people," he replies, without hesitation. --- And President Karzai dismisses any possible repeat of the dramatic collapse of Iraqi security forces in the face of an onslaught by fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). -- He hails the performance of Afghan security forces in this year's presidential elections, despite significant Taliban threats and attacks. -- But this is still a country which, despite billions of dollars in aid and years of Western training of its security forces, is still plagued by horrific violence by Taliban and other armed groups. -- Last December, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari flew into Kabul and offered some fraternal advice to the Afghan president: resolve your differences with Washington and sign the security pact (known as the Bilateral Security Agreement), which would provide for a long-term US military presence in your country. -- "I thanked him for his advice," President Karzai tells me. "But I have my views, and my information, from working in Afghanistan for more than 12 years." -- More, BBC, Lyse Doucet,

10 budget-friendly retirement spots -- A taxing decision --- When scoping out places to retire, general affordability is key. But look beyond how much it will cost to rent or buy a home or order a three-course meal. Take the matter of taxes, for example. -- Some states tax pensions and Social Security benefits. Others might tax capital gains and dividends. Some states have high property taxes or income taxes, an important consideration if you plan on an encore career in the years leading up to retirement. Taking a number of such factors into consideration, we've put together an alphabetical list of some of the best places to spend your post-career years. -- •Video: How to consolidate retirement accounts -- More, CNBC,

Amanda Knox Defense Turns to Italy's Last-Resort Court --- ROME — Amanda Knox's lawyers have formally asked Italy's court of last resort to review the U.S. student's appeals court conviction for the 2007 stabbing murder of her British roommate. -- Defense lawyer Luciano Ghirga told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the paperwork was submitted last week to the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest criminal court. -- Knox's lawyers had promised the move after a Florence appeals court in January reinstated a lower court's murder convictions of her and her Italian former boyfriend in the slaying of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, where all three were studying. The defense filed its recourse after studying the appeals court's written rationale, issued in April, for the convictions. -- Cassation judges can either uphold the convictions if they find the appeals trial was properly conducted or order yet another appellate trial. Ghirga said the Cassation Court might take up the case late this year or in early 2015. -- The January ruling against Knox included a 28-1/2-year prison sentence for her and a 25-year sentence for her ex-boyfriend and co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito. --- Knox, a University of Washington student, has been in the United States since 2011. She left Italy right after an earlier appeals court ruling overturned the initial lower court conviction that had led to her imprisonment in Italy. The American, who turns 27 next month, has vowed the she would never "willingly" return to Italy to face her fate in court. -- She has said she is hopeful Italian courts will "once again recognize" her innocence. -- In the 337-page document in which the Florence court laid out its reasons for the convictions, the presiding judge contended Knox herself delivered the fatal knife blow, writing that the American wanted to "humiliate the victim." -- Sollecito has also proclaimed his innocence. - More,

بانک مرکزی: بانک‌های افغانستان شامل لیست سیاه نمی‌شوند --- بانک مرکزی افغانستان می گوید با تصویب قانون منع پولشویی، بانک های افغانستان از تحریم مالی بین المللی رهایی می یابد. این قانون جنجالی روز شنبه گذشته از سوی ولسی جرگه تصویب شد. -- افغانستان تنها چهار روز دیگر وقت دارد تا این قانون را توشیح کند. مقام ها در بانک مرکزی از مشرانو جرگه و رئیس جمهور کرزی نیز خواستند که به زودی این قانون را تصویب و توشیح کنند. -- نورالله دلاوری، رئیس بانک مرکزی افغانستان روز چهار شنبه 28 جوزای 1393 در یک کنفرانس خبری در کابل گفت: «این یک خطر فوق العاده زیاد بود و جای شکر است. ما از ولسی جرگه و از پارلمان افغانستان سپاسگذار هستیم که این مسئولیت مهم ملی را درک کردند». -- سازمان نظارت بر پول شویی (فتا) و صندوق بین المللی پول تا تاریخ 22 جون به افغانستان وقت داده است که این قانون را تصویب کند، در غیر آن بانک های افغانستان شامل لیست سیاه خواهند شد و هیچ گونه معامله بانکی بین بانک های افغانستان و جهان صورت نخواهد گرفت. پول شویی به عملی گفته می شود که مافیا و جنایتکاران، پول غیرمشروع را به پول مشروع تبدیل می کنند.-- چین اولین کشوری بود که معاملات بانکی را با بانک های افغانستان قطع کرد. اما بانک مرکزی می گوید پس از تماس های وزارت خارجه افغانستان، حالا چین نیز بر تصمیمش تجدید نظر کرده و محدودیت های مالی را رفع نموده است. -- در هفته های اخیر شماری از بانک ها معاملات شان را با بانک های افغانستان قطع کرده بودند. آقای دلاوری گفت: «بخاطری که ما در لیست "گِرِی" یا نیمه سیاه بودیم، این باعث شد که بعضی از بانک ها در اروپا و ترکیه از ترس این که در لیست سیاه نیایند، روابط خودرا با بانک های ما قطع کردند». -- آقای دلاوری گفت تا چند روز آینده هیئتی از بانک مرکزی افغانستان به پاریس پایتخت فرانسه سفر می کند و دست آورد افغانستان در رابطه به قانون پول شویی را در اختیار نهادهای مالی جهان قرار می دهد. -- این نگرانی وجود دارد که این قانون نتواند قناعت صندوق بین المللی پول و سازمان نظارت بر پول شویی را فراهم کند، زیرا حکومت تغییرات زیادی را در متن قانون آورده و برخی از ماده های مهم آن را حذف کرده است. --- ولی آقای دلاوری گفت قانونی که تصویب شده تکمیل است و ماده هایی که از سوی حکومت برداشته شده بود دوباره به آن علاوه شده است: «شرایط بین المللی "فتا" ( سازمان نظارت بر پولشویی) در این قانون گنجانیده نشده بود. ما دوباره با کمیته اقتصادی و بودجه ولسی جرگه بحث کردیم و سه هفته با هم بحث نمودیم تا مسوده قانون تکمیل شد». -- رئیس بانک مرکزی افغانستان گفت حتا اگر این قانون توسط رئیس جمهور توشیح هم نشود، اهمیت زیادی دارد و می تواند مانع ورود بانک های افغانستان به لیست سیاه شود. -- این در حالیست که نمایندگان پارلمان افغانستان حکومت را به سهل انگاری در ارسال مسوده قانون مبارزه با پول شویی به پارلمان متهم می کنند. ولی رئیس بانک مرکزی گفت که حکومت یک سال تمام برسر این قانون کار کرد تا قانون مکملی را به پارلمان بفرستد. -- قانون مبارزه با پول شویی هنوز هم تکمیل نیست. مشرانو جرگه آن را تایید نکرده و رئیس جمهور کرزی نیز آن را توشیح نکرده است. - صدای آلمان

PRESS STATEMENT: UNAMA calls for adherence to Afghan Constitution and laws --- KABUL, 18 June 2014 – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has called for respect of the country’s Constitution and laws, as well as its independent electoral institutions, following the announcement today by a candidate in the Presidential elections that he will suspend his cooperation with the electoral process. -- “Regrettable as this step may be, we will continue to engage closely with both campaigns and the electoral commissions, consulting with them on a way forward,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš. He also recalled the code of conduct signed by both candidates where they pledged to cooperate with the electoral commissions. -- “We believe that the electoral process should continue as laid out in the laws passed by the National Assembly. In particular, the mandate of the electoral institutions – the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) – must be respected,” he added. -- “For their part, the electoral bodies have to demonstrate the highest levels of transparency and integrity and continue to proactively respond to valid candidate concerns,” Mr. Kubiš continued. “All efforts should be made to ensure that all valid votes are counted and all invalid ballots rejected – such efforts will have our full support.” -- UNAMA learned of the decision of the candidate, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, to suspend his campaign’s cooperation with the IEC and IECC at his press conference today, in addition to his suggestion for the creation of a commission under UN supervision to oversee the election process. -- With the utmost concern, the UN Mission notes that appeals to circumvent or abandon the legal process and framework and appeal directly to supporters could incite violence. Indeed, some people have already called for civil disobedience and some incidents have already taken place. -- UNAMA strongly urges the candidates to take all steps necessary to control their supporters to prevent them from making any irresponsible statements and from taking steps that could lead to civil disorder and instability. -- The UN Mission urges the candidates and their supporters to act in the national interest and reminds them of their personal and political responsibility for peace, stability and the unity of the country. - More, -

Afghan presidential election thrown into question as Abdullah disputes vote counting --- KABUL — Less than a week after Afghanistan’s presidential election, one of the two candidates is calling the government’s vote-counting process illegitimate, laying the groundwork for a protracted dispute that could destabilize the country. --- “The process of counting votes must be stopped,” Abdullah said at a news conference, suggesting that a new body, overseen by the United Nations, might be formed to administer the process. --- That seems unlikely to happen any time soon. The international community, particularly the United States, invested millions of dollars in training the IEC, and U.N. officials suggested that the commission must complete the task of addressing complaints and counting votes. -- “The announcement by Dr. Abdullah on the suspension of his cooperation in the electoral process has come as a surprise to us. We regret this step,” said Ari Gaitanis, a spokesperson for the U.N. mission. “At the same time, we'll continue to work with both campaigns and commissions, consulting on a way forward. We believe that due process should continue.” --- In addition to alleging bias by the commission, Abdullah accused the Afghan police of engaging in fraud on behalf of his opponent, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani. -- Some perceived Abdullah’s comments as a sign of desperation after a poorer-than-expected showing in Saturday’s runoff election. --- Officials from Ghani’s campaign said the electoral body must continue its work. “The commission is not a hostage to anyone,” said Abbas Noyan, a member of Ghani’s team. --- Many here worry that a contested election could devolve into violence — a concern grounded in part in the memory of the country’s brutal civil war in the 1990s. -- “If our demands are not met, there will be serious consequences,” said Fazul Rahman Oria, Abdullah’s spokesman. He did not elaborate. -- Members of the election commission said they had no intention of halting their efforts. - More, Kevin Sieff and Mohammad Sharif, Washingtonpost

Afghanistan's Abdullah calls on election officials to halt count --- (Reuters) - Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah on Wednesday demanded election organisers stop counting ballots because of widespread fraud, potentially derailing what is seen as a make-or-break vote before most foreign troops leave. -- Millions of Afghans turned out on Saturday for a second-round run-off to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, a decisive test of the country's ambitions to transfer power democratically for the first time in its tumultuous history. -- The run-off pitted former anti-Taliban fighter and opposition leader Abdullah against ex-World Bank economist and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, after neither secured the 50 percent needed to win first round outright on April 5. -- The elections have consumed Afghanistan for months and been marred by attacks by the Taliban, who call the vote a U.S. ploy. Over 50 civilians were killed in violence on Saturday and around a dozen were treated for having their fingers cut off. -- "The counting process should stop immediately and if that continues, it will have no legitimacy," he told reporters. "From now on, today, we announce that we have no confidence or trust in the election bodies." -- Afghanistan's foreign backers have long worried that complaints of fraud coupled with a close outcome could give the losing candidate ground to refuse to accept defeat, leading to a struggle for power splitting the country along ethnic lines. -- When asked how the process might be salvaged, Abdullah indicated the United Nations might be able to intervene. A spokesman said it was the first they heard of the proposal. -- "We regret this step," said spokesman Ari Gaitanis. "We will work with both campaigns and the (election) commission... we believe due process should continue." -- The Independent Election Commission said its work would continue and Ghani's team said it would remain involved. --- In one group of raw data provided to Reuters by an IEC employee, Ghani is about eight percentage points ahead, roughly equivalent to just over half a million votes. -- While true population figures may be difficult to assess, the figures help provide a loose indication of turnout. -- For instance, over 400,000 votes were cast in Khost according to one data set, not far off its estimated population of 550,000. Even if every adult and child had a voter card and used it, turnout would still have been high. --- In a second set of data provided to Reuters by Abdullah's team, Abdullah is about four percent ahead, contradicting his claims on Monday that Ghani was about a million votes ahead. His figures for Khost also suggest that turnout there was suspiciously high, with nearly 300,000 votes recorded. - More,

Edward Zellem is a U.S. Navy Captain. --- He is known for his work inside Afghanistan's Presidential Palace[1] and for authoring two bilingual collections of Afghan proverbs, "Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs" and "Afghan Proverbs Illustrated." Zellem wrote the books to "show how Afghan proverbs demonstrate our common humanity and the humanity of Afghans, and to share the proverbs' lyricism, richness and deep meanings with the rest of the world".[2] He is a member of the International Association of Paremiology (AIP-IAP), which is based in Tavira, Portugal. It is a nonprofit cultural institution dedicated to the international scientific study of proverbs, and is the only Association of its type in the world. --- Captain Edward Zellem was born in Indiana, Pa. He has served as a United States Navy officer for the past 25 years, has lived in six countries and has visited at least 50 others.[2] He can speak Dari and worked in Afghanistan, where for a year and a half he collected and used Dari proverbs every day as a hobby and learning tool.[2][4] He was a University of Virginia football player, spent time in New Zealand and Thailand, and then joined the Navy to continue to see the world.[5] - More, Wikipedia,

یک صاحب منصب امریکایی از ضرب المثلهای افغانی کتاب نوشته است --- یک صاحب منصب قوای بحری امریکا که قبلاً در افغانستان ماموریت داشته است مثل های دری و پشتو را ترجمه کرده و به نشر رسانده است. تورن ادوارد زیلیم می گوید قبل از آنکه به افغانستان برود در سال 2010 آموزش زبان های دری و پشتو را آغاز کرد. به گفته زیلیم این کتاب های وی که حاوی ضرب المثلهای افغانی می باشند اکنون در 70 کشور جهان به بازار عرضه شده اند. رادیو آزادی در همین مورد با آقای زیلیم مصاحبه انجام داده است که نکات مهم آن را از سید سمیع عباس تقدیم می کند. --- ادوارد زیلیم اظهار می دارد که نشر کتب وی کدام پروژه وزارت دفاع امریکا نبوده است. او در مورد انگیزه جمع آوری مثل های افغانی و نشر آنها هم چون کتاب چنین توضیحات داد: "من که به افغانستان رفتم، هر روز با افغان ها کار می کردم. متوجه شدم که آنها در گفتار روزمره خود بسیار مثل ها را بکار می برند. من فکر می کنم که این مثل ها بسیار دلچسپ و مفید می باشند. من بعضی از این مثل ها را جمع آوری کردم. یک دوستم برایم گفت که بهتر است این مثل ها را هم چون کتاب به چاپ برسانم. در سه سال اخیر من 15 کتاب مثل های پشتو و دری را به 15 زبان به نشر رساندم. من فکر می کنم که می توانم افغانها را درک کنم زیرا من با استفاده از این مثل ها ساعت ها با آنها صحبت می کردم. بعضی از این مثل ها به زبان انگلیسی هم وجود دارند و می توان آنها را به ساده گی آموخت. هر دو زبان یعنی دری و پشتو برای من عزیز هستند." --- طوریکه شما می دانید در عقب هر مثل یک داستان نهفته و مفهوم این مثل به داستان آن ارتباط می گیرد برای درک این قصه باید جای آن را در فرهنگ خاصی که این قصه رخداده است درک نمایید. از اینرو آقای زیلیم در مورد اینکه کی ها می توانند از کتاب های او بهتر بهره برداری نمایند چنین شرح داد: "هدف من از این کار و چاپ کتاب ها این بود که به افغان ها در خواندن و نوشتن کمک کنم. هدف دیگرم این بود که برای خارجیان در آموزش دری و پشتو کمک کرده باشم. بطور مثال کتاب مثل های من به زبان دری که بنام 151 ضرب المثل به نشر رسیده 500 نسخه آن از سوی پوهنتون کابل به کتابخانه های سیار نانسی دوپری تقسیم شده است که به تمام نقاط افغانستان خواهد رسید. این کتاب ها در مکاتب برای آموزش زبان های دری و انگلیسی استفاده می شوند و 40 هزار جلد کتاب مثل های دری در مکاتب تمام افغانستان مورد استفاده قرار دارند. این کتاب های دری و پشتو نه تنها مفاهیم مثل های افغانی را به خود مردم افغانستان می رسانند، بلکه مردم هفتاد کشور دیگر جهان هم به آن ها دسترسی دارند." -- تورن قوای بحری امریکا ادوارد زیلیم که در افغانستان کار کرده است می گوید که مردم افغانستان از این کار وی بسیار ستایش می کنند: "مثل های افغان ها هر روز با شمار زیاد از طریق تویتر در سرتاسر جهان به نشر می رسد. من از سوی افغان ها بسیار پیام های تشویق کننده بدست می آورم. تبصره های منفی بیشتر از سوی ایرانیان برایم می رسد. بعضی از ایرانی ها به من اتهام وارد می کنند که گویا من مثل های آنها را دزدیده و آنها را به دری زبانان منسوب ساخته ام. این حقیقت ندارد زیرا من خودم شخصاً این مثل ها ر از دهن مردم عام در افغانستان شنیده و شخصاً خودم این مثل ها را بکار برده ام." --- ادوارد هم چنان می گوید کتاب های دیگرش هم بزودی به چاپ می رسند و پولی که از فروش این کتاب ها بدست می آید، آنرا دوباره در پروژه های تعلیمی افغانستان بخرج می رساند: "کتاب اخیر من بنام 151 ضرب و المثل هفته گذشته به زبان پشتو از چاپ برآمد. هم اکنون این کتاب از طریق انترنت در صفحه آمازون در دسترس قرار دارد. در ظرف چند هفته این کتاب در 70 کشور جهان در دسترس مردم قرار خواهد گرفت. کتاب مثل های من به زبان دری در امریکا تا حال سه جایزه ملی را از خود ساخته است. وقتی که من کتاب مثل ها را به زبان دری چاپ کردم، بسیار مشتریان از کشور های مختلف جهان در پیام های انترنتی خود از من می پرسیدند که چه وقت کتاب پشتوی من به چاپ می رسد. از آن وقت به بعد من سال گذشته به جمع آوری مثل های پشتو آغاز کردم. این مثل ها را افغان ها از هر گوشه و کنار جهان به من فرستاده اند. تصاویر این کتاب را یک شاگرد مکتب در کابل ترسیم کرده است. به هر اندازه پولی که از درک فروش این کتاب ها بدست می آید برای تعلیم و تربیه افغان ها در داخل کشور شان به خرچ می رسد. این یک پروژه خیره و کمک رسانی می باشد." --- در مورد کتاب های مثل های دری و پشتو که توسط تورن قوای بحری امریکا ادوارد زیلین تحریر شده اند شما می توانید در ویب سایت معلومات بیشتر کسب کنید. - رادیو آزادی

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

President Obama to Consult With Congressional Leaders on Iraq --- WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama is set to discuss Iraq with congressional leaders on Wednesday amid mounting concerns over the U.S. response to rising sectarian violence in the country. --- Mr. Obama will meet at the White House with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) "as a part of his ongoing consultations with congressional leadership on foreign policy issues, including the situation in Iraq," the White House said in a statement. -- The Obama administration on Monday said up to 275 U.S. military personnel were deploying to Iraq to provide security for the U.S. embassy and other personnel in the country. Mr. Obama is still weighing possible military options as officials pressure Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to search for a political solution to the country's strife. -- Republicans have been critical of the U.S. reaction since extremist Sunni militants in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, have overrun key Iraqi cities. -- "My concern is whether we're going to do anything besides send a few extra Marines, which won't do anything," Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) told reporters Tuesday morning. He added the U.S. should send emissaries to Baghdad to "work with Maliki and tell him he's got to step down and have a coalition government." -- Earlier on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama is reviewing possible responses to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, though he declined to pinpoint any time frame for a decision and cautioned "this is not primarily a military challenge." -- "Rather than discuss timetables, I would note that the national security team is preparing options that are part of a comprehensive strategy," Mr. Carney said. "There is no military solution that will solve Iraq's problems." -- The White House has ruled out an open-ended military commitment or ground forces in Iraq. - More,

AP Interview: General says US increasing intel, surveillance on Afghanistan-Pakistan border --- WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says the U.S. has increased its surveillance over the Afghan-Pakistani border since Pakistan began pounding a militant stronghold with airstrikes, but so far officials have not seen any militants fleeing the latest offensive. -- Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford told The Associated Press in an interview that the U.S. was not coordinating military operations with Pakistan along the border, but officials have increased the amount of intelligence-sharing with the Afghans. He said the Afghan troops and U.S. forces in that region were ready for any effects of the strikes, including extremists seeking refuge in Afghanistan. -- The U.S. has long pressed Pakistan to root out Taliban militants who have found safe haven in the lawless tribal region of North Waziristan, along the Afghan border, and used it as a staging area to launch attacks against Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Dunford said officials have seen Pakistani families crossing the border to escape the military airstrikes that have pounded the country's northwest since Sunday. -- "The Afghan forces as well as our forces are fully prepared to deal with the second-order effects of the Pakistani operations in North Waziristan," Dunford said in an interview from Afghanistan. He added that officials were still trying to determine how many Pakistani families have fled into Afghanistan to escape the violence, but it was difficult because many relocate to families in the southeast and northeast. -- More broadly, Dunford expressed increased confidence in the Afghan security forces, and said he did not believe that the military collapse playing out in Iraq would occur in Afghanistan once U.S. combat troops leave. -- He said the U.S. fully expects to get a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan's government that will allow up to 14,000 U.S. and NATO troops to remain in the country next year to advise the Afghans and conduct counterterrorism missions. The U.S. left Iraq after the government in Baghdad refused to agree on a security arrangement. -- "I don't see, at least today, the divisive politics that obviously resulted in the situation in Iraq playing out here in Afghanistan," said Dunford. "We're encouraged by the fact that we will have a bilateral security agreement. I'm encouraged by the fact that we have multiethnic (presidential) tickets." -- More,

دانفورد: نظارت بر سرحدات مشترک افغانستان و پاکستان بیشتر شده است --- قوماندان قوای امریکا در افغانستان جنرال جوزف دانفورد می گوید، از آغاز عملیات هوایی قوای پاکستان بر سنگر های افراطگرایان در امتداد سرحدات، امریکا نظارت را بر سرحدات مشترک افغانستان و پاکستان بیشتر ساخته است. -- جنرال دانفورد در صحبت با خبرگزاری اسوشیتد پرس گفته است که امریکا عملیات در سرحدات را با پاکستان هماهنگ نساخته است اما مقامات آن تشریک اطلاعات استخباراتی با افغانستان را بیشتر ساخته اند. -- به گفته او قوای امریکا و افغان آماده اند که در صورت عبور افراطگرایان از آن سوی سرحد به خاک افغانستان راه آنها را بگیرند. -- اما جنرال دانفورد افزود مقامات تا حال مشاهده نکرده اند که افراطگرایان از سرحد عبور کرده باشند و در نتیجه حملات هوای پاکستان صرف خانواده ها به مهاجرت دست زده اند. -- جنرال امریکایی همچنان اظهار داشت که قوای امنیتی افغان توان آن را دارند که جلو خراب شدن حالت را بگیرند. -- در اشاره با اوضاع اخیر عراق جنرال دانفورد اظهار داشت او باور ندارد که با بیرون شدن قوای محارب امریکایی از افغانستان وضعیت عراق در این جا تکرار شود، زیرا در عراق اردو از بین رفته در حالی که در افغانستان اردو تقویه شده است. -- جنرال امریکایی گفت، امیدوار است که موافقتنامه امنیتی بین افغانستان و امریکا به زودی امضا خواهد شد که بر اساس آن تا 14هزار سرباز ناتو و امریکا بعد از سال 2014 در افغانستان خواهند ماند. -- قوای امریکا از عراق بعد از آن کاملاً خارج شدند که بغداد از امضای همینطور یک موافقتنامه با واشنگتن شانه خالی کرد. -- از بیرون شدن قوای امریکا از عراق سه سال می گذرد، ولی قوای عراق نتوانستند جلو حرکت گروه طرفدار القاعده و خشونت های فرقه ای را در این کشور بگیرند. -- اما قوماندان قوای امریکا در افغانستان اطمینان می دهد که در این کشور وضیعت عراق تکرار نخواهد شد، زیرا قوای افغان هر چند با بعضی تصمیمات رییس جمهور کرزی در مورد محدود ساختن عملیات هوایی قوای خارجی مخالفت دارند، اما از اوامر وی اطاعت می کنند. -- سناتور امریکایی از حزب جمهوری خواه جان مککین اظهار می دارد رییس جمهور اوباما همان اشتباه را که در عراق مرتکب شد، در افغانستان هم تکرار می کند. -- در پاسخ به این سوال که چگونه می توان از تکرار حالات عراق در افغانستان جلوگیری نمود، جنرال دانفورد گفت امریکا و ناتو به امضای پیمان امنیتی با افغانستان نیاز دارند تا بتوانند در تعلیم و تربیه قوای افغا ن کمک کنند و به آنها مشوره بدهند و همچنان حکومت آینده -- افغانستان باید یک حکومت قاعده وسیع باشد که از تمام اقشار جامعه افغانستان نمایندگی کند. -- در مقایسه با عراق جنرال دانفورد به یک نکته دیگر مثبت در افغانستان اشاره نمود که در صفوف رهبری طالبان افغان اختلافات ظهور کرده و به گفته او در اواخر دیده شده است که بین رهبران طالبان و افسران آنها در خط اول جنگ اختلاف ایجاد شده که به عقیده وی یکی از دلایل کاهش مورال طالبان در عملیات هم همین می باشد. - رادیو آزادی

Obama to meet Wednesday with congressional leaders about Iraq --- President Obama plans to meet with top congressional leaders Wednesday to discuss the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq. -- The White House said in a statement that it has invited the top four leaders of the House and Senate to attend the meeting. Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said their bosses plan to attend. -- Boehner's aides said in a statement that the speaker "expects the President to offer a coherent strategy to ensure that Iraq does not descend further into lawless barbarism. We spent years, vast sums of money, and – most importantly – thousands of American lives to improve Iraq’s security and make America safer. Squandering that legacy would be a tragic mistake." --- McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he's "anxious to see what plan he may have, given where we are." He added that he hoped that the current violence in Iraq might prompt Obama to reverse his decision to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan. "We know that if we don't leave behind a deployment that the military has recommended in Afghanistan of roughly 10,000 troops for counterterrorism purposes and training purposes, we are likely to see the same kind of meltdown in Afghanistan that we've seen in Iraq. So I hope the president, at least looking to the future, has learned something from this and will reverse his decision to leave Afghanistan entirely." - More, Ed O'Keefe,

Obama to Meet With Lawmakers as He Weighs Iraq Airstrikes --- President Barack Obama will meet with the four top congressional leaders tomorrow on U.S. options in Iraq, as he ponders whether to launch airstrikes against Islamic militants. -- Obama will discuss foreign policy with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic leaderNancy Pelosi at the White House. -- “I’m anxious to see what plan he might have, given where we are,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said. -- The president informed congressional leaders yesterday under the War Powers Act that he will deploy as many as 275 U.S. troops to Iraq to protect the American embassy and staff in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital. -- The troops, which are ready for combat, will remain available until security improves, according to the White House. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will remain open, although its staff has been reduced. -- In weighing airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, Obama is considering an option that could prove as inconclusive and chaotic as the war the U.S. thought had ended there in 2011. -- Unlike the strikes that preceded the Iraq and Afghanistan ground wars, any air offensive this time would come with the encouragement and support of the Iraqi government, giving the U.S. virtually complete control of the skies to curb the Sunni militants’ offensive. - More, Bloomberg,

Branding Terrorism for What It Really Is --- In his West Point speech the other week President Obama reminded the American people that terrorism is the "the most direct threat to America at home and abroad," and will be for the "foreseeable future." -- Thirteen years after 9/11 and as the American people and military recover from two enormously destructive wars analysis has hardly progressed beyond saying that violence is the problem, and never-ending war is the answer. This series of blogs will examine whether this latest pronouncement of the war on terror will serve U.S. national security interests. -- There has been considerable success in defending the homeland but it looks like we are losing the global struggle against political violence, according to the State Department's analysis. While our rhetoric has evolved a little over the past decade fundamentally our approach remains unchanged. If the terrorists' goal is to spread their version of political dissidence, sow division and spread fear it looks like they are winning. -- As Iraq drowns, Pakistan dissolves and Afghanistan descends -- places where the war on terrorism has been hottest and costs to America highest -- we cannot wait to review our methods and means. To adapt we need to appreciate and unravel the scale of the mistakes made in Afghanistan and Iraq. These were missions built on ideology, aspiration and good intention, which disastrously confused nation building and counter-insurgency with counter-terrorism. -- Going forward, the president said fighting will be outsourced to a broad range of global partners. This is good for the families of those in uniform and the nation's budget but it remains unclear how the governments of Nigeria, Mali, Kenya, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and others are really going to fair on our behalf. -- There is still too much about our approach that simply plays to the home crowd; "you're either with us or against us". It is the terrorists, not us, who want to see people divided by global "front lines" and never ending war. Clarity of purpose becomes difficult if the conflict is locally driven especially as we associate our enemy -- what the president calls the "affiliates" and "extremists" -- to a global movement that experts say became irrelevant some time ago. -- Al Qaeda might have been "decimated" yet our fear of terrorism remains a specter that haunts our way of life, hindering our Constitution and foreign policy. We still allow easy cliches, propaganda and generalizations to decide our actions and obscure a way forward. As the fight goes local, heavy-handed measures based on politics of identity among the many to fight the few who become radicalized - a process now understood by the US government in technical, largely non-political terms - will only heighten emotions and wind-up the tempo of violence. -- What do we mean when we castigate an "Islamist" in the context of the future shape of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, or for the majority of Libyans who want to see Islam as a fundamental part of their politics or the internationally-backed provisional constitution of Somalia which guarantees compliance with Shari'ah? --- Whether there are American boots on the ground or not, our approach is creating a tide of discontent that, sooner or later, will turn against us and is generating instability. My experiences from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, Kenya, Washington, D.C. and London, from working in government and for international organizations, alongside governments, Generals and Ambassadors, tells me that we continue to miss something. -- It is disturbing to see how far the divisive language of the war on terrorism has been exported globally enabling conflict and reinforcing difference. Language really matters. There are no military "front lines" or legal "franchises" because there is no army or global corporation. We need to break down the brand strength of "terrorism" that they exploit and we consume through the media, stop using language that enhances their strength and plays into their hands, and expose them for what they really are. -- As well as enabling shared knowledge and ideas, today's globalization brings us and our differences closer together. The potential for conflict is heightened when the internet exposes inconsistencies and brings the long tail of radical and violent ideas to a growing online market of disgruntled youth. We need to redouble our efforts to listen to and communicate with other cultures. -- We should recognize how the western ideas of democracy and freedom, mostly unchanged leftovers from the Cold War, often backfire and fail to resonate in today's multi-polar world, especially in the minds of alienated youth. The challenge is for us to re-position the values we are fighting for and reinvigorate the politics of US foreign policy. -- Historically, we have taken pride in knowing that ideas cannot be defeated through war. This is not about backing down where we can make a difference. But if our approach to terrorism has been flawed where we have tried hardest and even where proxy armies have been mobilized to fight our cause we must reconsider the overall agenda. -- And, if freedom and democracy are becoming unattractive dead terms in U.S. foreign policy, especially where our leadership matters most, we need to re-brand U.S. foreign policy. Many counter-terrorism measures have been successful -- albeit immensely costly -- in defending our homeland but to lead globally we need to use the politics of peace rather than the language of war. -- In this series of blogs I will look at these ideas in more detail and suggest what a different approach, together with a resurgent political and public diplomatic effort ,can do to advance US national security going forward. -- More, Matt Freear, Huffingtonpost

White House moves on funding for possible Iraq action: congressional aides --- (Reuters) - The White House is putting together a proposal to shift some money that had been designated for use in Afghanistan for possible military operations in Iraq, congressional aides said on Monday. -- As they formulate a response to the Iraq crisis, White House officials have told lawmakers they will submit this week or next a request to Congress for "Overseas Contingency Operations" funding, carving out some money for Iraq that had previously been anticipated for use in Afghanistan. -- The request would include some details on plans to spend the money, the aides told Reuters. -- President Barack Obama has said he is open to possible U.S. action in Iraq to help the Baghdad government counter an onslaught by Islamist militants. He is due to be briefed on Monday night on options prepared by his national security team. -- The current Overseas Contingency funds request included in an annual defense appropriations bill is for $79.4 billion. But that bill has been making its way through Congress without detail on how the money would be spent. -- A request to Congress for significant funding for operations in Iraq would be an indication of how serious the administration is about helping Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki repel the militants' advance that threatens to splinter the country. -- Aides said the administration was continuing consultations with lawmakers over its Iraq plans, including holding a classified briefing for members of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. -- Congressional aides said the administration was also putting together a formal notification to Congress triggered by the partial evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad that would allow increased security at the facility. -- The formal notification, as required by the War Powers Act, could involve more than plans announced on Sunday by the U.S. State Department to boost security and move some workers out of the city, aides said. -- Obama administration officials did not respond to requests for comment. - More,

عبدالله: سیال مې یو میلیون رایي مخکې دی --- د افغانستان د ولسمشرۍ کاندید عبدالله عبدالله د دوشنبې په ورځ وویل چې سیال یې په دوهم دور انتخاباتو کې تر ده یو میلیون رایي مخکې دی او دا ځکه چې پراخې درغلۍ شوې دي. --- عبدالله عبدالله په داسې حال کې د پراخو درغلیو تور پورې کوي چې د دوهم دور د انتخاباتو لپاره د اروپایي ټولنې څارونکی پلاوی وایي چې د لومړي دور د انتخاباتو په پرتله دا ځل د افغانستان د ولسمشرۍ په انتخاباتو کې لږ درغلۍ شوې دي. -- عبدالله عبدالله خبریالانو ته په کابل کې وویل، ما تل دا خبره کوله چې زما سیال تقلب دی. د شمال ایتلاف دغه پخواني مخکښ غړي د خپل سیال اشرف غني نوم وانخیست خو د ده اشاره دې ته وه چې د اشرف غني ملاتړیو درغلۍ کړې دي او په انفرادي ډول هغو کسانو درغلۍ کړې دي چې له ولسمشر کرزي سره ارتباط لري. -- په لومړي پړاو انتخاباتو کې عبدالله ۴۵٪ رایې خپلې کړې وې، چې څه باندې ۱۳٪ یې تر اشرف غني رایي ډیرې وې. هغه وخت د اشرف غني د انتخاباتي کمپاین غړیو ویل چې د دوی رایي پاکې دي او پراخې درغلۍ شوې دي. -- د هغو ابتدایي رپوټونو له مخې چې د عبدالله ډلې ترلاسه کړې دي د شنبې د ورځې له انتخاباتو له رایو داسې ښکارې چې اشرف غني نژدې یو میلیون رایي مخکې دی. -- عبدالله وویل « څرنګه کیدای شي چې د هیواد په یوه برخه کې وضعیت په ډراماتیک ډول یو دم بدل شی، خلک خپل ذهن بدل کړي، دوی ټول راووځي او رایي ورکړي» -- رسمي ابتدایي نتیجې لا نه دې اعلان شوې او د جولایي تر دوهمې به اعلان نه شي. د اشرف غني د کمپاین غړیو عبدالله ته خبرداری ورکړ چې د انتخاباتو د نتیجې له نه منلو سره به هیواد له بحران سره مخامخ شي. -- فیض الله ذکي وویل :« د ډیموکراسي له اصولو سره سم باید په انتخاباتو کې ښکیلې ډلې -- د انتخاباتو نتیجه ومني، ځکه چې رایي د خلکو امانت دي او په ډیرو سختو شرایطو کې یې رایي ورکړې دي». -- په سلګونو کسان د دوهم ځلي انتخاباتو په ورځ یا وژل شوي یا ټپیان شوې دي خو بیا هم په میلیونونو کسانو رایي ورکړې. د انتخاباتو د خپلواک کمیسیون په وینا دا ځل تر اوو میلیونو ډیرو کسانو رایي ورکړې دي. -- عبدالله د یکشنبه په ورځ ویلي وو چې په هغو سیمو کې چې پښتانه اوسي ولې ډیرې رایي خلکو ورکړې دي، ځکه چې دا د منلو نه دي. عبدالله اسرار کوي چې دا ځل د هغو ۱۲ میلیونو کسانو له ډلې چې د رایي ورکولو حق لري پنځه میلیونه رایي استعمال شوې دي. -- د انتخاباتي شکایتونو کمیسیون وایي چې د درغلیو ۵۶۰ شکایتونه تر اوسه وررسیدلې دي او دا شکایتونه به دقیق وڅیړي. -- الله د ۲۰۰۹ کال په انتخاباتو کې هم پر حامد کرزي د پراخو درغلیو تور پورې کړی و چې بیا کرزی ولسمشر شو. - تاند

Economy a bigger worry than Taliban for many Afghans --- KABUL — As Afghans wait for the results from this weekend’s presidential election, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Taliban — which failed to undermine the vote — no longer represents an existential threat to the country’s government. -- But that is of little solace to the millions of Afghans who may face a graver enemy in the government itself — a bundle of inept and corruption-plagued institutions whose actions could threaten the gains of the past decade. -- About 7 million voters turned out Saturday, a showing some Afghans read as a repudiation of the Taliban and others saw as a sign of the electorate’s desperation to reform a host of public institutions. -- The next president, who will be either former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, will inherit those institutions. On Sunday, both campaigns frantically tried to assess the election outcome, reporting dozens of cases of voting fraud to the country’s election commission. The official results won’t be released until early July. -- Neither candidate campaigned primarily on his ability to suppress the insurgency. Both found that the electorate had more pressing worries. -- “I’m not concerned about the insurgency. The security forces are capable of dealing with it,” said Yama Torabi, head of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, an Afghan watchdog organization. “But I am concerned about corruption and its impact on the economy.” -- Much of the international community still sees Afghanistan through the lens of the ongoing counterterrorism mission, targeting Taliban insurgents who move freely in parts of eastern and southern Afghanistan. The threat from the Taliban is hardly over; hundreds of Afghans continue to be killed each month. -- Many considered the elections to be a litmus test of the Taliban’s relevance. If its fighters had succeeded in their plan to disrupt the Afghan electoral process, it would have said something about the insurgents’ clout — if not their capacity to conduct attacks, then their ability to instill fear. -- Saturday’s vote was marred by hundreds of small-scale Taliban attacks, and more than 40 people were killed. But it would have taken much more than that to derail the elections. And, thanks to the growing strength of the Afghan security forces, the Taliban does not appear to have the capability to retake major urban centers. -- The other threats to Afghanistan — the fragility of its economy and institutions — stand a better chance at destabilizing the country and throwing the U.S. investment here into a tailspin. -- For example, it appears increasingly likely that the government will be financially blacklisted by next week for failing to pass an anti-money laundering law, a designation that would hinder Afghanistan’s ability to do business with much of the world. -- The Financial Action Task Force, an international regulatory body, had pledged to blacklist Afghanistan if it hadn’t made progress on a list of IMF requirements issued in 2001 to minimize the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing. Afghanistan’s central bank crafted the legislation this year, but it was watered down and then got caught up in political gridlock. -- “This law should have been approved and implemented 10 years ago, but Afghan officials were busy laundering money,” said Abbas Ibrahimzada, a parliamentarian from central Balkh province. - More, Kevin Sieff, Washingtonpost

Strokes, long on the decline among the elderly, are rising among younger adults --- Strokes in younger adults typically result from rare conditions, including tears in artery walls (called dissections) or defects in the heart that release clots. Strokes in older adults usually result when a lifetime of bad habits ravages the vascular system. But strokes, long on the decline among the elderly, appear to be rising among younger adults. -- About 10 percent of the nearly 800,000 strokes that Americans suffer each year occur in people younger than 50, according to recent studies. --- No national registry tracks strokes, leaving researchers to find trends in regional studies, hospitalization records and health surveys. But their discoveries show a troubling trend. In 2010, a study in the journal Stroke found that the stroke rate tripled in 35-to-54-year-old women between 1988 and 2004. The next year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that hospitalizations for ischemic stroke increased by more than a third in 15-to-44-year-olds in the 14-year period that ended in 2008. In 2012, a review of hospital records in the Midwest found a 44 percent jump in strokes between 1993 and 2005 among people younger than 55. The same year, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California reported an “alarming ” increase in ischemic strokes among people age 25 to 44 between 2000 and 2008. --- Special risks -- Young men and women share the same cardiovascular risks from unhealthy behaviors. But women are more prone to migraines, and they are uniquely vulnerable to pregnancy-related complications and hormones found in birth control pills, all of which increase stroke risk. - More, Health & Science,

Monday, June 16, 2014

نورستاني: د دارالانشاء پر مشر تورونه 'بابیزه' دي --- د افغانستان د ټاکنو خپلواک کمیسیون مشر احمد یوسف نورستاني په کابل کې خبریالانو ته ددغه کمیسیون د دارالانشاء پر مشر لګول شوي تورونه "بې بنسټه "وبلل. -- تېره ورځ (یکشنبې/غبرګولی ۲۵)عبدالله عبدالله د ضیاء الحق امرخېل د دندې ځنډولو غوښتنه کړې وه. -- نورستاني وویل، پر امرخېل لګول شوي تورونه باید د نړیوالو څارونکو له خوا وڅېړل شي: -- "موږ د ضیاء الحق امرخېل د دندې ځنډولو لپاره پر منطق ولاړ ثبوت نه لرو، له دې کبله دغه مساله همدلته تړو، که چېرې ډاکټر عبدالله عبدالله یا کوم بل څوک د دارالانشاء د مشر ښاغلي امرخېل د بې قانونه کړنې په تړاو کوم منطقي ثبوت لري، کمیسیون ته یې وړاندې کولی شي". -- دا موضوع وروسته تر هغه د افغانستان د ټاکنو په تړاو تر ټولو ډېره ګرمه موضوع وګرځېده، چې د ټاکنو پر ورځ د کابل امنیه قومندان جنرال ظاهر ظاهر د کابل په ختيځ سروبي ولسوالۍ کې د رای اچونې یوه مرکز ته د ټاکنیزو توکو د لېږد مخه ونیوه. -- نوموړي تور لګولی و، چې ګني ښاغلی امرخېل د یوه مشخص کاندید په ګټه درغلي کوي، خو امرخېل دا تورونه بې بنسټه وبلل. -- د ولسمشرۍ یوه نوماند عبدالله عبدالله تېره ورځ د ښاغلي امرخېل د دندې ځنډولو غوښتنه کړې وه، خو نن د ټاکنو کمیسیون مشر پر امرخېل لګول شوي تورونه بې اساسه وبلل. -- د افغانستان د ټاکنیزو شکایتونو ارزونې کمیسیون هم ویلي، د ښاغلي امرخېل او ښاغلي ظاهر د قضیې لپاره د یوه حقیقت موندونکي پلاوي په تمه دي. -- خو د ټاکنو خپلواک کمیسیون مشر وویل: "ښه پوی شئ چې زه زه دا تور له بنسټه ردوم". -- د ټاکنو خپلواک کمیسیون مشر وویل، کمیسیون له پولیسو د رای ورکولو هغو مرکزونو ته د حساسو ټاکنیزو توکو د لېږد ملګرتیا وکړي، چې وړاندې لږ مواد وروړل شوي وو، خو هغه مهال هېڅ پولیس نه ترسترګو کېدل. -- ښاغلی نورستاني وايي، په سروبي ولسوالۍ کې خلکو د رای پاڼو د کمښت له کبله مظاهرې وکړې او دا مساله باید حل شوې وای. -- دی وايي، د دارالانشاء مشر پرځايي وخت ماسپښین دوه بجې وروسته تر هغه سیمې ته تللی و، چې ټاکنیز توکي د پولیسو له خوا درول شوي وو. -- ضیاء الحق امرخېل نن یوې خبري ناستې ته وویل، چې د پولیسو کړنه د ده لپاره یوه "دسیسه" وه. -- د ټاکنو خپلواک کمیسیون مشر وايي، د پایلو بسته بندۍ او شمېرنې لپاره یې نن یو مرکز پرانیستی، او اټکل یې دا دی چې لومړنۍ او وروستۍ پایلې پر ټاکل شویو نېټو اعلان شي. -- پر همدې مهال د شکایتونو ارزونې کمیسیون ویلي، چې د نن (دوشنبې) شپې تر ناوخته پورې د دویم پړاو ټاکنو په تړاو د شکایتونو وخت ختمېدونکی دی. -- د دغه کمیسیون ویاند نادر محسني رسنیو ته وویل، د ټاکنو له ورځې دوی ته تر اوسه ۵۶۸ شکایتونه رسېدلي، چې ۱۴۱ یې د ټاکنو د خپلواک کمیسیون د کارکوونکو په اړه - BBC,

Pakistan and Afghanistan discuss security amid strikes --- The Pakistani and Afghan leaders have discussed regional security amid air strikes against militants in Pakistan's north-west tribal areas. --- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai held talks by phone, on the second day of Pakistani air raids in North Waziristan. -- The army said about 170 militants have been killed in the offensive, and at least six soldiers have died. -- It comes days after a deadly attack on Karachi airport claimed by the Taliban. -- Pakistan has asked Afghanistan to help seal potential militant escape routes across the porous border into Afghanistan, the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad reports. -- Pakistan has been fighting an Islamist insurgency for more than a decade, with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) the main militant grouping. -- Speaking earlier on Monday, Mr Sharif told parliament the air strikes were necessary because "the enemy has left us no choice". -- "We will no longer allow Pakistan to be a sanctuary for terrorism at any cost," he said. -- "The world knows that on the one hand we were engaged in dialogue with these people and on the other hand our children, women and youth were being bathed in blood. -- "It is a matter of sorrow and pain that after four-and-a-half months of talks, we could not make a breakthrough for peace," he added. -- The government had begun peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban earlier this year, but there was little progress. - BBC,

Afghan Candidate Alleges Voting Fraud by Karzai and Aides --- KABUL, Afghanistan — Less than 48 hours after a runoff election to choose the next president of Afghanistan, the first signs of a looming political crisis emerged on Monday, with the campaign of Abdullah Abdullah claiming there had been widespread ballot stuffing and suggesting he was being set up for a defeat he would not accept. -- A senior campaign official for Mr. Abdullah, who won the most votes in the election’s first round, said the candidate believes President Hamid Karzai and a coterie of advisers around him orchestrated the fraud. The aim, in the estimation of the Abdullah campaign, was either to install Ashraf Ghani, the other candidate for president, or to see Mr. Karzai use a postelection crisis as an excuse to extend his own term in office. -- “Karzai is quite happy everything is tied up,” said the official, who spoke anonymously because the campaign was still collecting evidence of fraud. “They have engineered it in a way that goes far beyond the normal. It’s industrial-scale fraud.” -- The official, who is familiar with Mr. Abdullah’s thinking, questioned the neutrality of electoral officials and the courts, saying the candidate had no expectation that complaints would be addressed. Campaign officials also accused Mr. Ghani of being complicit in fraud. --- Mr. Karzai’s office scoffed at the accusations coming out of the Abdullah campaign. “The accusation is absolutely baseless and wrong,” said Adela Raz, a spokeswoman for the president. --- The campaign of Mr. Ghani, a former finance minister, said it would accept the official final result. But his campaign officials complained of fraud and violence on the part of Mr. Abdullah’s supporters, and accused Mr. Abdullah himself of violating campaign laws and stoking a crisis. -- “If Dr. Abdullah is not announced as unconditional winner, then the country might be led toward a crisis — that is what they have been saying,” said Faizullah Zaki, a spokesman for Mr. Ghani, at a news conference on Monday. “We believe such statements are a serious violation of the Constitution, electoral laws and the fundamental rule of election.” -- e hard line from the Abdullah campaign, before all the ballots were even counted or any evidence of fraud publicly disclosed, propelled concerns that Afghanistan was headed for a political showdown at a crucial and delicate moment in a country with a history of civil strife. --- The number of American-led troops here is shrinking fast, and foreign forces have already stepped back from a front-line role, leaving Afghanistan’s improving but still unsteady security forces to take on the Taliban. At the same time, American and European officials have made an acceptably clean election here a prerequisite for the delivery of billions of dollars of annual aid to Afghanistan. -- After years of watching corruption flourish and listening to Mr. Karzai berate the West for not bringing peace to Afghanistan, the country’s leaders “haven’t got that many shots left in the magazine, I’m afraid,” said a Western diplomat ahead of the vote, which took place on Saturday. -- “In terms of a stock of good will, the stock has been significantly diminished,” the diplomat added. --- Abdullah campaign officials offered a variety of unverified numbers to support their case, pointing to insecure provinces in the east where, they said, voter turnout far exceeded the number of registered voters. -- Another drama that has consumed Kabul in the aftermath of the vote is an allegation that a top election official was caught with a truckload of blank ballots, driving them to an insecure area on the outskirts of Kabul without the mandatory police escort. -- Mr. Abdullah has publicly called for the removal of the official, Zia ul-Haq Amerkhel. The election commission has denied the allegations. - More, NYTimes

U.S. Is Exploring Talks With Iran on Crisis in Iraq --- WASHINGTON — A senior American diplomat met with his Iranian counterpart in Vienna on Monday to explore whether the United States and Iran could work together to create a more stable Iraqi government and ease the threat from Sunni militants. -- The initial meeting took place after Secretary of State John Kerry signaled that the Obama administration was open to cooperating with Iran on Iraq, raising the possibility of seeking help from a country that the United States has often described as a state sponsor of terrorism that must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon. -- The incentive for the United States is clear. Iran also has the ability to frustrate the Obama administration’s strategy of pressuring Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and his Shiite-dominated government to reach out to Sunnis and Kurds. President Obama made clear last week that no American unless that effort was made. -- The meetings would also provide an opportunity for American officials to compare notes with Iran over the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which last week made startling military gains, routing the Iraqi Army and even threatening Baghdad. -- Mr. Kerry said in an interview with Yahoo! News on Monday morning that the United States was “open to discussions if there’s something constructive that can be contributed by Iran.” -- “I think we need to go step by step and see what, in fact, might be a reality, but I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive,” he said. -- In Vienna, the senior American diplomat, Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, briefly raised Iraq on the margins of previously scheduled negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. American officials did not say when the next meeting would take place. -- A State Department official said the purpose of the “engagements” with Iran and other neighbors of Iraq would be to discuss the threat posed by Sunni militants and “the need to support inclusivity in Iraq and refrain from pressing a sectarian agenda.” - More, NYTimes

نورستانی تعلیق کار رئیس دارالانشای کمیسیون انتخابات را رد کرد --- کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان اتهام های عبدالله عبدالله بر رئیس دارالانشای این کمیسیون را رد کرده و از سیاستمداران خواسته است که در صدد ایجاد بحران نباشند. او اطمینان داده که به تقلب ها رسیدگی می شود. --- عبدالله عبدالله، نامزد دور دوم انتخابات افغانستان، گفته است که کار ضیاالحق امرخیل، رئیس دارالانشای کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات باید به تعلیق درآورده شود. امرخیل از سوی قومندان پولیس کابل به تلاش برای تقلب به نفع یکی از نامزدان در روز انتخابات متهم شده است. -- احمد یوسف نورستانی، رئیس کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات روز دوشنبه (۲۶ جوزا/ ۱۶ جون) در یک کنفرانس خبری در کابل گفت که سند موجه برای برکناری امرخیل وجود ندارد. --- نورستانی گفت: «مردم افغانستان بحران را زیاد دیدند. از ایجاد بحران خسته شده اند. امیدوار هستم که هیچ کس در صدد ایجاد بحران نباشد. این جا باید خوشحالی، آبادی، رفا و آرامی را بیاورند و این بخشی از برنامه شان باید باشد.» --- جنجال در روز انتخابات زمانی شروع شد که محمد ظاهر ظاهر، قومندان پولیس کابل گفت دو موتر حامل مواد انتخاباتی را متوقف کرده که بدون هماهنگی پولیس این مواد را انتقال می دادند. اما امیرخیل در همان روز گفت که این مواد به مراکزی در ولسوالی سروبی کابل فرستاده شده بود زیرا در آنجا برگه های رای دهی کمبود گردیده بود. --- عبدالله شب دو شنبه گفت: «ما از همین لحظه اعلام می کنیم که جز به تعلیق در آمدن وظیفه رئیس دارالانشای کمیسیون انتخابات ما قناعت نمی کنیم.» -- اما رئیس کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات این قضیه را یک سوء تفاهم عنوان کرد: «یک سوء تفاهم بود که بین پولیس و کارمندان ما واقع شد. امیدوار هستیم که یک هیات بی طرف تعیین شود و به عمق این مساله برسد، تحقیق کند و به این مساله نقطه پایان دهد.» --- عکس العمل تیم اشرف غنی احمدزی -- تیم انتخاباتی اشرف غنی احمدزی نیز در مورد اظهارات داکتر عبدالله عکس العمل نشان داد. این تیم از آقای عبدالله خواست تا مشروعیت انتخاباتی را که میلیون ها افغان در آن شرکت کردند و رای دادند، زیر سوال نبرد. -- فیض الله ذکی از سخنگویان تیم انتخاباتی داکتر اشرف غنی احمدزی در یک کنفرانس خبری گفت: «این گونه اظهارات در مغایرت کامل با قانون اساسی، قوانین انتخاباتی و اصل بنیادین انتخابات و دموکراسی قرار دارد. اصل دموکراسی این است که نتایج انتخابات باید توسط همه اشتراک کنندگان قبول شود.» -- ذکی گفت نامزدان ریاست جمهوری نباید پیام یاس و بحران آفرینی را به مردم افغانستان و جهانیان بفرستد. او گفت مردم افغانستان با خطر جان به پای صندوق های رای رفتند و اراده مردم نباید زیر سوال برود. -- در همین حال کمیسیون شکایات انتخاباتی گفته است در صورتی که ادعای تقلب توسط آقای امرخیل جنبه تخطی انتخاباتی داشته باشد، توسط این کمیسیون رسیدگی می شود. -- این کمیسیون می گوید تاکنون ۵۶۸ مورد شکایت از سراسر افغانستان ثبت شده و قرار است ثبت شکایت ها تا ساعت ۱۲ بجه شب به پایان برسد. -- صدای آلمان

Abdullah says fraud gave his rival a million vote lead in Afghan vote --- (Reuters) - Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said on Monday his opponent's apparent million-vote lead in the second round of national elections at the weekend was due to massive fraud. -- Observers fear allegations of fraud on both sides could lead to a lengthy and paralysing struggle for power along ethnic lines, threatening to derail attempts to transfer power democratically for the first time in Afghanistan's history. -- "I have always maintained that the main rival is fraud," Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban resistance fighter, told reporters. -- Abdullah did not name his rival Ashraf Ghani in his accusation, but his camp suggested Ghani's supporters were involved, as well as individuals connected to current President Hamid Karzai. --- Based on initial reports received by Abdullah's staff, results from Saturday's vote put Ghani in the lead by close to a million votes. -- Official preliminary results are not due out until July 2. --- Ghani's camp warned Abdullah against pushing the country into a crisis by refusing to accept the legitimacy of the vote. -- "The basics of democracy is that all participants have to accept the result of elections. Voting is the people's right and they paid a big price to achieve it," said a spokesman, Faizullah Zaki. -- Hundreds of people were killed or wounded in election day attacks by the Taliban insurgency. But millions of Afghans were undeterred by the attempt to derail the vote and turnout was estimated by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) at more than seven million, in line with numbers in the first round. -- Abdullah questioned the IEC's figures, putting the turnout at more like five million out of an estimated 12 million eligible voters. - More,

Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan --- Kabul, Afghanistan, 14 June 2014 – In spite of serious security threats, voters were not deterred from casting their ballots in the Presidential Election run-off, held in Afghanistan today. While final figures are yet to be ascertained, preliminary indicators suggest a turnout of more than 7 million voters. -- In accord with the electoral timeline, the IEC will announce preliminary election results on 2 July; and final results on 22 July. More, --

Pakistan Launches Offensive Against Militants Near Afghan Border --- ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Pakistani army Sunday launched a long-awaited operation against foreign and local militants in a tribal region near the Afghan border, hours after jets pounded insurgent hideouts in the country's northwest, the army said. -- The move effectively ends the government's policy of trying to negotiate with Pakistani Taliban militants instead of using force to end the years of fighting that has killed tens of thousands of civilians and security forces. It comes a week after the militants laid siege to the country's largest airport in an attack that shocked the country. -- The North Waziristan tribal area, where the operation is targeted, is one of the last areas in the tribal regions where the military has not launched a large operation. Militant groups including the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida and the Haqqani network have long used the region as a base from which to attack both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. -- "Using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan," military spokesman Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a press release announcing the operation. --- The U.S. has pushed Pakistan to clear out militants in North Waziristan because they often use it as a sanctuary from which to attack NATO and Afghan troops. But Pakistan has said its troops were already too spread out across the northwest, and the military has also wanted political support from the civilian government to carry out an operation which will likely spark a bloody backlash across the country. -- On Sunday night, the defense minister aggressively supported the operation, but there were no comments from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. - More,

'Mission Accomplished' Reversed: Iraq Is the New Afghanistan --- Syria has become the new Afghanistan -- a center of attraction and a training ground for the next generation of jihadist fighters who will be able to make use elsewhere of the fighting experience they get there. And now the same thing has happened in Iraq. ISIS cleverly used the porous borders with Syria to draw jihadists initially recruited for Syria into the neighboring country. -- ISIS can thus create the reign it so desires over an extensive territory comprising parts of Syria and northern Iraq. Since the Americans destroyed the Afghan symbiosis between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, no terror group has achieved anything like this. And it will draw more Islamist radicals from around the world who will either join ISIS or donate money. From that point of view, the Mosul victory was a successful PR coup. --- Read the full article: Iraq And Obama's "Mission Accomplished" Moment - More, Clemens Wergin, Huffingtonpost

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Al Qaeda a big threat to Afghanistan and the region: UN --- Al-Qaeda fighters and supporters are a big threat to peace and stability of Afghanistan and it will affect the region soon. -- Al Qaeda affiliates from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Uzbekistan are participating regularly in attacks on Afghan military forces and pose “a direct terrorist challenge” for Afghanistan, south and central Asia and the global community, UN experts said in a new report. -- Fighters from several Al Qaeda linked groups in Pakistan “are regularly encountered by the Afghan forces in eastern and – to a lesser extent – in southern Afghanistan,” the experts said. -- “In northern Afghanistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan continues to gather strength among local Afghans of Uzbek origin and continues to operate in several provinces including Faryab and Sar-e-Pul.” -- The Al Qaeda linked groups “therefore present a worrying, long-term security threat” spreading from Afghanistan into the region and beyond, especially for south and central Asia which have already faced terrorist violence from individuals or groups that have trained or planned attacks in Afghanistan. -- Report also says that, some hardliner elements from China’s Xinjiang province which are in close contact with Al-Qaida related groups are also active in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan which is in the border with Pakistan, China and Tajikistan. -- In another development the mastermind of the Karachi airport attack, Abu Abdul Rehman al Maani was killed during the overnight air strikes carried out by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets and the Pakistan Army jointly in North Waziristan early morning Sunday, military sources said. - More,

Afghan presidential candidates both say they're leading --- (Reuters) - Rival camps in Afghanistan's presidential race each proclaimed to be leading the contest on Sunday, a day after the run-off was held and as officials were still tallying the hundreds killed or injured in election-related violence. -- Observers and other officials in Kabul are worried that both candidates are setting the stage to complain about fraud and refuse to accept defeat should the outcome of the vote be close. --- The United Nations on Sunday urged the candidates, former Northern Alliance leader Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, to honour the election procedures, in the tallying of votes. -- "The Secretary-General encourages the candidates and their supporters to respect the electoral process," the U.N. said in a statement. --- On Sunday night, Abdullah said he was concerned about "engineered fraud" in the elections and questioned the voter turnout figures of over seven million released by the election commission. -- "People participated in the second round but the turnout in no way was as much as released by the election commission given the security situation," said Abdullah at a news conference. -- "Our observers were beaten and sent to jail. They were not given sheets to file complaints. We will not accept the announced turnout if it is not documented and substantiated." -- He, however, claimed his party was still in a better situation than his opponent. --- Both candidates appeared to set the stage for refusing to accept defeat in an election, likely marred by fraud, when the final results are announced at the end of July. -- Ghani didn't comment on Sunday but his team said after the elections that he was the clear winner. -- "The result is already very clear to everyone because Dr. Ashraf Ghani's observers were monitoring and at the same time were asking people's opinion," said a member of the Ghani team, former candidate Daud Sultanzoy. -- Abdullah's camp has been equally categorical about the outcome, referring to their near 14 point lead in the first round. --- Meanwhile, the election complaints commission said it had received 274 complaints of fraud so far, including 29 against its staff. Complaints can be lodged up to 48 hours after the vote closed at 4pm on Saturday. - More,

ضیاالحق امرخیل اتهامات تقلب علیه خود را رد کرد --- پس از آنکه رئیس دارالانشاء کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات از سوی قوماندان امنیه کابل متهم به تقلب در روز انتخابات شد، اکنون این مقام کمیسیون انتخابات از حکومت می خواهد که این قضیه را به گونه جدی پیگیری کند. -- ضیاالحق امرخیل رئیس دارالانشاء کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان روز یکشنبه در صحبت با رادیو آزادی اتهامات علیه خودش را رد کرده و آن را توطئه شخصی قوماندان امنیه کابل می خواند: -- " تحقیقات باید صورت بگیرید که قوماندان امنیه چرا اینکار را کرد و در پشت اش کی است و او چرا اینکار را به بد نامی کمیسیون یا شخص خود وی می کرد و هم چنان یک توطئه علیه کمیسیون یا وی بوده است و باید نظام افغانستان این مساله را جدی پیگیری کند و همچنان محروم کردن هزار ها رای دهنده در چند مناطق موضوعی است که باید جواب بدهد." -- آقای امرخیل، جنرال ظاهر قوماندان امنیه کابل را به سوء استفاده از صلاحیت وظیفوی و یونیفورم پولیس متهم کرد و گفت، این مداخله وی هنگام انتقال مواد حساس انتخابات سبب شد که در برخی مناطق مردم از رای دادن محروم شوند. -- در همین حال شماری از باشنده گان ولسوالی سروبی کابل روز شنبه دست به مظاهره زده و گفتند کسانیکه مانع انتقال مواد انتخاباتی به این ولسوالی شده اند، باید شناسایی و مجازات شوند. -- پولیس کابل در روز انتخابات حوالی ساعت 2 بجه بعد از ظهر در ناحیه نهم کابل یک موتر که حامل مواد حساس انتخابات بود و گفته می شود به دستور ضیاالحق امرخیل رئیس دارالانشاء کمیسیون انتخابات قرار بود به ولسوالی سروبی کابل انتقال داده شود متوقف ساخت. -- قوماندان امنیه کابل روز شنبه گفت که آقای امرخیل می خواست با انتقال این مواد به نفع یک نامزد مشخص تقلب کند. -- پس از اینکه رئیس دارالانشاء کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات از سوی پولیس کابل متهم به تقلب شد وزیر داخله افغانستان ناوقت روز شنبه در یک نشست خبری در کابل این موضوع را سوء تفاهم میان این دو مقام خواند. --- محمد عمر داوودزی گفت که به خاطر بررسی این موضوع یک هیات مشترک را تعیین می کنند. -- در این میان جنرال ظاهر ظاهر قوماندان امنیه کابل روز یکشنبه در صحبت با رادیو آزادی گفت که وی اسناد و فلم های مستند از جریان تقلب رئیس دارالانشاء کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات را در اختیار دارد: -- " جرم او است مستند است قدم به قدم هر کاری را که انجام داده اسناد موجود است یعنی تمام اسناد در نزد من است. قضیه ایجاب این را می کند که هیات تعیین شود و بیاید پرسان کند هم از من پرسان کند و از او پرسان کند. چرا که تمام اسناد ورق به ورق، نقطه به نقطه و فلم در نزد من است ایجاب می کند که یک هیات به خاموشی این را تعقیب بکند باز دیده شود که نتیجه تعقیب هر چی بود مطابق آن عمل شود." -- آقای ظاهر گفت، این مقام کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات بدون اطلاع پولیس خواسته مواد حساس این کمیسیون را انتقال دهد که اینکار وی خلاف قانون است و باید این فرد مورد تحقیق قرار گیرید. --- رئیس دارالانشاء کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات در حالی از سوی پولیس کابل متهم به تقلب شده است که احمد یوسف نورستانی رئیس این کمیسیون گفت که پولیس در تقلب دور دوم انتخابات دست داشته است. -- در این حال مشرانو جرگه افغانستان هم چنان از حکومت می خواهد افرادیکه در کمیسیون انتخابات و یا سایر مقامات حکومتی در انتخابات دست به تقلب زده اند به پنجه قانون سپرده شوند. - رادیو آزادی

Airstrikes kill about 100 militants in Pakistan --- Pakistani jets pound militants in North Waziristan in the second strike since Karachi airport seizure --- Pakistani military jets pounded militant hideouts in the northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan early Sunday morning, officials said, killing as many as 100 militants in the second strike on the region since a deadly attack on the Karachi airport a week ago. -- Pakistani Air Force jets targeted eight militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal area, two intelligence officials said. -- Many of the dead were believed to be Uzbeks and other foreign fighters, they said. - More, Telegraph

Afghan election workers killed in roadside bomb --- Eleven people, including election workers, have been killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb that blew up their bus, according to the governor of the northern province of Samangan. -- The blast came on Saturday evening after polls closed in a second-round runoff vote to elect a president to succeed Hamid Karzai, in what is hoped will mark the country's first democratic transfer of power. -- "Three local IEC workers and two observers from Dr Abdullah's team were among them," Samangan's governor, Khairullah Anosh, told Reuters, referring to the Independent Election Commission and candidate Abdullah Abdullah. -- The election pits Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban Northern Alliance leader who served for a period as foreign minister under Karzai, against ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister. Whoever wins will take over as most foreign troops withdraw, leaving behind a potent Taliban insurgency and a growing economic crisis. -- The 11 people killed in the bus brought the number of civilian deaths on election day to at least 31, according to a Reuters tally. Another 11 people had their ink-stained fingers chopped off by the Taliban as punishment for voting. Voters had to dip a finger in a pot of ink to prevent them voting twice. -- As well the civilians killed on Saturday, 11 police officers and 15 soldiers were killed in clashes. -- The Taliban, fighting to expel foreign forces and a government they call a US puppet, have denounced the election as a US ploy and they vowed to derail it. --- Both candidates support a security pact with the US, which is expected to result in a contingent of about 10,000 American troops remaining in Afghanistan after the bulk of foreign forces withdraw by the end of the year. -- Despite the bloodshed, millions of Afghans turned out out to vote in the runoff and the electoral commission said more than 7m ballots had been cast, a similar turnout as in the first round in April. -- Observers and other officials in Kabul are worried a close outcome in a fraud-ridden process could make it difficult to persuade the losing candidate to accept defeat. -- Late on Saturday, both appeared to have started setting the stage for complaints, as Abdullah questioned the commission's turnout figures while Ghani said he appeared to have won, based on his estimates. -- Preliminary results of the vote are due to be announced on 2 July. - More, Guardian

The Opinion-Makers: How Russia Is Winning the Propaganda War --- With the help of news services like RT and Ruptly, the Kremlin is seeking to reshape the way the world thinks about Russia. And it has been highly successful: Vladimir Putin has won the propaganda war over Ukraine and the West is divided. - More, SPIEGEL Staff,

Interview with UN Peace Envoy Brahimi: 'Syria Will Become Another Somalia' --- For almost two years, Lakhdar Brahimi sought to bring peace to Syria. But in May, the United Nations special envoy stepped down. He speaks with SPIEGEL about the stubbornness of Syrian President Assad, the mistakes of the West and the dangers presented by Islamic radicals. -- More,

هرات: افراد مسلح انگشتان دست 11 تن را بخاطر شرکت در انتخابات قطع کردند --- افراد مسلح ناشناس در ولسوالی کشک رباط سنگی ولایت هرات انگشتان یازده تن از رای دهنده گان را به جرم شرکت در انتخابات بیست و چهار جوزا قطع کرده اند. این افراد زمانیکه از محل رای دهی به وسیله یک عراده موتر سراچه به سوی خانه های شان در حرکت بودند به چنگ طالبان مسلح افتیدند. بیشتر این افراد محاسن سفیدان هستند ولی در میان آنان سه تن از ملا امامان مساجد این ولسوالی نیز شامل اند. -- عبدالخالق مرد 65 ساله از جمله افرادی است که انگشت آن از سوی مخالفان دولت بریده شده و حالا سخت نگران وضعیت زنده گی خود می باشد. این مرد حالا به جای رنگ های روی انگشت خود پارچه های سفید رنگی را می بیند که با مواد ضد درد آلوده شده و اطراف انگشت بریده شده آن را پوشانیده است. او می گوید، مخالفان مسلح چشمان او و دیگر همراهانش را بسته کرده و توسط یک قصاب به وسیله چاقو این عمل را انجام داده اند. -- سلطان احمد خطیب مسجد جامع کشک رباط سنگی از جمله افراد دیگر است که به این وضعیت دچار شده است. او می گوید، مخالفان مسلح دولت در این ولسوالی اشتراک در پروسه انتخابات را حرام و کمک به نیرو های خارجی توصیف می کنند. یکی دیگر از این افراد الله بخشِ 25 ساله است که در گوشه و کنار اطاق های شفاخانه می چرخد و به ادامه زنده گی سخت ناامید شده است. الله بخش از دولت افغانستان می خواهد تا عاملان این قضیه را بازداشت و آنان را به اشد مجازات محکوم کند تا این موضوع درس عبرت به دیگران باشد. -- سمیع الله قطره قوماندان امنیه ولایت هرات این عمل را وحشیانه توصیف کرده اطمینان داد که نیرو های امنیتی تلاش خواهند کرد تا عاملین این حادثه را بازداشت کنند. با آنکه قوماندان امنیه هرات طالبان مسلح را عامل اصلی این رویداد معرفی می کند، اما تا اکنون کدام فرد و یا هم گروهی مسوولیت این حادثه را بدوش نگرفته است. داستان این حادثه تنها به حرف های دردناک این سه تن خاتمه نمی یابد بلکه به مانند این ها کسانی دیگر نیز هستند که نبود انگشتان شان توانایی سخن زدن را از آنان گرفته است. -- گرچه در بیست چهارم جوزا دست کم پانزده تن به اثر انفجار ماین های تبیعه شده و پرتاب یک راکت در نقاط مختلف ولایت هرات کشته شدند، ولی قطع انگشتان این افراد به خاطرشرکت در انتخابات در این ولایت بی سابقه بوده است. ولسوالی کشک رباط سنگی جای که این رویداد در آن اتفاق افتاده در فاصله تقریبا شصت کیلومتری شمال شهر هرات موقعیت داشته و یکی از مناطق ناامن در این ولایت به حساب می آید. - رادیو آزادی

Kerry says U.S. help will only work if Iraqi leaders unite --- (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said U.S. assistance to Iraq, which is seeking to repel a stunning militant advance, would only work if Iraqi leaders overcame deep divisions, the State Department said on Saturday. -- Kerry spoke with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in a call on Saturday, the State Department said in a statement. -- "He emphasized to the Foreign Minister that assistance from the United States would only be successful if Iraqi leaders were willing to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to forge the national unity necessary to move the country forward and confront the threat of ISIL," the statement said, referring to the Islamist militants who have taken over several important Iraqi cities. -- Kerry also urged Iraq to quickly ratify the results of its April 30 parliamentary elections and to form a new government without the long period of wrangling that followed 2010 elections. -- The advance by Sunni militants from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, toward the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, appeared to be slowing on Saturday, but a grave threat remains to the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. -- U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday he was reviewing military options, short of sending troops, to help Maliki fight an insurgency that has been strengthened by the war in neighboring Syria. -- The United States ordered an aircraft carrier moved into the Gulf on Saturday, raising expectations of new U.S. assistance in addition to the weapons sales and limited training the United States has provided Iraq since it withdrew troops in 2011. -- But U.S. officials are reluctant to provide major new assistance without assurances that politicians from Iraq's Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurd communities can overcome long-standing divisions. - More,

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Iran says envisages Iraq role with U.S .if Washington tackles regional militants --- (Reuters) - Iran could contemplate cooperating with its old adversary the United States on restoring security to Iraq if it saw Washington confronting "terrorist groups in Iraq and elsewhere", Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday. -- Rouhani, a pragmatist who has presided over a thaw in Iran's relations with the West, also said Tehran was unlikely to send forces to Iraq but stood ready to provide help within the framework of international law. Baghdad has not requested such assistance, he added. -- Shi'ite Muslim Iran has been alarmed by the seizure this week of several major northern Iraqi towns by Sunni Islamist insurgent forces and their sweep southward to within an hour's drive of Baghdad, and not far from the Iranian border."We all should practically and verbally confront terrorist groups," Rouhani told a news conference broadcast live on state television. -- Asked if Tehran would work with Washington in tackling the advances by Sunni insurgents in Iraq, he replied: "We can think about it if we see America starts confronting the terrorist groups in Iraq or elsewhere." -- Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are bent on recreating a mediaeval caliphate spanning territory they have carved out in fragmenting Iraq and Syria, where it has exploited a power vacuum in the midst of civil war.A senior Iranian official told Reuters earlier this week that Tehran, which has strong leverage in Shi'ite-majority Iraq, may be ready to cooperate with Washington in helping Baghdad fight back against the jihadist ISIL rebels. -- The official said the idea of cooperating with the Americans was being discussed within the Tehran leadership. For now, according to Iranian media, Iran will send advisers and weaponry, although probably not troops, to boost Baghdad. - More,

Afghan voters want security, jobs above all --- KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan voters were divided over which candidate to support in Saturday’s presidential runoff, but they broadly agreed on what they were looking for in their new leader after decades of war — security and jobs. --- In their own voices: - “I hope the new president will build roads for our village,” said Gulam Sakhi, a construction worker who lined up with more than 300 other voters to cast ballots at a mosque in Kabul. --- “I want a good president for Afghanistan, our country is suffering. We want stable security and a better economy,” said Humira Zarifi, a student in Kabul. “I hope the next president signs the bilateral security agreement, Afghanistan needs it.” --- “I saw these elections an opportunity to show the Taliban and the government that we are no longer scared to cast our vote and make our say matter,” said Matiaullah Jan, a car salesman in Kandahar. --- “Security is the first priority for the Afghan people. I’m tired of the suicide attacks and explosions every day,” said Abbas Razaye, a shopkeeper in Kabul. --- “Afghanistan is suffering most because of the security and a bad economy,” said Gul Makay after voting in Kabul. - The Associated Press

.نورستاني: په ټاکنو کې د گډون کچه ډېره لوړه وه --- د افغانستان د ټاکنو د خپلواک کميسيون مشر احمد يوسف نورستاني وايي د ولسمشريزو ټاکڼو په دويم پړاو کې د خلکو د گډون کچه څه د پاسه اوو ميليونو ته رسېده. ښاغلي نورستاني چې دغه څرگندونې له امنيتي چارواکو سره په يوه گډه خبرې ناسته کې وکړې وويل دا شمېره د تمو په خلاف ډېر لوړه ده. -- د افغانستان د ولسمشريزو ټاکنو دويم پړاو د تاوتريخوالي له يو لړ پېښو سره هم مل و چې د امنيتي چارواکو په وينا له امله يې لسگونه کسان وژل شوي دي. -- د افغانستان د کورنيو چارو وزارت وايي د ټاکنو د ورځ په تاوتريخوالي کې ٢٠ ولسي وگړي، د ملي اردو ١٥ سرتيري او ٦٠ طالبان وژل شوي دي. -- افغان چارواکي وايي د ټاکنو په ترڅ کې د تاوتريخوالي د پېښو لامل د دواړو نوماندانو د پلويانو ترمنځ وسله والې نښتې، د سړک د غاړې چاودنې، د امنيتي ځواکونو او اورپکو ترمنځ جگړې او توغنديز بريدونه و. -- د افغانستان روغتیا وزارت بي بي سي ته وویل چې نژدې ۱۰۰ ټپیان او درې جسدونه روغتونونو ته ور لیږدول شوي دي. -- د رايې اچونې د بهير له ختمېدو وروسته د افغانستان د پوځ لوى درستيز شېر محمد کريمي له نورو امنيتي او ټاکنيزو بنسټونو سره په يوه گډه خبرې ناسته کې وويل چې د طالبانو د بريدونو کچه د ټاکنو د تېرځل په پرتله ټيټه وه. -- خو دا يې ومنله چې امنيتي ځواکونو او همداراز طالبانو ته مرگ ژوبله اوښتې. --د ټاکنو بهير د سهار په اوو بجو پيل او د مازيګر په څلورو بجو پای ته ورسېد، او د رايې شمېرنې بهير پيل شوى. -- سره له دې چې د رايو په ځينو مرکزونو کې رايې پاڼې ختمې شوې او ځينو مرکزونو ته نورې پاڼې ورولېږدول شوې خو د رايې اچونې موده ونه غوځول شوه. -- په داسې حال کې چې ټينگ امنيتي تدابير نيول شوي وو ميليونونه افغانان د رايو مرکزونو نه د باندې په اوږدو ليکو کې ولاړ و او د خپل نوبت انتظاريې کاوۀ. -- افغان ولسمشر حامد کرزي ارگ ته نژدې د رايو په يوۀ مرکز کې خپله رايه وکاروله او پر خلکو يې غږ وکړ چې په خپل لاس د خپل هېواد برخليک وټاکي ښاغلي کرزي وويل "ستاسو رايه د افغانستان ښې راتلونکې، ښه حکومت او يوۀ ښه ژوندانه ته لاره پرانيزي." -- ولسمشريزو ټاکنو ته نوماند اشرف غني احمدزي د پلازمېنې کابل په حبيبيې ليسې کې رايه واچوله او له رايې اچونې وروسته يې وويل " زه قانون ته غاړه ږدم او هیله لرم ډاکټر صاحب عبدالله هم ورته کار وکړي." -- د ښاغلي غني سيال ډاکټر عبدالله عبدالله هم خپله رايه د کابل په استقلال ليسه کې وکاروله. ښاغلي عبدالله وويل د درغلۍ له لارې ترلاسه شوې ان يوه رايه هم نه غواړي او زياته کړه چې که بريالى شي نو د ټولو په گډون به حکومت جوړوي. -- له ټينگو امنيتي تدابيرو سره سره د افغانستان له بېلابېلو برخو نه د تاوتريخوالي ځينې خبرونه راورسېدل خو چارواکي وويل داسې نه دي چې د ټاکنو بهير دې گډوډ کړاى شي. -- د اشرف غني احمدزي د ټاکنيزې ډلې وياند حميدالله فاروقي بي بي سي ته وويل دوى داسې اسناد تر لاسه کړي چې په ځينو ولايتونو کې امنيتي ځواکونو په تاکنو کې لاسوهنه کړې. -- د ولسمشريزو ټاکنو دواړو مخکښو نوماندانو ژمنه کړې چې د فساد پر ضد به مبارزه کوي او له لوېديځ سره به د اړيکو د ښه کولو لپاره گام واخلي. --- دا د افغانستان په تاريخ کې لومړی ځل دی، چې واک په سياسي ډول له يوۀ ولسمشر نه بل ولسمشر ته په سوله ييز چاپيريال کې لېږدول کېږي -- په افغانستان کې شاوخوا ۱۲ ميليونه کسان د رايې کارولو وړ بلل شوي او دغو کسانو د رايې ورکولو په شاوخوا ۶۰۰۰ مرکزونو کې خپلې رايې وکارولې. - BBC,

Tony Blair: 'We didn't cause Iraq crisis' --- The 2003 invasion of Iraq is not to blame for the violent insurgency now gripping the country, former UK prime minister Tony Blair has said. -- Writing on his website, he said the violence was the "predictable and malign effect" of inaction in Syria. -- "We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that 'we' have caused this," he wrote. "We haven't." -- He said the idea that the current crisis was a result of the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 was "bizarre". -- Mr Blair said the takeover of Mosul by Sunni insurgents was planned across the Syrian border. -- Syria is three years into a civil war in which tens of thousands of people have died and millions more have been displaced. -- In August last year, a chemical attack near the capital Damascus killed hundreds of people. -- In August, UK MPs rejected the idea of air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to deter the use of chemical weapons. -- "But every time we put off action," Mr Blair wrote, "The action we will be forced to take will be ultimately greater." --- Mr Blair said: "I understand all the reasons following Afghanistan and Iraq why public opinion was so hostile to involvement. -- He said action in Syria "did not and need not be as in those military engagements". -- "Where the extremists are fighting, they have to be countered hard, with force," he said. -- "This does not mean Western troops as in Iraq. -- "There are masses of responses we can make short of that. -- "But they need to know that wherever they're engaged in terror, we will be hitting them." -- The Sunni insurgents, from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), regard Iraq's Shia majority as "infidels". -- After taking Mosul late on Monday, and then Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, the Sunni militants have pressed south into the ethnically divided Diyala province. -- On Friday, they battled against Shia fighters near Muqdadiya - just 50 miles (80km) from Baghdad's city limits. -- Reinforcements from both the Iraqi army and Shia militias have arrived in the city of Samarra, where fighters loyal to ISIS are trying to enter from the north. -- Mr Blair said US President Barack Obama was "right to put all options on the table in respect of Iraq, including military strikes on the extremists". -- He said the "choices are all pretty ugly, it's true". - More, BBC,

Obama golfs at Sunnylands, returns to Rancho Mirage --- Obama attended a Democratic fundraiser and, later, spoke at UC Irvine's graduation at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. -- Update (6:55 p.m.): President Obama spent three hours and 40 minutes at Sunnylands to play golf. The president is now headed back to his house at Thunderbird Heights, according to the White House press pool report. -- Update (3:41 p.m.): The President has been in contact with National Security Adviser Susan Rice according to a White House press pool report. He has asked her to keep him abreast on the situation in Iraq. His national security team will continue to work on the situation through the weekend in order to determine options. -- Update (2:43 p.m.): Malia, the Obama's 15-year-old daughter, joined her parents in the desert Friday evening after arriving in the area by car, a source with the White House said. -- Update (2:40 p.m.): The president returned to Palm Springs shortly after 2 p.m. Unlike Friday evening, no local dignitaries greeted Obama at Palm Springs International Airport. He exited Air Force Once and quickly got into a black SUV. The motorcade then headed south out of the airport. -- Update (2:02 p.m.): President Obama flew by the already empty Angel Stadium in Anaheim, then Disneyland, on his way back to Los Alamitos. Before boarding Air Force One, the president shook hands with members of the military and families. Air Force One was taxiing to take off for Palm Springs at 1:35 p.m. -- Update (1:46 p.m.): The estimated attendance for Obama's commencement address at Angel Stadium in Anaheim was 30,641. Obama departed Anaheim aboard Marine One at 1:09 p.m. -- It left from the parking lot of Honda Center, home of the Ducks. "Your pooler does not speak hockey," a member of the press corps wrote at the end of the latest update. -- Update (11:30 a.m.): President Obama delivered the commencement address at the University of California, Irvine. -- Update (11:23 a.m.): President Obama left a DNC fundraiser in Laguna Beach at 10:50 a.m. About 25 supporters contributed up to $32,400 at the event, which was hosted by Anne Earhart, according to the DNC. The DNC did not respond to questions about the amount raised. -- President Obama boarded Marine One, which took off for Anaheim about 11 a.m. The president landed near Angel Stadium about fifteen minutes later. -- Update (10:26 a.m.) After a short ride south past cheering onlookers, the president arrived at a private residence in Laguna Beach at 9:45 am for a DNC fundraiser. - More, Staff reports, The Desert Sun,

Afghans Vote to Elect New President --- Afghans on Saturday voted to elect a new president who would replace Hamid Karzai, steering the country as U.S.-led forces withdraw, foreign aid declines and the Taliban plot a comeback. -- The Taliban launched hundreds of scattered attacks around the country, but none disrupted the vote in major population centers by the time polls closed at 4 p.m. Preliminary election results are slated to be released on July 2. -- More than 20 civilians and at least 26 Afghan troops were killed during the day, the government said. The deadliest of these attacks appeared to be a rocket that hit a home in the eastern province of Khost, killing seven children. Afghan security forces were deployed throughout the major cities, studding roads with checkpoints and protecting the precincts -- According to election commission chief Yusuf Nuristani, some 7 million Afghans voted, roughly the same number as during the election's first round in April. -- One of them was Hikmatullah Shadman, a Dubai-based businessman who flew to Kabul specially to cast his ballot. He scoffed at the Taliban threats. "We want to slap them in the face," Mr. Shadman said. "We want to show them we are the owners of this country, we are the people who are choosing the leader of our country." -- In the eastern city of Jalalabad, voter Amin Khpalwak was just as defiant. "The Taliban have warned they will cut off the fingers of voters, but even if the cut off my whole hand, I will still vote," he said. --- Saturday's vote follows April's first round, which propelled former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani into the runoff. --- "The turnout of the people in the election took our country one more step, a very strong step, towards stability and prosperity," Mr. Karzai said, congratulating Afghan voters after polls closed Saturday. "The people of Afghanistan, with a strong will and determination, went to vote, and made Afghanistan proud and successful." -- Mr. Karzai also expressed his condolences to the families of Afghans killed during the election. -- The election comes as the U.S.-led coalition's combat mission winds down in December, and as Afghanistan's aid-dependent economy begins to feel the pain from international disengagement. -- Despite Mr. Nuristani's estimate of a high turnout, few polling stations in Kabul were as crowded as they had been in April. At one polling center in western Kabul, where voters snaked up the staircase for hours in the first round, only a handful of voters could be seen wandering in on Saturday. -- Voters moved more quickly through precincts on Saturday because, in April, the presidential vote was combined with provincial council elections that involved filling a complicated separate ballot, election officials say. -- The Abdullah and Ghani camps began trading allegations of fraud before the polls closed. Nader Nadery, who heads the Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan, which deployed 9,500 observers across the country, said it was too early to draw conclusions on the extent of fraud. "Allegations [of ballot stuffing] are there across the board," he said. "We are collecting whatever critical or sensitive material there is and treating it carefully." -- Mr. Nuristani, the election commission chairman, acknowledged receiving reports of fraud, including by election officials and by security forces. --- In a statement congratulating Afghans for defying Taliban threats and casting their vote in large numbers, U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham urged the country's election authorities to "perform their roles impartially, responsibly, and transparently. Vigilance and oversight are essential and allegations of fraud need to be addressed." -- Mr. Cunningham, however, also urged the two rivals to avoid trading allegations of electoral fraud too quickly: "The candidates and their supporters should refrain from premature judgments and from criticism that is not supported with clear evidence." --- The Taliban believe Saturday's election as illegitimate because of the continuing presence of U.S. troops. "The only product of this deceitful process is the continuation of the invasion and paving the way for the presence of invaders in Afghanistan," the Taliban said in a statement before the election. -- Both front runners said they intend to sign a security agreement with the U.S. that would allow 9,800 American troops to remain in the country after the coalition's mandate ends in December. Mr. Karzai has so far refused to sign the deal. - More, WSJ,

پلیس و کمیسیون انتخابات افغانستان یکدیگر را به تخلف انتخاباتی متهم کردند --- پلیس کابل می‌گوید دو خودروی حامل مواد انتخاباتی را که بدون اطلاع نیروهای امنیتی در حال انتقال به مکانی نامعلوم بودند، توقیف کرده است. -- ژنرال محمدظاهر ظاهر، فرمانده پلیس کابل می‌گوید که ضیاءالحق امرخیل، رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان، سعی داشته است با بهره گرفتن از این مواد انتخاباتی، به نفع یکی از نامزدهای انتخابات ریاست‌جمهوری تقلب کند. --- آقای امرخیل این اتهام را رد کرده و گفته است که خودروها در حال انتقال مواد انتخاباتی به یکی از محلات رأی‌دهی در ولسوالی سروبی (از توابع کابل) بوده‌اند، ولی پلیس مانع شده است. -- او این اقدام پلیس را تخلف خواند. --- فرمانده پلیس کابل می‌گوید خودروهایی که توقیف شده‌اند، حامل مواد انتخاباتی بوده‌اند و طبق قانون، نیروهای امنیتی باید در جریان جابجایی آنها قرار می‌گرفتند تا بتوانند امنیت لازم را تامین کنند، اما چنین اتفاقی نیفتاده است. او می‌گوید که از منطقه سروبی گزارشی از کمبود اوراق رأی‌دهی دریافت نشده است. -- او اضافه کرده است که حامد کرزی، رئیس‌جمهوری افغانستان در جریان این اتفاق است و دستور داده تا مواد انتخاباتی به رئیس کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات تحویل داده شود و تحقیقات لازم آغاز شود. -- ژنرال ظاهر گفته است که کسی از وضعیت خودروها و این که راهی کجا بودند، خبر نداشته است. -- اما رئیس دبیرخانه کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات افغانستان گفته است که یکی از مراکز رأی‌دهی ولسوالی سروبی اعلام کرده بود که با کمبود برگه‌های رأی روبه‌روست و این خودروها به آنجا می‌رفتند. -- او اضافه کرد: وظیفه داریم کمبودهای مراکز رأی‌دهی را تامین کنیم و در حال انجام وظیفه بودیم که پلیس مانع شد. -- آقای امرخیل هم خواهان تحقیق و بررسی درباره ادعاهای تخلف و تقلب و حتی مداخله شخص رئیس‌جمهوری افغانستان برای رسیدگی به این ادعاها شده است. -- BBC,

Supporters line PCH as Obama arrives in Laguna --- ANAHEIM (CNS) - President Barack Obama was greeted by large, cheering crowds on Pacific Coast Highway as he travelled to an ocean-view house in Laguna Beach today, as tens of thousands arrived at Angels Stadium for his noon-hour speech at UC Irvine’s 50th anniversary commencement ceremony. -- Traffic on Laguna Beach’s only major north-south street was blocked for the presidential motorcade, and crowds were four-to-six people deep, according to a pool reporter. -- The presidential 747 had touched down on schedule at 9 a.m. at Los Alamitos Army Airfield. On hand to greet him were Congressman Alan Lowenthal, D- Long Beach, Los Alamitos Mayor Gerri Graham-Mejia, and military officials. -- And at 9:18 a.m., his helicopter Marine One lifted off towards Orange County. -- According to the Democratic National Committee, he was to take part in a roundtable discussion in Laguna Beach with about 25 supporters who will each pay up to $32,400. -- After the fundraiser, Obama was to make his way to Angel Stadium in Anaheim to speak to UC Irvine’s graduating class. -- UCI students conducted a large-scale campaign to lure Obama to the event, with students and staff collecting signatures on an estimated 10,000 postcards that were delivered along with a video to the White House. -- “We are thrilled that the president has accepted our invitation to deliver the keynote address at our commencement exercises this June,” UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake said in March when the White House announced Obama’s plans to attend. “We will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies of our campus. We are proud of the progress we have made during our first half-century, and are looking forward to even greater achievements in the years to come.”. -- President Lyndon B. Johnson took part in the June 1964 dedication ceremony in a pasture that is now home to the university. -- More than 8,000 students will receive degrees during UCI graduation ceremonies that will be held over three days, according to the university. The unified event at Anaheim stadium will include all undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, with individual ceremonies planned Sunday and Monday. As is typical with presidential visits, motorists should anticipate delays and detours. Police said the following closures were planned today. - More, City News Service,

شمارش اولیه آرا انتخابات افغانستان ادامه دارد --- کنفرانس مطبوعاتی اشرف غنی احمدزی شروع شد -- احمدزی: مردم افغانستان قانون را جدی می‌گیرند. -- احمدزی: با رفتن انتخابات به دور دوم و برگزاری دور دوم ثابت شد که بیشتر تحلیل‌های تحلیلگران خارجی در مورد افغانستان نادرست بود. -- احمدزی: ما بارها اعلام کردیم که یک رای تقلبی را قبول نداریم و امیدوار هستیم که داکتر صاحب عبدالله هم همین نظر را داشته باشد. -- احمدزی: نماینده صلح و ثبات و آینده افغانستان هستم، نه جنگ. -- احمدزی: من چه نیاز به تقلب دارم. برای من براساس برنامه هایم می‌دهند، نه کدام دلیل دیگر. -- احمدزی: نظرسنجی ها نشان داد که ما پیشتاز هستیم، چون برنامه هایمان از خواسته های مردم نشات گرفته است -- احمدزی: رسانه های افغانستان انتخابات را به یک بحث ملی بدل کردند. تاثیر و نقش رسانه ها در آگاهی مردم بسیار زیاد بود. اهمیت آزادی بیان در این انتخابات به طور کامل روشن شد -- احمدزی: تقلب در انتخابات جا ندارد، ما به تقلب باور نداریم، اما اطلاعاتی به دست ما رسیده است که شماری از نیروهای امنیتی در انتخابات مداخله کرده اند. -- احمدزی: باور داریم که کردار نامطلوب عده ای معدود، خللی در احترام و قدردانی ما از نهادهای امنیتی وارد نمی کند. -- احمدزی: جدیدترین تخطی ها، مداخله غیرقانونی برخی مسئولان و ارگان های امنیتی بوده است -- احمدزی: ما اسناد و مدارک کافی در مورد تخلف و تقلب داریم و در اختیار کمیسیون انتخابات قرار می‌دهیم. -- اشرف غنی احمدزی و عبدالله عبدالله هردو، به طور ضمنی از پیروزی خود در انتخابات سخن گفتند، اما از ابراز نظر صریح در این مورد خودداری کردند. -- احمدزی: مردم با مشارکت گسترده خود نشان دادند که خواستار تغییر هستند و این تغییر فرا خواهد رسید -- احمدزی: تیم ما نماینده مردم افغانستان است و خواهد ماند. -- احمدزی: همیشه تسلیم قانون هستیم و منتظر نتایج خواهیم ماند -- احمدزی: اکنون وظیفه کمیسیون انتخابات است که آرا را با امانت شمارش، و نتیجه را اعلام کند -- احمدزی: مردم افغانستان که می خواستند از نامزد خاصی حمایت کنند، به سمتشان تیراندازی شده است که موضوع نگران‌کننده ای است. -- اشرف غنی: از ملت افغانستان تشکر می کنم --- عبدالله: امیدواریم در مواردی که از تخلفات انتخاباتی گزارش شده اند، نهادهای انتخاباتی با شفافیت وارد عمل شوند -- عبدالله: نیروهای امنیتی در برخی موارد، مانع حضور ناظران ما در مراکز رأی دهی شده اند- -- عبدالله: مشارکت مردم در این دور از انتخابات خوب بود، اما باید یک هفته ای منتظر باشیم تا دریابیم چند نفر در رای گیری مشارکت داشته اند. -- عبدالله: جایی برای تکرار حوادث گذشته نیست و توقع همه مردم افغانستان از نهادهای انتخاباتی این است که طبق قانون عمل کنند و اعتماد مردم افغانستان را اعاده کنند -- عبدالله: عملکرد ما در سایه حمایت مردم، فوق العاده بود، آنها به ما رای دادند و من درباره نتیجه انتخابات، پیش داوری نمی کنم، اما گفته های اولیه، نشانه های خوبی برای ما دارد -- عبدالله: از کسی برای قدم گذاشتن در این راه درس نگرفته ایم و از گذشته، برای خدمت به کشورمان آماده بوده ایم -- عبدالله: در این دور از انتخابات، تهدیدهای امنیتی زیاد بود، اما میزان مشارکت مردم، بعد از بررسی های نهایی مشخص خواهد شد -- عبدالله: حکومت آینده افغانستان انحصاری نخواهد بود و از تمام شخصیت های متعهد برای همکاری دعوت خواهد شد -- عبدالله: مشکلات بسیاری در سیستم وجود دارد و عده ای توانسته اند از این مشکلات سوءاستفاده کنند -- عبدالله: به مردم افغانستان اطمینان می دهیم که بسیار پاک وارد میدان شدیم، پاک مبارزه کردیم و منتظر اعلام نتایج پاک هستیم. -- عبدالله: ملاحظاتی داریم که مطرح کرده ایم، اما نمی خواهیم موفقیت مردم افغانستان تحت تاثیر عملکردهای فردی قرار بگیرد -- آقای عبدالله تاکید کرد که نتیجه معلوم است اما اعلام نتیجه از مسئولیت کمیسیون انتخابات است -- عبدالله: مسئولیت نهادهای انتخاباتی است که به حق و اراده مردم احترام بگذارند و از مسئولیت های خطیر خود غفلت نکنند -- عبدالله عبدالله: مردم افغانستان ما را از خود دانستند، بطور قطع می توانم بگویم، در دوم اعتماد بیشتر مردم افغانستان را جلب کرد. -- عبدالله عبدالله: دست ما پاک و خاطرمان جمع است و فکرمان آرام. - More, BBC,

Afghan election: Violence overshadows run-off vote --- At least 46 people have been killed as millions of Afghans cast their votes in a run-off to elect a new president. -- Local people, security officials and militants were among those who died in a number of low-level attacks across the country. -- More than seven million people turned out to vote, election officials said - a similar number to the first round. -- Voters are choosing between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani. -- Whoever wins will succeed Hamid Karzai, who has been president since 2001. -- The Taliban had threatened to target voting, and there were concerns that fraud could produce a disputed result. -- The Afghan interior minister earlier said there had been 150 attacks. BBC reporters across the country said they had seen more violence than in the previous round, but most incidents were relatively low level. -- Election commission chief Ahmad Yousef Nooristani said fewer than 200 of the 6,365 polling stations were unable to operate because of security concerns. -- Of those who turned out to vote, 38% were women and 62% were men, he said. -- Mr Nooristani also said there had been some complaints of irregularities which would be investigated, but did not give further details. -- Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah thanked "the whole nation of participating in the election" and called for a full investigation in the allegations of fraud. -- Afghans who've lived through all the devastating wars since President Najibullah's Soviet-backed rule are hoping this election will help turn the page on their punishing history. -- It will be the first time in Afghan history that power is transferred peacefully, from one elected leader to another. - BBC,

Afghans ignore Taliban threats and vote again in final test --- (Reuters) - Millions of Afghans turned out for a second time on Saturday to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai on Saturday, a decisive test of the country's ambitions to transfer power democratically for the first time in its tumultuous history. -- Most foreign troops will leave by the end of 2014, and whoever takes over from Karzai will inherit a troubled country plagued by an assertive Taliban insurgency and an economy crippled by corruption and the weak rule of law. -- The run-off pitted former anti-Taliban fighter Abdullah Abdullah against ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani after neither secured the 50 percent majority needed to win outright in the first round on April 5. -- While violence spiked on the day with at least 20 civilians reported dead and a further 16 security force members killed in clashes with militants, the interior ministry said, the high-profile attacks that had been feared did not materialise. -- Voting ended at 4 p.m. (1130 GMT) with a palpable sense of relief in the Afghan capital. -- "I'm from this country so I am never afraid of threats," said Lajiullah Azizi, a hospital worker who voted in western Kabul just minutes after a small bomb exploded at his polling station. "I hope this election will bring peace." -- Officials immediately began counting ballots, although Afghanistan's difficult terrain, where ballot boxes have to hauled by donkey from some of its remotest corners, means preliminary results will not be known until July 2. -- Karzai, standing down after 12 years in power marked by increasingly sour relations with the West, is certain to retain a hand in politics but has been tight-lipped about his plans. -- "Today Afghanistan takes a step towards stability, development and peace. Come out and determine your destiny," Karzai, clad in his trademark green Afghan robe, said after casting his ballot. --- "Looking ahead, the United States stands ready to work with the next president of Afghanistan," the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, James B. Cunningham, said in a statement. -- "Today marks the start of a new era for Afghanistan, and Afghans can be proud of what they have achieved." -- Twelve million voters were eligible to cast ballots at 6,365 polling centres across Afghanistan, from windswept deserts on the Iranian border to the rugged Hindu Kush mountains. -- Despite the outbreaks of violence, voters defied threats and long queues snaked out of polling centres in urban areas soon after voting began at 7 a.m. -- Turnout was more than seven million, election commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said, roughly the same as in the first round of voting in April. -- The turnout was so high that some 333 voting centres ran out of ballot papers, sparking minor protests by disgruntled voters. The election commission said additional materials were later distributed and calm was restored. -- "Security is a concern but the people of Afghanistan have defied security threats so far," Abdullah said. - More,

Obama to Deliver UC Irvine Grad Speech --- President will also meet with fundraisers in Orange County, visit Palm Springs area while in SoCal. -- President Barack Obama is returning to Southern California for four days to meet with fundraisers and deliver the commencement speech at University of California, Irvine. --- The president accepted the school's invite after students, faculty and athletes sent signatures, postcards, and a student-made video featuring the university’s 7-foot-6 basketball team center to the White House. -- The Saturday ceremony coincides with the 50th anniversary of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson’s dedication of the land that university is built on, but will take place at nearby Angel Stadium of Anaheim. --- The president and First Lady Michelle Obama begin their time in California with a brief stay in the Palm Springs area - the president's third time in a year. -- The White House has not confirmed where the Obamas will stay during their visit, but the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, where he hosted a summit with King Abdullah II of Jordan in February, is a possibility. --- Saturday morning, Obama will travel to Orange County, where he will be at a Laguna Beach roundtable with 25 fundraisers who each donated up to $32,240 to the Democratic National Committee, before delivering the commencement address. -- City News Service contributed to this report - .

Voting Underway in Afghanistan’s Presidential Runoff Election --- KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghans lined up on Saturday to vote in the second and final round of the country’s presidential elections, choosing a new leader to steer Afghanistan through the coming withdrawal of American-led military forces, despite reports of scattered attacks in the capital and elsewhere. -- Voters across Kabul, the capital, formed orderly lines in the morning sun, braving threats of violence and intimidation with a sense of purpose and optimism, if with less of the euphoria that accompanied the first round of voting in April. -- “It has been our hope to one day elect the president we want,” said Rassoul Dad Hajizada, a retired army colonel whose heavy white beard came down to his chest. “We cannot lose this opportunity. We must participate for our success.” -- Voters were choosing between Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister, and Abdullah Abdullah, a prominent opposition politician, to succeed President Hamid Karzai, who exhorted people to vote with an appeal to Afghan pride. “Choose your destiny with your hands and save us from foreign dependency by casting your vote,” he said in a statement. - More, NYTimes,

Nuristani urges people to vote, defy threats --- KABUL (Pajhwok): Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), on Saturday asked all eligible voters to throng to polling stations and cast ballot by defying all threats. -- Nuristani exercised his vote right as ballot process formally started at 7:00 am on Saturday throughout the country. -- Speaking to reporters, Nuristani asked Afghans to participate in the democratic process and demonstrate enthusiasm as they did in the first round of elections. -- “My message to all eligible Afghans is that to cast your vote and challenge the enemies of Afghanistan this way,” he said, praising Afghan security forces for tight security measures throughout the country. -- He said a total of 6,365 polling centres, with 23,000 polling stations were opened today in the country and the IEC had transferred enough ballot papers to facilitate all eligible voters. -- Keeping in view the experience of the April 5 ballot, this time the process would be more transparent. If any IEC official or staff found involved in election affairs in favour of any candidate then tough action would be taken against him, he warned. -- On alleged reports of ballot stuffing in Paktika, he said: “We have heard about ballot stuffing in Paktika province. We are confirming the ground reports.” -- Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani were the leading candidates contested in the second round of elections. The final result of the election is set to be announced on July 22. - More,

In A First, Afghanistan Is Set To Change Leaders At The Ballot Box --- Afghanistan is about to get a new leader for the first time since the Taliban were driven out in 2001 and replaced by the current president, Hamid Karzai. -- Saturday's presidential runoff will be a historic event in Afghanistan, marking the first time in the country's long and often painful history that power has changed hands through the ballot box. -- Karzai is barred from running again, and the only two names on the ballot will be Abdullah Abdullah, an ophthalmologist and former foreign minister, and Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank official. -- The official campaign period has come to an end, and candidates are now observing a silence period as election and security officials make final preparations. -- Abdullah enters the runoff as the front-runner, having won 45 percent of the vote in the first round on April 5. He's an ophthalmologist by training who became a medic with the mujahedeen, the Afghan fighters who battled the Soviet forces in the 1980s. Abdullah then became an adviser to the famous rebel commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. -- Abdullah later served as foreign minister in Karzai's government, but split from Karzai in 2006 and challenged the incumbent president in the 2009 election. Abdullah received 30 percent of the vote but dropped out of the runoff against Karzai because he said the election was rigged in favor of the president. --- Ghani, meanwhile, is seen as a technocrat, compared with Abdullah the diplomat and politician. Ghani, a Pashtun from the eastern province of Logar, won 31.5 percent of the vote in the first round. After completing high school in Afghanistan, he earned a bachelor's degree at the American University of Beirut. He later earned a doctorate in cultural anthropology at Columbia University, and taught at the University of California, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins. -- He then became a senior official at the World Bank. After the fall of the Taliban, he returned to Afghanistan, playing a key role in the formation of the new government and serving as finance minister. -- Over the years, Ghani has become a leading analyst on developing countries and is the author of the book Fixing Failed States. -- While the two men have different personalities and tend not to get along with each other, they share a desire to strengthen ties with the U.S. Both candidates have said they will sign a security agreement with the U.S. as soon he's elected. --- And Afghanistan is still a fledgling democracy where voters are more often swayed by tribal, ethnic and family affiliations than by who has the better tax plan. - Most, NPR,

Friday, June 13, 2014

Millions of Afghans vote in crunch run-off poll --- Afghans are voting in run-off polls that will determine who will succeed President Hamid Karzai. -- The choice is between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani. -- It should be the first time that power in Afghanistan has been democratically transferred. --- Afghans who've lived through all the devastating wars since President Najibullah's Soviet-backed rule are hoping this election will help turn the page on their punishing history. -- It will be the first time in Afghan history that power is transferred peacefully, from one elected leader to another. --- Despite all the disappointments and setbacks since 2001, Afghanistan is now a changed country. -- When Afghans turn out to vote for this crucial second round, it will be a test of their security forces as well as the electoral institutions. --- About 12 million Afghans are eligible to vote. Polls opened at 0700 local time (0330 BST) amid tight security at more than 6,000 polling centres. --- Officials say that their main fear is a close outcome, because that would allow the supporters of whoever loses to reject defeat, possibly throwing the country back into war along ethnic lines. - BBC,

انتخابات افغانستان، دور دوم -- دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان رسما ساعت هفت صبح به وقت محلی آغاز شد. رئیس کمیسیون مستقل انتخابات با انداختن نخستین رای از مردم خواست که رویداد شانزده حمل را تکرار کنند و حضور گسترده داشته باشند. -- آقای نورستانی از نیروهای امنیتی برای تامین امنیت انتخابات ستایش کرد و از سربازان افغان خواست که در روند رای گیری مداخله نکنند. آقای نورستانی گفت که نیروهای امنیتی امنیت رای دهندگان را در بیرون محلات رای گیری تامین کنند. --- حامد کرزی رای خود را در مرکز انتخاباتی لیسه امانی در نزدیکی ریاست جمهوری ریخت و پس از ریختن رای به صندوق گفت: در انتخابات ریاست جمهوری رای بدهید و رئیس جمهوری انتخاب کنید و با رای خود باعث ثبات و ترقی در افغانستان شوید --- آقای غنی در لیسه حبیبه کابل رای خود را به صندوق ریخت و پس از رای‌دهی از مردم خواست که به مناسبت روز مادر به پای صندوق های رای بروند و رای بدهند. -- اشرف غنی احمدزی از چهره‌های آکادمیک است که در این رقابت شرکت دارد. او ۶۰ سال دارد. در لبنان و آمریکا تحصیل کرده و دکترای مردم شناسی دارد. آقای غنی بعد از سی سال تبعید، با سرنگونی گروه طالبان، به افغانستان بازگشت. --- عبدالله عبدالله دست کم در دو دهه گذشته همواره در صحنه سیاست حضور فعال داشته است و در یک دهه گذشته رهبری اپوزیسیون سیاسی دولت کنونی افغانستان را به عهده داشته‌است. --- ساعتی قبل گشایش مراکز رای‌گیری، صدای چند انفجار در کابل شنیده شد. مقام های پلیس اصابت دو موشک در پایتخت را تایید کردند اما گفتند که این رویدادها تلفاتی نداشته است. --- رسانه‌های تصویری و صوتی افغانستان لحظه به لحظه انتخابات افغانستان را پوشش می دهند، گزارش های خبرنگاران این رسانه ها از مناطق مختلف افغانستان نیز حاکی از آن است که میزان مشارکت بالا است و صفوف طولانی رای دهی در مناطق مختلف تشکیل شده است. - More, BBC,

Found! Hidden Ocean Locked Up Deep in Earth's Mantle --- Deep within the Earth's rocky mantle lies oceans' worth of water locked up in a type of mineral called ringwoodite, new research shows. -- The results of the study will help scientists understand Earth's water cycle, and how plate tectonics moves water between the surface of the planet and interior reservoirs, researchers say. --- The Earth's mantle is the hot, rocky layer between the planet's core and crust. Scientists have long suspected that the mantle's so-called transition zone, which sits between the upper and lower mantle layers 255 to 410 miles (410 to 660 kilometers) below Earth's surface, could contain water trapped in rare minerals. However, direct evidence for this water has been lacking, until now. -- To see if the transition zone really is a deep reservoir for water, researchers conducted experiments on water-rich ringwoodite, analyzed seismic waves travelling through the mantle beneath the United States, and studied numerical models. They discovered that downward-flowing mantle material is melting as it crosses the boundary between the transition zone and the lower mantle layer. -- "If we are seeing this melting, then there has to be this water in the transition zone," said Brandon Schmandt, a seismologist at the University of New Mexico and co-author of the new study published today (June 12) in the journal Science. "The transition zone can hold a lot of water, and could potentially have the same amount of H2O [water] as all the world's oceans." (Melting is a way of getting rid of water, which is unstable under conditions in Earth's lower mantle, the researchers said.) - More,

Jihadist expansion in Iraq puts Persian Gulf states in a tight spot --- As Sunni jihadists have pushed from Syria deep into Iraq, making startling gains that are now threatening Baghdad, they are highlighting the increasingly uncomfortable position of Persian Gulf states that have backed Syria’s predominantly Sunni rebels. -- Officially, Iraq’s southern neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, oppose groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which captured advanced weaponry caches and forced a dramatic retreat of government security forces across northern Iraq this week. -- But citizens in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have quietly funneled vast sums of money to and joined the ranks of ISIS and other jihadist groups fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria over the past two years, analysts and U.S. officials have said. -- The Syrian conflict, which has pitted Sunni fighters against Syrian forces and Shiite militias backed by Iran, has now more tangibly than ever spilled across regional borders, setting off the most serious crisis in Iraq since the bloodiest periods of the U.S. occupation. As a result, the gulf-sponsored jihadists — who could threaten the very integrity of the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments — are suddenly on the gulf’s back doorstep. -- “While Sunni governments don’t support ISIS,” their people do, said Andrew Tabler, an expert on Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East policy. “The funding for ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist organizations is coming from” gulf states. -- Now those gulf states “are in an awkward position,” he said. -- And yet gulf governments are hardly expected to come to Iraq’s aid. They have long harbored animosity toward Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite who came to power during the war in Iraq and empowered the country’s Shiite majority at the expense of Sunnis, and whom many Sunni Arabs view as a pawn of Iran. --- Although Saudi Arabia and its gulf allies may fear ISIS, “they have no particular interest in shoring up Maliki’s government,” said Shadi Hamid, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington. -- King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly refused to meet with Maliki, despite a long, shared border. -- “The king has a personal attitude that this man is a puppet in the hand of the Iranians, and he dismissed him from his book a long time ago,” said Mustafa Alani, director of the National Security and Terrorism Studies Department at the Gulf Research Center. - More, Abigail Hauslohner, Washingtonpost

Amid security threats, Afghans gear up for historic election --- Two ex-ministers face off in presidential vote, which could lead to first peaceful transfer of power. -- KABUL — Afghans vote Saturday in an election that could deliver the first peaceful transfer of power in the nation’s history. But Western and Afghan officials worry the presidential race could be marred by a disputed result, massive fraud or insurgent attacks. --- The United States, which has sought to play a very low-key role in the process, has a huge amount at stake. If a new president is sworn in relatively smoothly in the coming weeks, the Obama administration may have a fighting chance of winding down a deeply unpopular, 13-year war with a semblance of dignity and may be able to maintain a small military contingent here for at least a couple of years. -- The presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, have pledged to maintain a close military relationship with the United States. Both served in the cabinet of President Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since December 2001, after the Taliban regime was toppled. -- The streets of Afghanistan’s normally teeming capital were largely deserted this week as officials shut down schools and government buildings in an effort to make security more manageable. -- Turnout in the first round of the election in April was relatively high, and some Afghans expressed faith that a new leader could steady a country gripped by uncertainty as war rages on and foreign troops withdraw. --- “If President Karzai could not defeat the Taliban with broad support from the international community, without a NATO presence here these guys can’t defeat the Taliban,” said Ali, who runs a photo studio. -- Each candidate has sought to cast himself as the agent of change this impoverished nation desperately needs at a time when the international community is disengaging and the economy is in a tailspin. -- With no major policy disagreements between the men, the race has increasingly become about style and personality. --- During rallies, Abdullah has sought to burnish his religious credentials in this conservative Muslim nation by opening speeches with recitations from the Koran, displaying a greater degree of piety than he has in the past. -- Ghani, a former senior World Bank economist, took a jab at Abdullah’s camp during his final campaign appearance, noting that a close ally of his rival had been a shareholder in Kabul Bank, which collapsed in 2010 amid revelations that it was run like a Ponzi scheme. -- In the final days of the campaign, the two teams have sharpened their criticism of each other. Ghani’s camp has portrayed Abdullah as a return to the country’s dark past; Abdullah’s team accuses Ghani of lacking Afghan street credibility. -- Both candidates have accused segments of the Afghan government of bias in the race, laying out a potential argument to contest the results if the election is close. Ghani has been critical of the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, while Abdullah has charged that the country’s electoral commission has failed to properly investigate fraud claims. -- A protracted election dispute could worsen Afghanistan’s fragile security situation and damage its economy. -- In an effort to minimize fraud, both campaigns planned to have election observers stationed across the country. The Ghani team had said it would hire 50,000 observers who would each be paid $50 for a day’s work — a significant wage in much of Afghanistan. -- Officially, presidential candidates are not permitted to spend more than $200,000 on their campaigns. But Ghani and Abdullah have crisscrossed the country in chartered planes, hosted dozens of massive dinner parties and paid for numerous billboards and large teams of bodyguards. - More, Washingtonpost

.آمریکا ۱۲ زندانی خارجی را از زندان بگرام آزاد کرد --- مقامات آمریکایی اعلام کرده‌اند که ۱۲ زندانی خارجی را که در بازداشتگاه بگرام در شمال کابل، نگهداری می‌شدند، آزاد کردند. -- گفته می‌شود که این افراد بدون اطلاع مقامات افغان به صور مخفی توسط ارتش آمریکا در فرودگاه نظامی بگرام نگهداری می‌شدند و اکنون به کشورهای متبوع‌شان تحویل داده شده‌اند. -- یکی از این زندانیان فرانسوی، دیگری تبعه کویت و ده تن دیگر پاکستانی بودند. -- هنوز جزئیات آزادی این زندانیان معلوم نیست که تحت چه شرایطی آزاد و به کشورهای شان برگردانده شده‌اند. --رئیس جمهوری آمریکا، باراک اوباما قبلا در نامه‌ای به کنگره این کشور گفته بود که ۳۸ زندانی غیر افغان شامل پاکستانی‌ها، تونسی‌ها، روس‌ها و یمنی‌ها در زندان بگرام نگهداری می‌شوند. -- پنتاگون، وزارت دفاع آمریکا نیز ماه گذشته اطلاعاتی را درباره این زندانیان و ارتباط آنان با گروه‌های جنگجو به گنگره ارائه کرد. -- علاوه بر آن گفته می‌شود که اداره اوباما همچنین در نظر دارد برخی از زندانیان بازداشتگاه گوانتانامو را از آنجا به مکانهای دیگر منتقل کند. -- در حدود ۱۵۰ زندانی هنوز در بازداشتگاه گوانتامو نگهداری می‌شوند. -- در کلیک فوریه سال ۲۰۱۴ حکومت افغانستان اعلام کرد که نیروهای خارجی دیگر حق بازداشت و نگهداری افراد در زندان‌ها را در خاک افغانستان و راه اندازی عملیات‌های نظامی را در قلمرو این کشور ندارند. -- حدود یک سال پیش در مراسم کلیک تحویل‌دهی مسئولیت زندانیان بگرام، که بزرگترین زندان نیروهای خارجی در افغانستان به حساب می‌آمد، حکومت افغانستان و فرماندهی ناتو توافق کرده بودند که پس از این نیروهای خارجی می‌توانند افرادی را در افغانستان بازداشت کنند، اما این افراد را ظرف ۹۶ ساعت به نیروهای افغان تحویل دهند. -- در فوریه سال ۲۰۱۴ ریاست جمهوری افغانستان رسما اعلام کرد که سربازان خارجی پس از این حق بازداشت افراد را در افغانستان نخواهند داشت و بازداشتگاه بگرام دیگر زندان خاص نخواهد بود و در چارچوب وزارت امور داخله/ کشور به صورت یک بازداشتگاه عادی درخواهد آمد. -- دولت افغانستان بعد از تحویل گیری مسئولیت زندان بگرام اغلب زندانیان این زندان را رها کرد که آمریکا در برابر رهایی این زندانیان به شدت کلیک واکنش نشان داد و گفت تعداد از این افراد زندانیان خطرناک بودند که در عملیات تروریستی دست داشتند و عواقب رهایی آنان به عهده دولت افغانستان است. -- بعدا کرزی با انتقاد از روند بازداشت و برخورد نیروهای آمریکایی با زندانیان گفت که برخورد آنها با افراد بازداشت شده باعث شده که زندان بگرام به یک کارخانه طالب سازی تبدیل شود. - BBC

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The U.S. spent $3 million on boats for landlocked Afghanistan --- The United States spent more than $3 million on eight patrol boats for the Afghan police, according to an internal audit released Thursday. -- That sentence is surprising for a few reasons: - 1. Afghanistan is landlocked. - 2. Not a single boat has arrived in Afghanistan, even though the purchase was made in 2010. - 3. That works out to be more than $375,000 per boat. Similar boats in the United States are typically sold for about $50,000. --- According to the report from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the boats were meant to be used to patrol the Amu Darya River running between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. They were bought to move government supplies and “to deter smuggling and illegal entry into Afghanistan,” according to Gen. Harold Greene. --- But nine months after the boats were purchased, U.S. and NATO forces decided that the boats wouldn’t be necessary after all. By then, though, it was too late. The U.S. government had already spent $3 million on the boats. Nearly four years later, they are still sitting in storage at a Virginia naval base. -- It remains a mystery why the boats were deemed unnecessary so soon after they were bought. -- “The list of unanswered questions is particularly troubling given the fact…that this program had been an important national security priority for the Afghan National Security Forces prior to its cancellation,” John Sopko, the inspector general, said in a letter to U.S. military officials. -- Millions in U.S. government funds have been misspent in Afghanistan, as the inspector general has noted in a slew of reports over the past year. There was the $34 million military headquarters that sat empty as soon as it was completed — no longer needed because Marines had departed the area. There was the $80 million consulate deemed too unsafe to use after it was finished. --- But the boats seem a particularly odd expense. Afghan security forces continue to struggle to maintain basic military equipment and locate spare parts. It’s unclear how they would have managed to fix broken boats. The nearest port is about a thousand miles away, in Pakistan. -- Perhaps even more bizarrely, the United States had provided boats to Uzbekistan to patrol the same river years earlier. --- According to a WikiLeaks cable, Uzbekistan had acquired 19 boats from the United States in 2004 to secure the Amu Darya River. Four years later, a State Department official wrote to U.S. Central Command that some of the boats had broken and asking whether the military could send over two more, along with two additional motors. - More, Kevin Sieff, Washingtonpost,

Afghans prepare to vote again: Abdullah vs. Ghani --- (Reuters) - Afghans head to the polls on Saturday for the second time in 10 weeks to elect a president who will take office as most foreign forces prepare to leave after nearly 13 years of inconclusive war. -- None of the eight candidates who contested the first round of the election on April 5 won more than 50 percent of the vote meaning the top two contenders have to face off on Saturday. -- The two men aiming to succeed President Hamid Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from a third term, are a former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, and an ex-World Bank economist and former finance minister, Ashraf Ghani. -- The winner will inherit an unfinished war and an economy in the doldrums. -- The Taliban are still strong and Afghanistan's foreign-trained army has never put to rest questions about its effectiveness, especially in the absence of foreign troops, the bulk of whom will leave by the end of the year. -- Afghanistan's economy is slowing rapidly and faces the prospect of an international blacklist later this month because of a failure to stem money laundering and terror financing. -- Abdullah, a former leader in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, won 45 percent of the vote in April while Ghani got 31.6 percent. -- But Ghani, an ethnic Pashtun, stands to gain more of the Pashtun vote that was splintered between candidates in the first round. Abdullah is part Pashtun but more closely identified with the ethnic Tajik minority. --- Below is a timeline of key events and brief biographies of the contenders. - More,

تاند - عبداله عبدالله امریکايي کمپنۍ دځان په ګټه تبلیغ ته ګومارلې -- دافغانستان دولسمشرۍ کاندید عبدالله عبدالله دجون د ۱۴ مې /جوزا۲۴مې/ تر دوهم ځلي انتخاباتو مخکې دامریکا دعامه اړیکو یوه کمپنۍ په پیسو ګومارلې ده چې دده لپاره تبلیغ وکړي چې ولسواکۍ، سولې، ثبات او آزادو او عادلانه انتخاباتو ته ژمن دی. دا خبره دې امریکايي کمپنۍ ( Sanitas International) افشا کړې او هغه فورمه یې هم څرګنده کړې چې دعبدالله عبدالله نوم او لاسلیک پرې لیدل کېږي.(د قرارداد فورمه) -- عبدالله عبدالله، چې دراتلونکې شنبې په ورځ د اشرف غني احمدزي په وړاندې په دوهم ځلي انتخاباتو کې مخامخ کېږي، په واشنګټن کې له مېشتې سنیتاز (Sanitas International) کمپنۍ سره خبرې کړي چې دده انتخاباتي کمپاین ته دلوړې سویې ارتباطي سلاکاران مهیا کړي. سنیتاز کمپنۍ له عبدالله عبدالله سره دقرارداد دشرایطو په اړه درسنیو ټېلفوني تماسونو او ایمیلونو ته ځواب نه دی ویلی. --- خو یوه امریکايي سوداګر، جوریچي (Joe Ritchie)، چې عبدالله عبدالله ته یې په انتخاباتي کمپاین کې سلامشورې ورکړي دي، وویل چې قرارداد محدوده ساحه ورنغاړي او هدف یې تر یوه حده دا دی چې د اپریل د پنځمې /حمل شپاړسمې/ نېټې د ولسمشرۍ د انتخاباتو په لومړي پړاو کې پر بې نظمیو او بې قاعدګیو تمرکز وشي. --- ده وویل:«هدف دا و چې په انتخاباتو کې پر بې نظمیو رڼا واچول شي او داسي وانګېرل شي چې عبدالله عبدالله په دې خاطر په لومړي پړاو کې بریالی نه شو چې لږې رایې یې ترلاسه کړې. بل دا چې هرڅوک په دې باوري شي چې تا (عبدالله) زیاتې رایې لرلې ځکه چا بې نظمیو ته پام ونه کړ. » -- سنیتاز دګڼو کاندیدانو دعامه اړیکو په برخه کې کار کړی دی. دې کمپنۍ دعرب دپسرلي په لړ کې دبحرین دحکومت پر ضد داعتراضونو په مهال ددغه هیواد لپاره کار کړی دی. دبحرین دڅارونکې ډلې (Bahrain Watch) په وینا سنیتاز کمپنۍ د۲۰۱۱ میلادي کال له اګست څخه د ۲۰۱۲ کال تر مارچ پوري دتبلیغاتو په بدل کې د بحرین له حکومته ډېرې پیسې ترلاسه کړې. - More, --

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Obama warns of U.S. action as jihadists push on Baghdad --- (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday threatened U.S. military strikes in Iraq against Sunni Islamist militants who have surged out of the north to menace Baghdad and want to establish their own state in Iraq and Syria. -- Iraqi Kurdish forces took advantage of the chaos to take control of the oil hub of Kirkuk as the troops of the Shi'ite-led government abandoned posts, alarming Baghdad's allies both in the West and in neighboring Shi'ite regional power Iran. -- "I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria," Obama said at the White House when asked whether he was contemplating air strikes. Officials later stressed that ground troops would not be sent in. -- Obama was looking at "all options" to help Iraq's leaders, who took full control when the U.S. occupation ended in 2011. "In our consultations with the Iraqis, there will be some short-term immediate things that need to be done militarily," he said. -- A U.S. defense official said the United States had been flying surveillance drones over Iraq to help it fight the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). --- The Wall Street Journal, which reported the flights had been taking place in small numbers since last year, quoted a senior U.S. official as saying the intelligence was shared with Iraqi forces. The official added: "It's not like it did any good." -- In his comments, Obama referred to long-standing U.S. complaints that Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had failed to do enough to heal a sectarian rift that has left many in the big Sunni minority, shut out of power when U.S. troops overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003, nursing grievances and keen for revenge. -- "This should be also a wakeup call for the Iraqi government. There has to be a political component to this," Obama said. -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden assured Maliki by telephone that Washington was prepared to intensify and accelerate its security support. The White House had signaled on Wednesday it was looking to strengthen Iraqi forces rather than meet what one U.S. official said were past Iraqi requests for air strikes. - More,

U.S. quietly moves detainees out of secretive Afghanistan prison --- (Reuters) - The Obama administration has quietly repatriated a dozen detainees from a small U.S. military prison in Afghanistan, moving a modest step closer toward winding down the United States' controversial post-9/11 detainee system. -- President Barack Obama, in a letter to Congress released on Thursday, informed U.S. lawmakers that about 38 non-Afghan prisoners remained at the Parwan detention center outside of Kabul, down from around 50 a few months ago. -- A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a Frenchman, a Kuwaiti and 10 Pakistani prisoners were sent back to their respective home countries at the end of May. --- The remaining detainees include Yemeni, Tunisian and more Pakistani nationals, and a Russian who the United States is also considering trying in a military or civilian court. -- The transfers, which are not publicly disclosed, underscore the challenges the Obama administration faces in shutting down Parwan and the larger U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been widely criticized by human rights groups since being populated in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. -- White House officials have sought to rebuff criticism of the decision last month to send five senior Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to Qatar in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier held by Taliban-linked militants in Pakistan. -- The Obama administration is slowly moving to transfer some inmates out of Guantanamo Bay, where about 150 inmates remain. Obama has renewed promises to close the prison despite long-standing congressional opposition. -- The non-Afghan prisoners at Parwan are the only detainees remaining in U.S. custody in Afghanistan after U.S. officials shifted hundreds of Afghan prisoners to Afghan government custody last year. - More, Missy Ryan,

Iraq shows 'responsible' U.S. exit strategy needed: Afghan frontrunner --- (Reuters) - The frontrunner in Afghanistan's presidential election said on Thursday he saw some similarities between his country's situation and violence-plagued Iraq that showed the need for a "responsible" U.S. military exit strategy. -- Abdullah Abdullah was asked in a teleconference with a Washington think-tank whether he was concerned about the U.S. "zero option" for Afghanistan and whether he would reopen discussions with Washington about its plan to withdraw all its troops from the country by the end of 2016. -- "I am not in a position to judge it at this stage," he said in response to a question from Kai Eide, the former U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, who asked if Abdullah thought the withdrawal should be based on security conditions. -- "But one thing I would emphasize is that hopefully 'zero option' will not mean zero cooperation." -- Asked whether he saw lessons from the insurgent violence in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011, Abdullah said: "There might be some common ingredients in both cases." --- Abdullah recalled the chaos caused by the Soviet Union's late-1980s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the U.S. disengagement from the guerrilla war that had toppled the Moscow-backed government. -- "(This) was one of the main reasons that led to the civil war here later on and al Qaeda taking roots here in our country and then the United States and the people suffered because it." -- Abdullah said it was important for the future Afghan government to pursue a policy of reconciliation with Taliban insurgents and avoid sectarian or ethnic discrimination. -- "If there is one lesson from what has happened in Iraq it is that the sectarian policies will not work anywhere. So building trust among the people will be important," he said. -- Abdullah said his government would make "open and genuine efforts" for peace, but would not sacrifice citizens' rights. He also stressed the need to protect women's rights denied by the Taliban. -- "Hopefully the other side which is fighting will also seize this moment," he said. - More,

Casey Kasem's daughter opens up about decision to withhold food, fluids from her dying dad --- Casey Kasem's daughter Kerri has revealed her decision to withhold medication, food and fluids from her dying dad was one of the hardest decisions she and her siblings have ever had to make. -- A judge in Los Angeles granted Kerri's request on Wednesday after initially ruling that Kasem, 82, should not be denied vital life-saving drugs and liquid as he battled sepsis, dementia and Parkinson's disease. -- And Kerri took to her Facebook page on Thursday to explain herself, writing, "Transitioning our father's treatment to comfort-oriented care was one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make. --- "For people who do not understand the natural dying process: Giving food and water to a dying body creates pain and further suffering. The body does not want or require food or water anymore in the dying process. My father can no longer digest foods and fluids fill his lungs up and will suffocate him." -- But she assures fans her father is on pain medication as the family prepares for his death in a Washington hospital. -- He is surrounded by family and close friends, and Kerri is hoping that her stepmother Jean and her daughter Liberty will join them for her father's final days. - More,

Afghans tighten security as Taliban threaten vote --- KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan police and soldiers manned checkpoints at almost every intersection Thursday, searching vehicles and frisking drivers in a massive security operation ahead of elections to choose a new president to guide the country after international combat forces withdraw. -- Insurgents fighting the Western-backed government have intensified attacks ahead of Saturday’s runoff vote, and the Taliban issued a new statement warning voters to stay away from the polls. The first round in April passed relatively peacefully, but a recent assassination attempt against one of the two presidential hopefuls left in the race has stoked fears of more violence to come. -- “The Islamic Emirate deems it necessary to alert the people and warn them for the last time that they should not participate in this American process, deliberately or inadvertently,” the Taliban said Wednesday in a statement posted online. -- Still, the senior U.N. envoy for Afghanistan expressed confidence Afghan voters would turn out as they did in the first round to decide their future by picking a new leader to oversee the transition after most U.S. and allied forces pull out by the end of this year. -- Jan Kubis, the U.N. secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, also called on the candidates to give electoral authorities time to tally the ballots — most of which will come from remote regions, often transported by donkeys — and resolve any complaints amid widespread fears of fraud. -- “Give a chance to due process, respect the work of the Commissions, don’t jump to conclusions,” he said. “Don’t make statements or comments in anticipation of the results. it will just mislead the people. control yourself, act as responsible politicians.” -- He was referring to the likelihood that the campaigns of front-runner Abdullah Abdullah, the target of last week’s attack, and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai will start releasing their internal tallies before formal results are announced. -- The official timetable is for preliminary results to be announced on July 2 and final results on July 22 in order to allow time for ballots to be secured and fraud complaints investigated. -- The stakes are high as the winner will replace President Hamid Karzai, a one-time U.S. ally whose relations with Washington have soured, in the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in the country’s history. -- Karzai has governed Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted following the U.S. invasion in 2001, and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. -- Karzai on Thursday called on Afghans to vote for the candidate of their choice in order to bring about a “stable, secure and developed future” for the war-ravaged country. -- “The security forces of our country are fully ready to ensure security with the help of you, the people, for the election,” he said in a statement. -- The Obama administration is watching closely. Both candidates have pledged to sign a security pact with the U.S. that would allow thousands of international forces to stay in Afghanistan in a largely training and advisory capacity. Karzai has refused to sign it. - More, Associated Press

Once an American professor, Ashraf Ghani is seeking the Afghan presidency, local-style --- KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The former American academic took the stage in a black turban, praising his Pashtun forefathers. Ashraf Ghani used to be one of the most prominent Afghan professionals in the United States. But now, as he runs for president of Afghanistan, he shrugs off his time as a World Bank executive and a professor at Johns Hopkins University. -- “I learned English only so I could satisfy the foreigners and defend our national interests,” Ghani told the sprawling Afghan meeting hall one recent afternoon. The crowd cheered. --- The victor in Saturday’s national election will assume power at a critical moment here — as Western troops withdraw and citizens wait to see whether the country is headed for reform or a descent into chaos. --- During a 2009 campaign, many deemed Ghani too Americanized and too academic to win the presidency in a country where tribal bona fides and war heroics are more significant than Ivy League PhDs. Those critics were proved right — Ghani won only 2.9 percent of the vote. -- But entering Saturday’s runoff election, Ghani has managed to draw support from across Afghanistan. In the first round of balloting, he won 31.5 percent of the vote, behind Abdullah Abdullah’s 44.5 percent. Now, Afghan voters will have to decide whether Ghani’s civilian credentials are more valuable than his competitor’s background. --- Abdullah’s rallies are full of cries of “Long live the mujahideen,” referring to the Afghan force that drove out the occupying Soviet army in the 1980s. Abdullah was a top aide to the iconic former rebel leader Ahmed Shah Massoud and went on to become foreign minister. -- Neither candidate has presented much in policy specifics, but both support signing a security agreement that would permit U.S. troops to remain here after 2014. --- Despite Abdullah’s growing momentum, Ghani has continued a grueling campaign of 12-hour days. He has played up his management experience and what he says is his ability to facilitate the flow of foreign aid to this country. But he is also focusing far more than he did in 2009 on wooing men who wield traditional power within their ethnic and tribal groups. --- Ghani was born to an influential family in eastern Logar province. He grew up in Kabul and attended high school there before leaving to attend the American University of Beirut. He later earned a PhD in anthropology at Columbia University in New York. -- After more than two decades in the United States, including a stint leading country strategy at the World Bank, he returned to Afghanistan in 2001 as an adviser to the United Nations and then became finance minister. He has since given up his U.S. citizenship. -- Ghani’s campaign reflects how much he has learned from his failure in 2009. Over the past five years, Ghani has crisscrossed Afghanistan as the manager of the country’s security transition — the process by which Afghan security forces inherited responsibility from U.S. and allied troops. That has endowed him with the kind of name recognition he did not have as finance minister, he says. -- Now, he peppers his speeches with references specific to each province. He knows where there are mineral deposits that could be extracted, fruit that could be exported, schools that must be reopened. -- “My job is to serve as a translator between my people and the world,” he said in an interview. “I’ve had to navigate these worlds . . . to reconcile what is seemingly irreconcilable.” --- In 2009, Ghani recruited Democratic strategist James Carville to help manage his campaign, a move that did not improve his image as a man without deep Afghan roots. This time, his team is full of young, Western-educated Afghans who update his Twitter and Facebook feeds. --- Ghani does not make specific references to ethnicity — still a delicate issue in Afghanistan after the civil war of the 1990s — but in Kandahar, he made repeated mention of Ahmad Shah Durrani and Mirwais Khan Hotak, prominent Pashtuns from the 17th and 18th centuries who played crucial roles in Afghanistan’s formation. --- Ghani says his campaign has been hampered by top police commanders who have actively campaigned for Abdullah and in some cases resorted to fraud to sway the results in the first round. He points to officials in Ghowr and Balkh provinces in particular as using their clout to influence the election results. -- “It’s a systematic bias,” he said. If the results are widely questioned, it could cause significant strife between the two camps and raise tensions in Afghanistan. --- Years ago, Ghani wrote about the problems facing the world’s least developed, most fractured nations in a book called “Fixing Failed States.” Ghani does not mention that book on the campaign trail. But if he wins, he may be able to translate the theory from his past life into the reality of his current one. - More, Kevin Sieff, Washingtonpost,

Court backs Musharraf’s bid to leave Pakistan --- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani court in Karachi ordered the removal of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf from the Exit Control List on Thursday, a move that lifts a ban against his travel abroad. -- The court gave the government 15 days to appeal the decision in the country’s Supreme Court, said Musharraf’s lawyer, Farogh Naseem. There was no immediate reaction from the government. -- “The court has ordered the government to lift the ban imposed on . . . Musharraf’s travel and asked for the removal of his name from ECL,” Naseem told reporters. -- “The court has ordered the government to lift the ban imposed on . . . Musharraf’s travel and asked for the removal of his name from ECL,” Naseem told reporters. -- Pakistan’s former military ruler has said he wants to visit his ailing mother, who is hospitalized in Dubai, but could not do so because of the travel ban. He flew to Karachi from Islamabad in April for medical tests and treatment. -- He was indicted in March by a court in the Pakistani capital on treason charges. Prosecutors accused Musharraf, 70, of subverting the constitution, illegally imposing emergency rule in 2007 and removing the country’s chief justice. If convicted, Musharraf faces a possibly death penalty or life imprisonment. -- Pakistan has been long dominated by the country’s powerful military, and Musharraf’s case is seen here as a test for the supremacy of civilian rule. -- Musharraf’s treason case has also sparked tensions between the country’s civilian rulers and the military leadership. Allowing Musharraf to travel abroad is widely seen as a possible way to ease those tensions. -- The government has opposed Musharraf’s petition, saying he wants to leave the country to avoid facing the treason charges along with other cases. He also faces charges related to the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. -- The court’s decision on Thursday led to jubilation among Musharraf’s loyalists and party workers. - Shaiq Hussain, Washingtonpost

Iraq disintegrating as insurgents advance; Kurds seize Kirkuk --- IRBIL, Iraq — Iraq was on the brink of disintegration Thursday as al-Qaeda-inspired fighters swept through northern Iraq toward Baghdad and Kurdish soldiers seized the city of Kirkuk without a fight. -- Lawmakers gathered at the Iraqi parliament to discuss the declaration of a state of emergency, a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured Iraqis that the insurgents’ gains were temporary and would soon be reversed by the Iraqi army. -- But after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured fresh territory and set its sights on Baghdad, Iraq seemed to be fast slipping out of government control. -- In Washington, President Obama expressed concern about the situation and said Iraq is “going to need more help from us” and from the international community. He said his administration was trying to determine the most effective type of assistance. -- “I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria,” Obama told reporters after a White House meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. -- “I think it’s fair to say that . . . there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily, and our national security team is looking at all the options,” he said. “But this should be also a wake-up call for the Iraqi government” about the need for political accommodation between the country’s Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunni minority, he added. -- Iraqi state television claimed that government forces recaptured the north-central city of Tikrit on Thursday, a day after ISIS said it seized the home town of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein. The group, an al-Qaeda offshoot, asserted, however, that it has completely surrounded the city of Samarra, south of Tikrit and just 70 miles north of Baghdad, leaving the situation on the ground unclear. -- The semiautonomous Kurdish government said its pesh merga forces took control of the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, after Iraqi security forces there fled rather than fight. The capture of Kirkuk follows the seizure by the (ISIS) on Monday of the important northern city of Mosul, putting northern Iraq beyond the central government’s authority. -- A top leader in ISIS, a radical Sunni Muslim group that U.S. forces spent eight years trying to defeat, urged fighters to press on to Baghdad, where he said there are “scores to be settled” with the Shiite-led government. - More, Washingtonpost

George H.W. Bush makes parachute jump to mark 90th birthday --- Former U.S. president George H.W. Bush has celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in Maine. -- The 41st president jumped out of a helicopter Thursday while harnessed to a retired member of the army's parachute team. -- He could be seen floating to the ground using a red, white and blue parachute. A spokesman says he landed safely and softly in Kennebunkport, out of the sight of reporters. -- With the jump, Bush made good on a promise from five years ago, when he also celebrated his birthday by skydiving. -- The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in the Second World War over the Pacific. -- Thursday marked his eighth jump. He can no longer use his legs because of a form of Parkinsonism. - More,

Technocrat to Populist, an Afghan Transformed --- KABUL, Afghanistan — When dealing with Western officials, Ashraf Ghani presents himself as the rare technocrat who possesses both the cultural savvy and practical expertise needed to put Afghanistan back on track if he is elected president in the runoff vote on Saturday. -- After all, as Mr. Ghani readily reminds people, he has written a book titled “Fixing Failed States.” -- But Afghan voters are less impressed by a doctorate from Columbia University, a 15-year stint at the World Bank and a penchant for conducting small talk in a vernacular best described as technocratese (think phrases like “consultative processes” and “cooperative frameworks”). The winners here are populists who cut deals with their enemies, win support from their rivals and appeal to Afghan national pride — a reality that Mr. Ghani appears to have finally embraced after years of inhabiting the role of pro-Western intellectual. -- Especially when addressing his fellow ethnic Pashtuns, Mr. Ghani, a former finance minister, has leavened his usual talk of detailed economic plans with statements about Afghans’ will to resist all who seek to oppress them, from Pakistan to the Taliban to the United States. --- At one rally in Kandahar, the heart of the Pashtun south and the city where the Taliban group was founded, he boasted about his role in securing the release of hundreds of insurgent suspects from what had been the main American prison in Afghanistan. The move infuriated American officials, but Mr. Ghani promised that it was just the beginning. -- “We will release more prisoners,” he said. “We will not allow prisoners to be used as a business commodity,” he added, in an apparent reference to negotiations with the United States over their fate. -- The transformation of Mr. Ghani into something akin to an Afghan populist is perhaps the most surprising story line in the Afghan presidential campaign, and he is heading into the runoff this weekend in what some observers believe is a dead heat with his rival, Abdullah Abdullah. -- “He’s thought deeply about what kind of presidency he would like to create,” said Clare Lockhart, a former colleague of Mr. Ghani’s who helped him write the book on failed states. “In general, his commitment is to have a much more shared sense of governance.” -- A year ago, it was hard to imagine that Mr. Ghani would make it this far. He won a mere 2.9 percent of the vote during his first run at the presidency, in 2009, and before the recent campaign, many here gave him long odds of doing much better this year. --- Common themes emerged in interviews with Afghans at the time: Mr. Ghani was widely described as being too focused on policy problems and lacking a natural constituency or a common touch. Many described his temper as both short and hot, and his outbursts had alienated many powerful people during his stints as finance minister and, more recently, as President Hamid Karzai’s lead adviser on the transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces from the Americans. -- Even his supporters acknowledge that he can be difficult, though some try to spin his off-putting side as a positive. “He can be disempowering because he can be so smart,” said one close associate who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Mr. Ghani. --- Foreign diplomats joked that Mr. Ghani would win if the only voters were foreign diplomats. And yet they, too, complained about what they described as his curt manner and unwillingness to compromise on issues that he believes he knows better than others. -- “He’s been more than willing to give us the back of his hand,” was how one American diplomat recently put it. --- To that, Mr. Ghani said he did so only when he had good reason. He knows the West too well to let American and European officials dictate how Afghanistan should be run, he said in an interview. --- The son of an official in the government of Afghanistan’s last king, Zahir Shah, Mr. Ghani, 65, was first introduced to the United States as a high school exchange student in Oregon. There, he also got his first taste of democracy. “There was a student council, and it had money and decision-making power!” he recalled. -- He later attended the American University of Beirut, where he met his future wife, Rula, a Lebanese Christian, before earning a doctorate in anthropology and international studies from Columbia. -- He eventually took a senior role at the World Bank, settling in the Washington area and becoming an American citizen in 1990. (He gave up his United States passport in 2009 to run for president.) --- He returned to Afghanistan in December 2001 and soon became the finance minister in Mr. Karzai’s new government. In the next years, he managed a huge influx of aid, winning praise from Western officials for doing so without bringing on high inflation. He also devised a large-scale antipoverty program and helped restore a single currency in Afghanistan, where warlords had printed their own bills during the civil war and the Taliban era. --- A security deal needs to be signed with the United States, and “the economy is imploding,” Mr. Ghani said. “The cost of corruption for the public has been estimated to be at least twice that of national revenue.” -- It is “not a moment for modest aims,” he said, adding, “I have the experience, I have the vision and I have the credibility.” - More, MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NYTimes,

White House adopts steps to avoid snafus such as naming of CIA chief in Kabul --- (Reuters) - The White House said on Wednesday it has put corrective measures in place in response to the accidental public outing of the CIA station chief's name during President Barack Obama's trip to Afghanistan late last month. -- During the trip, personnel at Bagram Air Base gave to White House communications personnel at list of people who were meeting Obama. The White House gave the list to reporters covering the trip and among the names was that of the CIA official. -- White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, was briefed on Tuesday night by White House counsel Neil Eggleston on the results of a probe into the case and offered some recommendations to fix the problem, which were adopted. -- The corrective measures, which Obama was briefed on, include: -- From now on before any Obama international trip, White House scheduling and advance staff will conduct a briefing in each country to make clear to officials that names of people Obama will be meeting will be released to the press and give them an opportunity to raise concerns. -- The White House press advance staffer will clear the names of meeting participants with White House National Security Council staff prior to the distribution of those names and titles to the news media. -- The White House scheduling staff and communications staff will receive additional training to enhance awareness and improve handling of sensitive information. -- Earnest, asked if any punishments had been meted out as a result of the publication of the CIA official's name, said, "Not that I have to report in this context." -- He said the probe into the case had not been an effort to isolate specific wrongdoing because the disclosure was inadvertent. -- Earnest briefed reporters while Obama attended a Democratic fundraiser in Weston, Massachusetts. -- Steve Holland,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Afghanistan economy under the gun as bank blacklist looms --- (Reuters) - The most pressing challenge awaiting Afghanistan's new leader may not be the worsening violence, fractured U.S. relationship or declining aid, but an international blacklist hanging over the country's banks. -- At issue: Afghan banks' failure to do enough to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. -- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international money laundering watchdog, says Afghanistan has failed to implement its recommendations and will be blacklisted unless laws that meet global norms are passed before it meets on June 23-27. -- This could cut off its banks from the global financial system, disrupting up to $10 billion worth of annual imports by the time the next president takes power. -- If the blacklist is enforced, all sectors of the aid-dependent economy will be put under further strain, market players say. "The Afghan economy will be in crisis. It would seriously affect traders, government revenue and even employment," said Afghan International Bank's CEO, Khalil Sediq. -- The new laws are being rushed through parliament but even if both houses pass them in time, outgoing President Hamid Karzai seems likely to block their passage, according to banking executives who met him recently. -- "The president does not want any changes to the law," said one CEO who attended the closed-door meeting. "He believes this threat of blacklisting is another ploy by the West and the U.S. to put pressure on Afghanistan." -- A spokeswoman for Karzai's office declined to provide details from the meeting but said the president's decision would be made in the national interest. -- Karzai's final months in power have been marked by a growing hostility towards the United States, particularly his refusal to sign a security deal allowing U.S. troops to stay in the country beyond a 2014 deadline for foreign combat troops to leave. -- The drawdown of foreign forces coincides with an upsurge in insurgent attacks over the past 18 months. -- The last two men in the race to succeed Karzai have vowed to repair international ties, including signing the bilateral security agreement, but the final results of the second round will not emerge until late July at the earliest - over a month past the FATF deadline. -- Afghanistan's nascent economy is already under massive stress, with domestic revenue down sharply this year, and international institutions forecasting GDP growth to fall from a high of about 14 percent in 2012 to about 3.2 percent in 2014. -- At the same time, foreign donors, who fund the lion's share of the budget, are pulling back amid concerns over rampant government corruption and growing insecurity as foreign combat forces pack their bags. --- WESTERN BANKS PULL BACK - Many Western banks already refuse to deal with Afghanistan because of weak regulation, fearing they may inadvertently be embroiled in money laundering or terrorist financing. -- Afghan banks route payments through Turkey or China instead, but this loophole has been gradually closing since FATF downgraded Afghanistan to "dark grey" in February. -- Turkish banks have moved to close Afghan accounts and last month Chinese banks halted dollar transactions with most Afghan banks for reasons that remain unclear. -- Chinese banks had been used as a gateway by Afghan banks to process dollar transactions with other parts of the world to pay for imports of everything from household goods to industrial machinery to university tuition. - More,

Defiant Hagel says: I took Bowe Bergdahl security risks 'damn seriously' --- US defense secretary Chuck Hagel forcefully rejected criticism for trading five Taliban leaders for army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in a combative appearance before a congressional committee on Wednesday. -- Hagel aggressively and at times angrily defended the trade, saying he took its risks "damn seriously" and making conspicuous reference to his Vietnam combat experience. -- "I would never sign off on any decision that I did not feel was in the best interests of this country. Nor would the president of the United States, who made the final decision with the full support of his national security team," Hagel said in front of a phalanx of uniformed officers. -- The deal ended the five-year captivity of the only US prisoner in the Afghanistan war in exchange for five senior Taliban held at Guantánamo Bay. Criticism of the deal and the lack of legally required congressional notification around it, almost all from Republicans, has sparked nearly two weeks of outrage. -- But any hope the Obama administration had of tamping down the political fire over the trade seemed to evaporate during the hearing. -- Hagel, who was at times as dismissive of his critics as they were of him, described an extraordinary process of secret back-channel negotiations brokered by Qatar, fueled by fears about risks to the life or health of the only US prisoner of war in Afghanistan after five years of captivity, culminating with a 12 May agreement with the Qataris to take custody of the Taliban detainees -- But Hagel, who said Congress now has the terms of the agreement, insisted the trade was not firm until the day the US took custody of Bergdahl. That has been the crux of the rationale the Obama administration has offered for not informing Congress about taking the five detainees out of Guantánamo, a violation of a law Congress passed to hinder the administration's ability to close the detention facility. -- "The exchange needed to take place quickly, efficiently and quietly," Hagel said, saying that the "exceptional circumstances" of the trade justified violating the notification requirement. -- "We did not know until the moment sergeant Bergdahl was handed over safely to US special operations forces that the Taliban would hold up their end of the deal. So it wasn’t until we recovered Bergdahl on May 31 that we moved ahead with the transfer of the five Guantánamo detainees." - More, Spencer Ackerman in New York, Guardian

Afghan interpreters to challenge UK over benefits and resettlement terms --- Three former interpreters employed by the British armed forces in Afghanistan, whose lives are said to be in danger, have won permission to bring a high-court challenge against the government over the assistance they have been offered. -- A judge has ruled it arguable that they had been "unlawfully treated differently" from Iraqi interpreters who also needed assistance through benefits and resettlement packages when their lives became endangered through assisting the British in the Iraq war. -- Mr Justice Mitting, sitting in London, said the case should go to a full hearing at which the government would be likely to have to justify any difference in treatment received by the interpreters. -- He said the government could "well succeed in doing so, but that is a matter to be pursued at the full hearing and not at this stage". -- The ruling on Wednesday was a victory for three claimants, Afghan nationals Mohammed Rafi Hotak and AP, who are now in the UK, and AL, who remains in Afghanistan. The identities of AL and AP are being kept secret to protect them and their families from the Taliban, who regard them as "infidel spies". - Press Association, Guardian

As Cantor announces exit from GOP House leadership, the jockeying begins --- House Republicans on Wednesday plunged into a regional and ideological struggle over the prospect of new leadership, with a flash campaign for top jobs that will echo the internal battles that have roiled the national GOP for the past five years. --- Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Wednesday that he was stepping down from his role as majority leader after an embarrassing primary defeat Tuesday night. His statement prompted GOP lawmakers of various ideological stripes to launch bids to succeed the onetime rising star, who had become the heir apparent to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). -- From phone calls to text messages to e-mails to secret meetings, fault lines quickly developed inside an already fractured caucus that has grown increasingly conservative since the 2010 elections swept Republicans into control of the House. -- After an emotional meeting with GOP lawmakers, Cantor threw his “full support” behind his longtime lieutenant, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a genial 49-year-old with close ties to many members of the huge 2010 class. A strong fundraiser, McCarthy represents the conservative establishment within the party. -- Immediately, he faced a threat from a pair of conservative Texas chairmen — Reps. Jeb Hensarling, head of the Financial Services Committee, and Pete Sessions, head of the Rules Committee. A onetime member of ­leadership, Hensarling has emerged as the choice of conservatives who have cheered his battles with Boehner and Cantor over issues such as flood insurance laws and reauthorization of the ­Export-Import Bank. -- Should McCarthy win, a similar battle is set to play out to fill his No. 3 slot in leadership. -- That battle is likely to carry regional overtones, pitting Southern members against those from the Midwest. - More, Washingtonpost,

Insurgents in northern Iraq seize key cities, advance toward Baghdad --- IRBIL, Iraq — Insurgents inspired by al-Qaeda rapidly pressed towards Baghdad on Wednesday, confronting little resistance from Iraq’s collapsing security forces and expanding an arc of control that now includes a wide swath of the country. -- By nightfall, the militants had reached the flashpoint city of Samarra, just 70 miles outside Baghdad, after having first seized Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, and other cities while pressing southward from Mosul. -- The stunning speed with which the rout has unfolded in northern Iraq has raised deep doubts about the capacity of U.S. -trained Iraqi security forces, and it has also kindled fears about the government’s grip on the capital itself. -- In a country already fraught with sectarian tension, with parts of western Iraq already in Sunni militant hands, the latest gains by insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria prompted ominous cries of alarm from leaders of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority. -- It appeared that the militants were facing more robust resistance as they moved south, where Iraq’s Shiites have a stronger presence. But several experts said that it would be wrong to assume that heavily fortified Baghdad, with its large Shiite population and concentration of elite forces, could easily fend off an ISIS attack. -- Baghdad is “definitely vulnerable,” said Raoul Alcala, a former U.S. adviser to Iraq’s national security council who has spent most of the past decade in Iraq. “There are more troops in Baghdad, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t porous.’’ -- A separate analysis posted on the Web site of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said insurgents advancing from the north could link up with counterparts on the city’s perimeter to pose a real threat to the capital. -- For his part, the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, insisted for a second straight day that security forces were capable of reversing the militants’ gains. In a televised address to the nation, he pledged that Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, which fell to insurgents overnight Monday, would soon be back in government hands. -- “This is just the latest round of fighting against ISIS, and it won’t be the last,” he said. --- In Washington, the State Department said the United States is “expediting” the delivery of critical weaponry to the Maliki government but gave few details. “You can expect that we will provide additional assistance to the Iraqi government to combat the threat,” said Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman. -- Among those caught up in the fighting were dozens of Turkish citizens, including some diplomats, who were being detained by militants during attacks in Mosul that included a strike on the Turkish consulate there. -- The conflict in the city, which began Monday evening, has sent hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing, many into the safety of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Civilians fleeing from Mosul gave an insight into why ISIS has been able to gain such a strong foothold in the Sunni-majority city, where anti-government sentiment is high. - More, Washingtonpost

Nadir Naim's Speech/Press Conference Gathering 7/07/2014 --- I, having been an independent political figure, in view of association with “The Voice of People” and recognizing the principle of political independence and respecting wisdom and selection in election ticket, during the second round of election campaign, believe that: Members of my election ticket, being practicing citizen of the country, with their own political free-will, and with expectation that they exercise utmost diligence and consult with the leadership of “The Voices of People” and take him into confidence, can join either of the two presidential candidates in a transparent manner. In light of the positive participation of the Afghan nation on the first round of the election that took place on 14 May 2014, I do not wish to have a vague opinion about endorsement by our election ticket or to obstruct their support for any of the two candidates as a core principle of democracy. --- I hope that these endorsements and alliances happen in the absence of favoritism, tribal hegemony, and opportunism and that this does not threaten the process of our new found democracy. -- I hope that the cadre of our team join the political campaign whose leadership and political leaders have correctly identified and incorporated into their manifesto human and economic resources of our country, which are key ingredients for a successful system. -- I hope that the second round of election results in people choosing an active leader, a man of proven practical prowess and with an efficient and capable team. --- I, as an independent citizen of this great nation, and having kept the tradition of my forefathers, will cast my vote to the candidate of my choice in accordance with precise understanding of the ongoing situation. Whomever, the Afghan nation chooses as the their leader in a transparent manner, shall have my full endorsement. - More, Nadir Naim,

THE EDITORIAL BOARD -- Student Borrowers and the Economy --- President Obama took an important step this week when he signed an executive order providing relief to millions of struggling student loan borrowers and urged Congress to pass a student loan refinancing bill that is scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Wednesday. Both the executive order and the refinancing bill speak to a grave problem that has trapped recent college graduates and threatens the long-term health of the economy. -- This problem has its roots in the financial crisis, which destroyed trillions of dollars in household savings and home equity that families might otherwise have used to pay for college. (Even before the recession, the state colleges, which educate about 70 percent of the nation’s students, reacted to state budget cuts by raising tuition.) With no other choice, students and their families financed college by relying more heavily on student loans. According to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student debt has doubled since 2007 and now stands at about $1.2 trillion. -- Stagnant wages and a tough job market have made it difficult for borrowers to repay these debts. According to federal statistics, for example, about seven million of the nation’s 40 million student loan borrowers are in default. The people in this large and growing pariah class have difficulty getting jobs or credit, or renting apartments. But borrowers who narrowly earn enough to make loan payments are not much better off; they have to put off car purchases and bunk with their parents because they can’t afford rents, and they can’t even begin to think about saving for retirement. -- As an official from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau told a Senate hearing earlier this month, student debt is having a kind of “domino effect,” damaging other areas of the economy. And unless federal policy makers intervene in a muscular way, this generation of student borrowers could become a long-term drag on the economy. -- The executive order signed on Monday will help up to five million student loan borrowers. It will expand access to the federal government’s Pay as You Earn program, which allows borrowers to arrange affordable payments and qualify for loan forgiveness. It requires the Department of Education to evaluate more stringently how well the companies that collect federal loans keep borrowers out of default. Most significantly, it requires the department to help people who have defaulted rehabilitate their records through a program allowing lower payments. -- Homeowners, businesses and individuals can take advantage of low interest rates to refinance their debts. Student borrowers, however, have few such options. The Senate bill, known as the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, would create a fund — paid for by a new minimum tax on millionaires and billionaires — that would be used to help people with federal or private student loans refinance those loans at lower interest rates. -- The bill might pass the Senate, but House Republicans will oppose any such tax. Still, by bringing the matter to a vote, Senate Democrats underscore the need to do something about dire indebtedness among recent graduates, and also give members of their party a potent issue on which to run in the midterm elections. Even if the refinancing bill were to become law, it would represent only part of the solution. To get a handle on this problem, Congress needs to reconfigure the student aid system to prevent the most vulnerable student borrowers from falling too deeply into debt in the first place. - More, NYTimes,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Project Eavesdrop: An Experiment At Monitoring My Home Office --- If someone tapped your Internet connection, what would they find out about you? --- It's been just over a year since Edward Snowden became a household name, and his disclosures about the reach and extent of the National Security Agency's online monitoring programs led to headlines around the world. -- But one big, basic question remains more or less unanswered: What exactly does the NSA's surveillance reveal? -- To try to answer that question, I had my home office bugged. -- Working with Sean Gallagher, a reporter at the technology site Ars Technica, and Dave Porcello, a computer security expert at Pwnie Express, I had the Internet traffic into and out of my home office in Menlo Park, Calif., tapped. We installed something called a Pwn Plug to monitor the data flowing to and from my computer and mobile phone. -- The box is a little wireless router that basically captures and copies all the traffic into and out of any device that connects to it. That data were sifted and analyzed by software automatically. -- So for a little more than a week, Porcello and Gallagher stepped into the role of NSA analysts and spied on my work. --- What Happened? -- Back in early April I ushered Gallagher into my office, and together we connected my own personal Pwn Plug to my home network. -- When my iPhone connected to the network, suddenly a torrent of data began flowing over the line. Porcello was monitoring my traffic in his office across the country in Vermont. -- "Oh, jeez," he said. "You are not opening apps or anything?" -- The iPhone was just sitting on my desk — I wasn't touching it. We watched as my iPhone pinged servers all over the world. -- "It's just thousands and thousands of pages of stuff," Porcello said. -- My iPhone sent Yahoo my location data as unencrypted text. The phone connected to NPR for email. It pinged Apple, then Google. There was a cascade of bits. -- Over the next couple of weeks, Porcello and his colleague Oliver Weis — who goes by the name Awk — dug through those thousands of packets. -- "A lot of times it's pretty easy to identify not only the type of device but the person," Weis says. "How many people's iPhones are named Steve's iPhone?" -- And it wasn't hard to narrow which Steve at NPR (deduced thanks to the ping to NPR's mail) because the weather app pinpointed my location to Menlo Park. -- In seconds, anyone watching would know I am not Steve Inskeep. I am Steve Henn. -- "That's really the mind-blowing thing about this," Weis said. "People are walking around every day with these mobile computers in their pockets, and they have no idea what they are sending to the world." ---- Could The NSA Do This Legally? -- If the NSA were monitoring me this way, would it be legal? The short answer is, it depends. - More, NPR,

White House suggests Bergdahl deal could help restart Afghan peace talks --- The White House on Monday suggested a fresh justification for the controversial prisoner swap it made to secure the freedom of US army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, hinting that the deal may help restart broader Afghan peace talks as officials mounted a second attempt to win over sceptical members of Congress. -- Though US negotiators deliberately separated their talks over the release of Bergdahl from wider political discussions, the administration said it was hopeful that goodwill the negotiations about his release generated with the Taliban may have a knock-on impact. -- “The goal of this recent effort was to secure the release of Sergeant Bergdahl – that was achieved – if that paves the way and builds a little trust and creates some space to enhance or restart negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government and there is a role for the United States, then we will welcome that opportunity,” said Obama spokesman Josh Earnest. -- The deal to swap Bergdahl for five Taliban fighters who’d been held at Guantánamo Bay has generated a storm of criticism in Washington, where critics have accused the White House of encouraging further kidnappings of US soldiers and questioned whether Bergdahl was a deserter. -- But after a week of standing firm against the criticism, the administration appears to be expanding the list of reasons it includes in its public explanations for the deal – even suggesting it might help eventually break diplomatic deadlock in Afghanistan, though acknowledging it is too soon to tell. -- “Common sense does indicate that because there is ongoing armed conflict in Afghanistan, there is an incentive for both sides to resolve their differences,” Earnest told reporters at a White House briefing on Monday. -- “Whether they can do that remains to be seen: the odds of that are difficult and long. If there is a process that has begun here it will be a painstaking one and not one that is resolved overnight but if we can build some trust and this does create an opportunity for more fruitful conversations so be it.” -- The White House is dispatching some of its most senior military, diplomatic and intelligence officials to Capitol Hill Monday afternoon for a classified briefing for members of the House of Representatives as part of another attempt to quell the firestorm. -- The meeting will be similar to the classified briefing provided to sceptical senators last week. Many of those senators emerged unconvinced about the wisdom of a prisoner swap they believed endangered the lives of Americans. -- The officials slated to brief members of the House on Monday are deputy national security advisor Tony Blinken; ambassador James Dobbins, the state department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral James Winnefeld. -- Robert Cardillo, a deputy director at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will also be in attendance. - More, Guardian,

Hyperthyroidism: What is Hyperthyroidism? --- The term hyperthyroidism refers to any condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone produced in the body. In other words, the thyroid gland is overactive. Another term that you might hear for this problem is thyrotoxicosis, which refers to high thyroid hormone levels in the blood stream, irrespective of their source. --- Symptoms: What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism? -- Thyroid hormone plays a significant role in the pace of many processes in the body. These processes are called your metabolism. If there is too much thyroid hormone, every function of the body tends to speed up. It is not surprising then that some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are nervousness, irritability, increased perspiration, heart racing, hand tremors, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, thinning of your skin, fine brittle hair and weakness in your muscles—especially in the upper arms and thighs. You may have more frequent bowel movements, but diarrhea is uncommon. You may lose weight despite a good appetite and, for women, menstrual flow may lighten and menstrual periods may occur less often. Since hyperthyroidism increases your metabolism, many individuals initially have a lot of energy. However, as the hyperthyroidism continues, the body tends to break down, so being tired is very common. -- Hyperthyroidism usually begins slowly but in some young patients these changes can be very abrupt. At first, the symptoms may be mistaken for simple nervousness due to stress. If you have been trying to lose weight by dieting, you may be pleased with your success until the hyperthyroidism, which has quickened the weight loss, causes other problems. - More, American Thyroid Association,

Rand study tries to focus on lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, but what have we learned? --- What lessons should we have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan? -- Put in current terms: Who wants to forecast the ultimate result of U.S. commitments to increasing military and economic support for selected insurgents in Syria and the new government of President Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine? -- President Obama, backed by Congress, is making these critical moves. -- My questions about it all arose while I was reading a Rand Corp. paper released Thursday: “Initial Thoughts on the Impact of the Iraq War on U.S. National Security Structures.” -- The United States, along with several allied countries, supported insurgents in Afghanistan in the 1980s who overthrew a Soviet-installed regime. Then Washington walked away. By 2001, Afghanistan was ruled by an extremist Taliban regime, supportive of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. -- After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, the United States collaborated with some Afghan insurgents to oust the Taliban, and with other countries helped establish what was hoped to be a more democratic government. This time we stayed. -- In 2003, Washington led another military coalition that ended the Iraqi dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and sought to install a more democratic system in Baghdad. -- By 2005, the United States found itself trying to remake the Kabul and Baghdad governments while fighting insurgents in both countries. In Iraq, about 4,500 Americans were killed and 32,000 wounded with direct costs of about $830 billion — plus billions more to come from veterans’ benefits. Afghanistan has seen 2,200 killed and 19,600 wounded, with a cost exceeding $700 billion and counting. -- The two commitments expanded far beyond what was contemplated. --- In Syria, the United States is again working with a group of nations in support of insurgents. But what will be Washington’s responsibility if Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is forced out and a new government emerges in Damascus? In Ukraine, we are giving support to its new government, which is facing armed, pro-Russian insurgents. Obama has offered financial support and recently announced $5 million worth of body armor and night-vision goggles to go along with already provided ready-to-eat meals and funds for non-lethal assistance — including clothing, sleeping bags and generators. -- What’s next for the United States in Syria and Ukraine? --- As the Rand paper points out, U.S. intervention, whether supporting insurgents or countering them, lead to unintended consequences. Speaking of support to Syrian groups fighting Assad’s forces, the Rand paper says, “It remains to be seen how far the lessons of fighting insurgents [as was done eventually in Iraq and is being done in Afghanistan] will go when it comes to the task of helping them topple their government.” -- The Rand paper focuses on several issues, starting with counterinsurgency operations. -- Whatever the U.S. military learned in the 1960s and 1970s in Vietnam about fighting insurgents was forgotten, requiring almost five years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq for the adoption of Gen. David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency doctrines. Transferred to Afghanistan, forms of the doctrines have become basic to the military. - More, Walter Pincus, Washingtonpost,

Five U.S. troops killed in Afghan friendly-fire incident --- (Reuters) - Five U.S. servicemen were killed in southern Afghanistan in a friendly-fire air strike during a security operation, Afghan police and the Pentagon said on Tuesday, days before a run-off round in the country's presidential election. -- The men died on Monday in Zabul province's Arghandab district when their unit, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), clashed with insurgents. -- Local police chief Ghulam Sakhi Roghlewanai said: "The five killed were American soldiers who just returned from an operation when they were hit. -- "ISAF troops were returning to their bases after an operation when they were ambushed by the insurgents. The air strike mistakenly hit their own forces and killed the soldiers." -- A Pentagon statement said investigators were "looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen." -- A spokesman for the Islamist Taliban, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said insurgents had been attacking the foreign forces when the helicopters intervened and accidentally killed their own troops. -- Taliban insurgents, meanwhile, kidnapped 35 professors from Kandahar University after stopping their van on the highway linking the southern province and Kabul, a spokesman for provincial governor said. -- "The professors were on their way to the capital when they were abducted and tribal elders are now involved in negotiating with the Taliban," Dawa Khan Minapal said by telephone. -- The Taliban, removed from power by a U.S.-led drive into Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks, is on an offensive ahead of the planned withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of 2014. -- Security is being ramped up in Afghanistan ahead of Saturday's run-off vote to replace President Hamid Karzai. -- The poll pits Abdullah Abdullah, a former leader of the opposition to the Taliban, against former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Michael E. O'Hanlon -- U.S. Should Preserve Its Partnership with Afghanistan --- How can anyone possibly argue that President Obama’s plan to have all operational U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan by the end of his presidency is a mistake? By then, Obama will have presided over eight years of military engagement there, on top of President Bush’s 7½. The effort will be far and away the United States’ longest war, whether one defines the endpoint as December’s termination of NATO’s combat operation or as the 2016 completion of the follow-on mission that will begin immediately thereafter. --- The problem with this way of thinking is in the premise. We should not think about Afghanistan, at this point, as a war to end but as a partnership to preserve. For that large majority of Americans tired of this war, and uninterested in further nation-building in the Hindu Kush, the best motivator might not be the modest help in air power or intelligence that Afghan forces — already doing 95 percent of the fighting and dying in defense of their country — might need after 2016. Rather, the best argument is a more nationalistic one about U.S. national security. Without bases in Afghanistan, from where will we fly drones or stage commando raids to monitor, target and occasionally kill any al-Qaeda forces that take sanctuary in eastern Afghanistan or western Pakistan? -- Talk of U.S.-Afghan partnership may sound bizarre to many American ears. To be sure, it has been an asymmetric partnership to date, with the United States and its allies pumping in billions of dollars, suffering thousands of fatalities and often being rewarded with seeming insolence from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, as well as a culture of corruption within Afghanistan and an enduring resilience from the Taliban. --- But we have been here before. The best analogy may be Korea. After three years of frustrating conflict in the early 1950s, we secured a mediocre outcome in the form of a cease-fire that left the North Korean regime intact. And our partner in the effort was a highly corrupt, nondemocratic South Korean state that did not hold elections until the 1980s. By comparison, for all its flaws, Afghanistan is a better polity, with an electoral process underway that by later this summer will replace Karzai with a new leader in the country’s first-ever peaceful transfer of power via the ballot box. The two possible winners, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, are both superior in integrity and competence to most early leaders of the Republic of Korea. -- Yet for all of South Korea’s flaws, in 1953 we did not think of an exit strategy as the key metric of success. U.S. national security was the crucial goal, and U.S. forces settled down to a long, patient, generally nonviolent mission to attain this objective. Initially, we deployed more than 50,000 troops, and gradually reduced that to around 40,000 in the latter Cold War decades. The figure is just under 30,000 today. --- In Afghanistan, thankfully, no one is clamoring for a force totaling anything close to these numbers. For all the Taliban’s resilience, it is much weaker than the North Korean regime ever was, and any al-Qaeda targets that develop in years to come will likely be modest in size and number. But as Obama rightly observed in his West Point speech last month, terrorism still represents the most acute threat to U.S. security. While al-Qaeda affiliates in places such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Nigeria are serious concerns, the terrorist syndicate’s potential to use sanctuaries in South Asia remains considerable. Affiliates such as the Haqqani network in North Waziristan (and perhaps also the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba with its ambitions of provoking Indo-Pakistani war) remain serious worries. --- Against this threat, there is no alternative but to have bases in eastern and southern Afghanistan — certainly at least one, ideally two or three. These facilities can be located within 50 to 200 miles of the locations we need to monitor, within practical operational range of modern unmanned systems. The plausible alternatives are not realistic at all — to operate manned or unmanned aircraft from carriers in the Indian Ocean, more than 500 miles away. For all our successes against al-Qaeda in recent years and the associated decline in the recent rate of drone strikes, there is no indication that this threat will simply disappear in 2016 to suit Obama’s desire to have ended two wars on his watch in the White House. -- Yes, retaining some 3,000 U.S. personnel in Afghanistan for five, 10 or even 20 years after 2016 could cost us some $5 billion a year and occasionally involve U.S. casualties. But that’s life in the age of terror. And compared with our recent mission costs of more than $100 billion a year and hundreds of fatalities, or the overall defense budget exceeding $500 billion annually, it is a bearable price compared with the possibility of al-Qaeda again mounting an attack from a South Asian sanctuary against the United States. - This opinion originally appeared in The Washington Post. --

حامد کرزی در آینده چی نقش را ایفا خواهد کرد؟ --- حامد کرزی در هفته های آینده بعد از دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری روز شنبه از قدرت کنار خواهد رفت که به این ترتیب راه برای انتقال دیموکراتیک قدرت در افغانستان فراهم می شود. پایان این انتخابات آغاز کار یک حکومت جدید در افغانستان بعد از سیزده سال حاکمیت حامد کرزی در این کشور خواهد بود که به حمایت امریکا، به دنبال سقوط طالبان در سال 2001 میلادی به قدرت رسید. -- اکنون روابط کرزی با امریکا تقریباً از بین رفته، رژیم او به فساد گسترده اداری متهم شده و افغانستان در آستانه خروج نیرو های ناتو و کاهش کمک های بین المللی تا هنوز به تهدید های شورشیان مسلح رو به رو است. -- بیتی دام نویسندهء هالندی که برای نوشتن کتاب اش با حامد کرزی مصاحبه انجام داده می گوید، او در تلاش جستجوی راه های است تا نفوذش را گسترش دهد و به افراد شبکه خود کمک کند که در قدرت باقی بمانند. خانم دام گفت که اکثر والی ها و مقامات حکومتی در این مورد با حامد کرزی در تماس اند. حامد کرزی زمانیکه به حیث رئیس جمهور افغانستان تعیین شد، 44 سال عمر داشت. صحبت فصیح وی به زبان انگلیسی، چپن و کلاه پوست قره قلی اش توجه رهبران جهان را جلب نمود و او توانست که بعد از یازدهم سپتمبر ایالات متحده امریکا را قناعت دهد که می تواند یک شریک خوبِ امریکا در مبارزه با شورشیان اسلامگرا باشد. اما به خاطر ادامه فعالیت شورشیان در بیش از یک دهه، افزایش تلفات و مصرف غیرمثمر ملیارد ها دالر کمک جامعه جهانی این جذابیت او دیگر ادامه نیافت. -- اکنون بعد از دو دوره کارش به نظر می رسد که او آماده است باز هم نقشِ را در حکومت و جامعه افغانستان داشته باشد. اما اینکه حامد کرزی چه نقش را ایفا خواهد کرد، بیشتر به جانشین او تعلق می گیرد. -- ایمل فیضی سخنگوی حامد کرزی به خبرگزاری فرانس پرس گفت: "حامد کرزی به حیث یک رئیس جمهور متقاعد و یک تبعه عادی افغانستان در خدمت مردم و اگر از وی خواهش شود در خدمت رئیس جمهور آینده خواهد بود." -- پوهاند ودیر صافی استاد حقوق و علوم سیاسی پوهنتون کابل در صحبت با رادیو آزادی گفت که حامد کرزی در جلسه با اشتراک استادان پوهنتون نیز گفت که می خواهد به حیث مشاور با رئیس جمهور آینده کار کند: "او تلاش می کند که به نحوه از انواع در یک بخشی از قدرت باقی بماند و هم چنان اشاره کرد که می خواهد مشاور رئیس جمهور آینده باشد. رول را که او می خواهد ادا کند، چنان که آوازه است، مشاور رئیس جمهور در بخش مذاکرات صلح با طالبان می باشد." حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان در ماه دیسمبر گذشته به مخاطبین خود در هند گفت، او می خواهد یک تبعه عادی باشد تا بتواند به طور آزاد گشت و گذار کند. - رادیو آزادی

Op-Ed Contributor -- Kabul’s City on the Hill --- KABUL, Afghanistan — Just south of the city center is the most famous of Kabul’s many dun-colored mountains. It is called TV Hill, after the telecom and broadcast antennas that crowd its peak like needles in a pincushion. One of the most visible signs of the Western presence in Afghanistan, it is hailed as a symbol of post-Taliban progress. -- In fact, TV Hill is a microcosm of a nation divided. Conflict has made Afghanistan, a traditionally rural country, more urban. Since the beginning of NATO’s war in 2001, many people have left their home villages and moved to cities looking for safety and work. These waves of migration have left on TV Hill a kind of sociological sediment, with different groups of different means settling at different levels up the slope. The higher, the poorer. -- On Saturday, Afghans will vote in the second round of the election to replace President Hamid Karzai. But for the 20,000 or so families who live on TV Hill, the runoff is yet another distant technicality with a mysterious influence on the minutiae of their lives. --- One morning last February, several weeks before the first round of voting, my translator, Qadeer, and I set out to climb the hill. The base, a dense warren of flat-topped houses, is home to former refugees of the civil war and the Taliban regime in the 1990s who returned to Afghanistan after the United States-led NATO invasion. -- That day, Wali Mohammad Safed, a tall and bearded middle-aged man, was taking a break from selling apples at his stall and puttering around his cement-and-brick house. It stood out against the tawny landscape of mud-walled homes. -- I asked him how much it was worth. “Without NATO, it is worth $20,000,” he said. And with NATO? “Forty thousand dollars!” -- For residents of the foothill, the word “NATO” is shorthand for the bounty brought by the international community. When Mr. Safed, an ethnic Tajik, first moved here there was no water or electricity. The foreign-aid boom brought both. Various development projects have cleared away mines, garbage and human excrement. -- Mr. Karzai was a fool not to sign the bilateral security agreement with Washington, Mr. Safed lamented, referring to a pact that would have allowed a significant number of American troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond this year. Without continued assistance, he warned, the advances that have been made will come undone. -- In addition to the Taliban insurgency, which remains undefeated, a major threat to stability after the United States withdrawal will be the state itself. Most institutions are rotten, eaten away by incompetence and corruption. Yet President Obama announced late last month that only about 9,800 American troops would remain in Afghanistan by early 2015 and none by 2017. - More, May Jeong is a reporter living in Kabul., NYTimes,

Obama, Noting Own Student Debt Burden, Expands Repayment Cap and Pushes Bill --- WASHINGTON — President Obama signed an executive order on Monday intended to lessen the college loan burden on nearly five million younger Americans by capping repayments at 10 percent of the borrowers’ monthly income. -- Joined by indebted graduates in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama said the spiraling cost of higher education had put “too big a debt load on too many people.” -- “These rising costs have left middle-class families feeling trapped,” he said. “You’ve got middle-class families who can’t build up enough savings, don’t qualify for support, feel like nobody’s looking out for them.” -- Mr. Obama drew on his own financial history in promoting the measure. He told the audience that he and his wife, Michelle, paid off their law school loans just 10 years ago, after they had already begun saving for their daughters’ college educations. -- “This is why I feel so strongly about this,” the president said. “This is why I’m passionate about it.” -- Mr. Obama’s executive actions coincided with the introduction of a bill by Senate Democrats that would allow 25 million borrowers to refinance student loans at lower interest rates. The government would finance the measure by imposing a new tax on wealthy people. -- The president challenged Congress to pass the legislation, which would go further than his executive orders and which, he said, “pays for itself.” But with Republicans implacably opposed, Democrats appear unlikely to gather the votes in the Senate needed to pass it. -- “Everybody here knows it’s a partisan political stunt,” Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the education committee, said in an interview. The bill, he said, would expand the federal debt and raise taxes while offering loan-holders a subsidy of $1 a day. --- Under the order, the administration will expand a 2010 law that capped monthly repayments, applying it to those who got loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011. The order will not go into effect until December 2015 to allow the Education Department to draft and institute new rules. -- In addition to the cap, Mr. Obama said, the government will renegotiate contracts with Sallie Mae and other loan providers to increase incentives for paying off loans. The Education Department will also work with tax preparation firms like H & R Block and Intuit to inform borrowers of repayment options and tax credits for college tuition. -- The White House said it did not know how much the measures would cost. Briefing reporters before the president spoke, the education secretary, Arne Duncan, said, “We’ll figure that out the back end, but we think this is something that’d be fantastic for the economy.” -- “This is not about pointing fingers and laying blame,” he said. “This is about mutual responsibility.” -- But Mr. Obama took a gleefully political tone, setting aside his prepared text to criticize Republicans for refusing to consider a tax increase for millionaires to finance a program that would ease the debt burden on graduates. -- “It would be scandalous if we allowed these kinds of tax loopholes for the very, very fortunate to survive while students are having trouble just getting started with their lives,” he said. -- After the announcement, Mr. Obama joined his chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, for an impromptu walk to a Starbucks near the White House. It was the latest in a series of spontaneous outings for a president who appears to be suffering from cabin fever. Emerging from the White House, he said with a smile, “The bear is loose.” - MARK LANDLER, NYTimes,

ایران حتی افغان ها را از داخل افغانستان به جنگ سوریه بسیج می کند: قابل توجهٔ مقامات دولت افغانستان --- کابل - در اروپا سخن از حضور جنگجویان دارنده تابعیت کشور های غربی در جنگ سوریه و در کنار جنگجویان اسلام گرای نزدیک به القاعده هم چون «داعش» و «النصره» و خطر بازگشت آنها افزایش یافته است. در مقابل گروه هایی دیگری نیز هستند که در کنار اسد می جنگند، و از آن جمله لبنانی ها، عراقی ها، یمنی ها و اخیرا افغان های شیعه هستند. منابع آگاه می گویند که افغان های شیعه از مناطق مختلف و توسط شبکه های ایرانی و با دریافت ماهانه ۵۰۰ دالر به سوریه اعزام می شوند. --- سخن درباره حضور جنگجویان افغان در جنگ سوریه به سال ۲۰۱۲ و آن هنگام که اردوی آزاد یکی از آنها را به اسارت درآورد باز می گردد. اردوی آزاد سوریه در آن هنگام ویدیویی از به اسارت درآوردن این جنگجوی افغان را بر روی شبکه انترنت قرار داد. چند هفته پس از آن سربازان رژیم سوریه ویدیویی از حضور یک افغانی دیگر را درز دادند. گروهی که خود را اعضای گروه « ابو عماره» نام نهاده اند، ویدیویی را به تلویزیون العربیه ارسال کرده اند که گفته می شود از طریق موبایل یکی از جنگجویان افغان حاضر در جبهه حومه حلب به دست آمده است. --- بر اساس این گزارش افغان های حاضر در جنگ سوریه از سه منطقه مختلف به این کشور اعزام می شوند. گروهی افغان هایی هستند که از سالها پیش ساکن ایران هستند و از طریق این کشور به سوریه رفته اند. گروه دوم توسط شبکه های ایرانی از داخل افغانستان برای حضور در جبهه های سوریه استخدام می شوند. اما گروه سوم افرادی هستند که پیش از آغاز بحران سوریه در این کشور حضور داشته اند. برخی گزارش ها شمار این افراد را ۲۰۰۰ نفر برآورد کرده اند. آنها از قوم هزاره هستند و به فارسی صحبت می کنند. پیشتر این افراد از جمله گروه عراقی «ابو الفضل العباس» در سوریه حضور داشتند اما اکنون با نام «گروه فاطمیون» در کنار نیرو های اسد علیه مخالفان می جنگند. - گران افغانستان - More,

The diplomat - The Troubled US-Afghanistan Legacy --- Unrealistic expectations, mismanagement and uncooperative neighbors have complicated U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. --- Combat operations in Afghanistan will finally be over at the end of 2014, and the last American soldier will leave by the end of 2016. This will not be the first time Afghans will be left to fend for themselves. -- Despite being the longest war in its history, the U.S. led war in Afghanistan could neither stabilize the country or the South Asian region in general. Undue expectations, harsh terrain, and unruly neighbors are the main reasons the U.S. and its coalition partners could not achieve their objectives. With other security hot spots opening up in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan now looks destined to take a back seat. The U.S. gains in Afghanistan (dismantling al-Qaeda , training Afghan forces, female education and establishing a democratic process) look modest, especially when viewed in terms of both human and capital losses. --- War Mismanagement -- Lack of coordination among U.S. and coalition agencies was the norm rather than the exception. Even a tiny forward operating base would typically have representatives from many U.S. agencies, such as the State Department, USAID, the Department of Agriculture, and Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Some of them inadvertently worked against the mission and undermined the local battlespace owner. -- The mission in Afghanistan was never clearly defined by the White House or the Pentagon. Ground commanders had little understanding of their stated goals, and they were unsure how to achieve their objectives. With changes in leadership, the mission switched between enemy combat, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and nation building. And until recently, there was no exit strategy. -- Prosecution of the war was hamstrung by a lack of knowledge of the local language, religion and culture. The infamous Quran-burning incident at one of the U.S. bases was a direct result of this ignorance. Marines typically served for nine months and Army soldiers for ten months, and every time they rotated, operational continuity was broken. -- Just like Russia in 1980s, the U.S. also depended heavily on the concept of “security bubbles” to fight the war. The security perimeter was concentrated on population centers (a population–centric counterinsurgency) and U.S. commanders paid local Afghan commanders to buy their protection and loyalty. The periphery was left to the Taliban, who operated freely and attacked coalition forces from the outside. -- More, Asim Yousafzai,

Afghans worry as U.S. spending boom comes to an end --- For the past decade, billions of dollars in American aid poured into one of the world’s poorest countries, providing previously unimaginable opportunities to thousands of Afghan workers. -- Now, the boom is over. The Afghan economy, which had been expanding by as much as 14 percent a year, has slumped. Growth this year is expected to be just 3.2 percent, according to the World Bank. That slowdown reflects the declining American spending and also apprehension about security. -- President Obama’s announcement that U.S. troops will leave for good by the end of 2016 has only fanned Afghans’ concerns. The economy is a major topic in Afghan presidential elections Saturday. -- “People are worried — what will happen in the future?” said Yarbaz Hamidi, a businessman who has invested a half-million dollars in two private hospitals in Kabul. “I am also worried — what will happen to my investments?” --- Fears of economic collapse -- Since 2002, Congress has appropriated $103 billion to help Afghanistan rebuild its security forces, government and economy. During the past seven years, when the bulk of the money arrived, the U.S. aid has accounted for about 75 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction. -- And that funding does not include the money the Pentagon spent in Afghanistan executing the war, for things such as maintaining basesand feeding the troops. --- The World Bank is cautiously optimistic that Afghanistan will avoid an economic collapse. It noted in an April report that the country is expected to receive about $8 billion in annual foreign assistance in the coming years. There is also $17.9 billion in U.S. funds that was approved but not spent, U.S. officials say. Obama has pledged that American aid will flow into Afghanistan for years to come. -- But the World Bank says the situation remains tenuous, with projections of a 5 percent growth rate contingent on security and the country’s ability to control corruption and tap its rich mineral deposits. -- In a nation wracked by decades of fighting — first a Soviet invasion, then civil war, then an ongoing conflict with the Taliban — many people fear that the government won’t be able to maintain order. Well-to-do Afghans have already started shifting assets abroad. -- “If this was just peacetime, you would probably have a minor recession,but this is wartime,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a prominent national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “People panic. People protect themselves. They get out if they can. You don’t loan. You don’t invest. You basically wait.” --- Easy money -- Afghanistan remains a largely rural country in which broad swaths of the population don’t have electricity and the average annual per capita income is less than $500. -- Afghan officials are optimistic that they will avoid a deep recession. They say the U.S.-led coalition’s spending was too narrowly focused to have a direct impact on the wallets of most Afghans. -- “The way the investment was made in the country, it was not in an upward, efficient manner,” said Mohmmad Ismail Rahimi, director general of police and monitoring and evaluation for the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. He noted that the country’s poverty rate has remained about 36 percent in recent years. -- Indeed, many of the U.S.-funded reconstruction projects were hampered by theft and corruption. Auditors also have cited numerous cases of shoddy work, at times requiring projects to be halted and rebuilt from scratch. -- Some Afghans who benefited from the boom snapped up luxury purchases, including second homes in Dubai or Istanbul. But the U.S. spending also helped expand a small middle class in cities such as Kabul, and it enabled Afghans to help relatives and educate their children. -- According to coalition officials, more than 700 coalition bases, outposts and checkpoints have been closed or handed to the Afghan military or government since October 2011. With each closure, Afghan businessmen say, it’s become more difficult to obtain contracts. - More, Tim Craig,

The ISI’s Great Game in Afghanistan -- Irrespective of the election outcome, Pakistan will remain deeply involved in Afghanistan. --- For four decades, Pakistan’s spy-generals have played Afghanistan like a powerful chip in a consequential game of poker. They know the important local militants, have open channels to their favorite groups, and regularly play various groups against the Western coalition. The twin justifications for the aggressive intervention in Afghan affairs are India and American withdrawal. Since Pakistan’s humiliating dissection at Indian and nascent Bangladeshi hands in 1971, Islamabad’s doctrine vis-à-vis Afghanistan has been known as strategic depth. For the ISI, Afghanistan is to be a safety net should the delusional prediction that India will invade a weaker Pakistan actually come true. -- A widespread view in Pakistan’s elite circles is that the U.S. will soon withdraw and leave the Afghan problem at Pakistan’s doorstep. I have been hearing a variant of this view for five years now. With U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2014 and potentially leave zero troops after two years, it is apparent now that this view has not been unfounded. But Pakistan has wanted a vacuum in Afghanistan all along. A despoiled, anarchic vestige of a state to its east means that Pakistan can virtually control the territory, as it did through its various puppets in the 1980s and 1990s. -- During the Soviet-Afghan War – during which American arms were shipped into Afghanistan through the ISI – Pakistani spymasters channeled funds and arms into the hands of their favorite militant groups, often the most retrogressive and extremist of the Mujahedeen. Leaders of some of these groups studied in Pakistani madrassas, a wellspring of indoctrination and militant thinking. By one estimate, the number of madrassas in Pakistan feeding the jihadists surged from 900 in 1971 to 32,000 in 1988. The ISI’s strategy at the time – and which remains its strategy today – can be summed up by what Pakistani dictator Zia ul-Haq told one of his generals: “Afghanistan must be made to boil at the right temperature.” -- In the intervening period, Afghanistan has done more than boil. It has been flayed and seared by selfish American short-termism and poisonous, neocolonial Pakistani long-termism. As is well known, the Afghan Taliban were themselves a creation of the ISI, and a de facto proxy by the time they took over Kabul in 1996. In 1999, Benazir Bhutto’s minister of interior, Nasrullah Babar admitted it quite explicitly, pronouncing, “We created the Taliban.” --- Today, the “Talban” are a hodgepodge of militant outfits, though the central leadership of the Afghan Taliban is thought to be in Quetta, Pakistan. For the ISI, there may be a chickens coming home to roost moment, as Pakistan faces a brutal insurgency within its own borders that has adopted the Taliban name but is in many ways far more rejectionist and hostile to the governing authorities. To give just one example, the Afghan Taliban support polio vaccination while the Pakistani Taliban vow to kill anyone offering such treatments. The ISI’s game of prolonging the post-9/11 insurgency in Afghanistan long enough for the tired American leviathan to pack up and go home – and for Pakistan to move in more forcefully – is the direct cause of this terrorist surge, which has taken over 50,000 lives. There are now three separate but interrelated insurgencies eating at the Pakistani state like overfed parasites: the sectarian Sunni jihad against Pakistan’s Shia population, the Balochi insurgency, and the gangsterism and religious extremism destroying Karachi. When exporting militancy is a state’s central foreign policy tool, it does not take long for the pawns to turn their guns on their masters. -- According to a number of reports, the ISI – sometimes called a state within a state – operates a highly secretive, off-the-record “S Wing” that is used to support the various militant groups that have been central to Pakistani foreign policy. A report leaked in 2006 by the British Defense Ministry stated, “Indirectly Pakistan (through the ISI) has been supporting terrorism and extremism.” The report went so far as to link the ISI to the 2005 London bombings, in addition to the various insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. A 2012 NATO study based on 27,000 interrogations of 4,000 captured Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters concluded that the ISI provided safe havens to the Taliban, monitored their movements, manipulated their fighters, and arrested those thought uncooperative. - More, Omer Aziz,

At least 18 Pakistanis killed by assailants who stormed Karachi airport --- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Militants launched a brazen attack on Karachi’s international airport Sunday night, killing at least 18 people and seizing control of part of the airport in Pakistan’s largest city for more than five hours. -- The well-coordinated attack involved 10 assailants who were armed with grenades, rocket launchers and assault weapons, authorities said. Some of them were also said to be wearing suicide vests. They battled Pakistani security forces through the night before all the assailants were slain, officials said. -- Several large fires broke out at Jinnah International Airport, but all airline passengers escaped unharmed, according to a Pakistani army spokesman. -- But the siege, one of the worst security breaches at a Pakistani airport, is raising serious questions about the country’s ability to protect its major transit hubs amid the persistent threat of terrorism. The attack comes as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the country’s military have been considering a major offensive against the Pakistani Taliban, which has been waging a bloody insurgency. -- “This act of terror is unforgivable,” Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Pakistan’s defense minister, told local television reporters. “The state will give an appropriate response to such cowardly acts of terror. Those who plan and those who execute the terrorist attacks will be defeated.” -- In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack. - More, Tim Craig, Washingtonpost

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Malnutrition 'damages gut bacteria' --- Child malnutrition has long-term effects on gut health that affect development even after treatment, a study suggests. -- A team studied the gut health of malnourished children in Bangladesh. -- Writing in the journal Nature they said the bacterial make-up was not fully restored to normal after food supplements were given. -- They say the finding might explain why children often fail to grow normally even after treatment. -- The World Health Organization estimates severe acute malnutrition affects about 20 million children worldwide. -- Moderate acute malnutrition, a less serious form of the disease, is more prevalent in South Central Asia, where it affects 30 million children. -- In Bangladesh, more than 40% of children under five are affected by stunted growth. --- "Friendly" gut microbes play a crucial role in extracting and using nutrients in food. -- It has been suggested that malnutrition damages this process. -- Childhood malnutrition can lead to long-term problems such as stunted growth, cognitive problems and weakened immune systems. -- In this study, a team at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, assessed 64 malnourished children aged from six to 20 months. -- Malnourished children were either given Plumpy'Nut, an enriched peanut-based food that is the mainstay treatment for severe malnutrition worldwide, or Khichuri-Halwa, which is produced in Bangladesh and has rice and lentils as its main ingredients. -- Both types of food include milk powder and micronutrients, such as iron. -- The researchers took faecal samples from the children before they were given the foods and every three days while they were being treated, which usually lasted for around two weeks, stopping when they reached a certain weight. -- Samples were then taken every month for four months. - More, BBC,

Rescuers battle to aid Afghan flood victims as toll hits 80 --- Rescuers scrambled yesterday to deliver food and medical supplies to Afghan families marooned on mountaintops after flash floods killed 80 people in a remote northern district, washing away hundreds of homes and forcing thousands to flee. The death toll was expected to rise, with scores of people said to be missing in the mountainous district... -- Rescuers scrambled yesterday to deliver food and medical supplies to Afghan families marooned on mountaintops after flash floods killed 80 people in a remote northern district, washing away hundreds of homes and forcing thousands to flee. -- The death toll was expected to rise, with scores of people said to be missing in the mountainous district of Baghlan province after torrential rains unleashed the floods on Friday. -- The floods come a month after a landslide triggered by heavy rains buried a village and killed 300 people in a nearby region. -- The twin disasters highlight the challenges facing underdeveloped Afghanistan's next leader as the country heads into the second round of the presidential election on June 14. -- "People have lost everything they had – houses, property, villages, agricultural fields, cattle," Baghlan police spokesman Jawed Basharat said about the floods. -- "There's nothing left for them to survive. People don't even having drinking water," he said. -- Television channels relayed footage of one man wading through a gushing stream of muddy brown flood waters, his back stooped under the weight of a burlap sack. -- Basharat said the death toll had climbed to 80. The Afghan army, he added, was battling to deliver aid to the affected families, many of whom have fled to mountaintops to escape flood waters. -- Afghanistan's defence ministry had dispatched two helicopters to deliver aid packages to the area as roads and mountain passes were left devastated by the floods, said Obaidullah Ramin, an MP from Baghlan province. -- "Some nine kilometres of roads were destroyed by floodwaters, so officials are trying to deliver aid by air," Ramin told AFP, confirming that 80 bodies had so far been recovered by authorities. -- "Relief agencies have distributed some aid, but it is not enough. The problems of the flood-affected people need to be addressed fully," he said, adding that he had toured the affected areas. -- Most disaster management officials were difficult to reach yesterday due to poor telecommunication networks in the remote area. - More,

Afghan President Karzai eyes active 'retirement' --- Kabul (AFP) - When outgoing Afghan leader Hamid Karzai moves out of the presidential palace post-elections to take up residence next door, he will be relinquishing power but not influence, as he seeks an active public role in his "retirement" years. -- Karzai is due to step down in the coming weeks after Saturday's run-off election, paving the way for Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power. -- The elections are meant to signal a fresh start for Afghanistan after the 13-year rule of Karzai dominated by the US-led military intervention that followed the fall of the Taliban in 2001. -- Karzai's relations with the US have collapsed, his regime is accused of massive corruption, and the country is still beset by the Taliban insurgency as NATO troops pull out and aid money declines. -- But any prediction that the new president can turn the page decisively looks misplaced. -- "The truth is that President Karzai built up such a vast patronage network that he has to stay influential to keep his people happy," said Bette Dam, a Dutch author who interviewed Karzai extensively for her forthcoming book on the president. -- "He is looking for ways to continue (wielding) influence, and help his network of people to hold power. Many governors and government officials are in contact with him about how to achieve this." -- Karzai, then aged only 44, became a global star when he was selected to lead Afghanistan after the ousting of the repressive 1996-2001 Taliban regime. -- Charismatic, fluent in English, and dressed in a colourful cape and lambskin hat, Karzai wowed world leaders and convinced the United States that he was the perfect partner to tackle Islamist militancy after the 9/11 attacks. - More, Ben Sheppard,

قوای هوایی افغانستان، در آزمون عملیات مستقلانه --- در حال حاضر قوای هوایی افغانستان در بخش پیلوتان آموزش یافته و سایر پرسونل خدماتی کمبودی های زیاد دارد و به عقیدهء کارشناسان خیلی بعید به نظر می رسد که در جریان دو، سه سال آینده این کمبودی ها از بین برده شود. -- به نوشته آژانس خبری فرانس پرس، در سیزده سال گذشته نیروهای مقدم زمینی جنگ با شورشیان را تعدادی زیاد طیارات جت، هلیکوپتر، طیارات بی پیلوت و ترانسپورتی امریکایی حمایت کرده است، اما اینک که تا پایان سال جاری میلادی بخش اعظم 51 هزار عسکر نیروهای بین المللی از افغانستان خارج می شوند و حمایت هوایی آن ها هم کاهش خواهد یافت، قوای هوایی ضعیف افغانستان باید خود این مسوولیت مهم را پیش ببرد. -- مقامات امریکایی می گویند، در این جای تردید وجود ندارد که بعد از سال 2015 میلادی هلیکوپتر های آپاچی و طیارات جت امریکایی حملات زیاد را انجام نخواهند داد و شرایط برای اجرای عملیات های هوایی سخت خواهد شد. -- تعداد 32 هزار عسکر امریکایی در سال 2015 میلادی به 9800 تن تن کاهش می یابد و بخش اعظم آن ها در دو پایگاه بزرگ نظامی یعنی در کندهار و بگرام مستقر خواهند بود. چون نیروهای زمینی خط مقدم کمتر می شوند، با آن حمایت هوایی نیز کمتر خواهد شد. -- براساس گزارش آژانس خبری فرانس پرس، در حالیکه نیرو های پولیس و اردوی افغانستان در جنگ ها سهم داشته اند، اما قوای هوایی این کشور خیلی ضعیف است. زمانیکه بالای نیروهای پولیس و اردوی افغانستان حمله صورت می گیرد و یا با کمین مواجه می شوند، آن ها تا حد زیاد بر حمایت هوایی طیارت امریکایی اتکا می کنند. -- سهء تحقیقاتی (CNA) می گوید، افغانستان به حمایت زیاد هوایی نیاز دارد و برای تقویت نیروهای هوایی این کشور خیلی بیشتر از آنچه که پلان شده، نیاز است، اما این کشور ظرفیت جذب مساعدت های بیشتر از آنچه را که برای تقویت نیروهایش پلان کرده است، ندارد. -- به گفتهء موسسهء تحقیقاتی (CNA) قوای هوایی افغانستان براساس پلان تعیین شده، در زمینه یافتن پرسونل مسلکی مشکلات دارد و در صورت شمولیت افراد جدید، آموزش کامل آن ها تا سال 2018 میلادی وقت را خواهد گرفت. -- به نوشتهء آژانس خبری فرانس پرس افغانستان یک کشور کوهستانیست و شورشیان اکثر راه های مواصلاتی آن را ماین گذاری کرده اند که قوای هوایی برای این کشور خیلی مهم است. -- افغانستان از مدت ها به اینسو از نیروهای بین المللی خواستار طیارات پیشرفته شده است و تا اکنون 88 طیاره دارد که طیارات ترانسپورتی، اکتشافی و طیارات مختلف دیگر شامل آن می شود. -- اس گزارش دفتر سر مفتش ایالات متحدهء امریکا، افغانستان 9 طیارهء هلیکوپتر (Mi-17) دارد. -- براساس احصاییهء نیروهای هوایی ایالات متحده، در سال گذشته طیارات امریکایی 21785 ماموریت هوایی را انجام دادند، در حالیکه تعداد این ماموریت ها در سال جاری میلادی تا اکنون بیش از شش هزار بوده است. - رادیو آزادی

Egypt's former military chief sworn in as President for a four-year term --- (CNN) -- Egypt's former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was sworn in Sunday after he won 96% of the vote in last month's presidential election. -- El-Sisi takes the oath of office for a four-year term. -- After the ceremony in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court's General Assembly in Cairo, he will get a 21-gun salute followed by the national anthem. -- El-Sisi was officially declared the winner of the presidential election last week, prompting a a boisterous celebration in Cairo's Tahrir Square. -- Fireworks erupted as vendors sold Egyptian flags and balloons marked with his face. Military and security personnel watched from the edges as crowds danced and sang. --- The United States said it was looking forward to working with el-Sisi "to advance our strategic partnership and the many interests shared by the United States and Egypt," the White House press secretary said in a statement last week. -- The election was called amid months of political turbulence that saw Mohamed Morsy -- the country's first democratically elected President after the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak -- removed from power in a July military coup. -- El-Sisi, who was army chief at the time, stepped down from his military post this year to run for President. -- The White House said while it is pleased that international observers were allowed to participate in the election, "we also share concerns raised by observation groups about the restrictive political environment in which this election took place." -- "As Egypt looks toward parliamentary elections later this year, we urge the government to consider the recommendations of the observer groups on ways to improve the administration of future elections," the White House said. - More,

پوهاند محمد حسن کاکړ - افغانان د ډاکتر اشرف غنی ولسمشری ته ضرورت لری --- زمونږ وطن افغانستان هم له غټو ستونزو سره مخ دی او هم د هيلی وړ تحول په کی محسوس دی. ستونزی دا دي چی حکومت په ځان متکی نه دی، خپل ټول عوايد ټولولی نه شی، خپل قوانين تطبيق کولی نه شی، اداری فساد کنترولولی نه شی، او د عادی چارو داجرا دپاره هم باندنيو مالی مرستو ته اړ دی. د وطن پولی هم نامصئونی دی، له ډيرو هيوادونو سره روابط هم د ډاډ وړ نه دی، او يو ډول جنگ هم په کی روان دی. په دی حال کی پانگه په زياد مقدار له وطن نه بيرون ته وړله کيږی. دا ټول سره له دی چی د امريکی حکومت د يو رسمی راپور له مخی د امارت له نسکوريدلو نه وروسته يوازی په ملکی ساحه کی يوسل−او−دری مليارد دالر لگول شوی دی -- په عين حال کی افغانستان کی د هيلی وړ حرکت هم واقعيت لری. دولتی نظام قانونی دی او د انتخاباتو له لاری يو ډول ولسواکی په وطن کی چليږی. د پوهنی او عامه روغتيا په ساحو کی پرمختگ هم شوی دی. اساسی دا ده چی په ملی سويه ويښتيا حس کيږی؛ په نوی نسل کی دغسی ځوانان او ځوانانی هسکی شوی دی چی له عصری تخنيکی وسيلو او عامه رسنيو نه پراخه استفاده کوي. ډير يی په سياسی کلتوری او مدنی ټولنو کی تنظيم شوی دي. په دی ډول په افغانستان کی يوه نوی متوسطه تعليم کړی طبقه ټوکيدلی او اصلاحات غواړی. لا مهمه دا ده چه عامه افغانان ويښ شوی او له حکومت څخه قانونی چلند غواړی. دوی د انتخاباتو په لمړی پړاو کی له سختو شرايطو سره سره يی رأيی واچولی. څه موده د مخه د مشورتی لويی جرگی غړو نژدی په غوڅ اکثريت سره حکومت ته توصيه وکړه چی له امريکا سره امنيتی موافقه لاسليک کړي. دغه موافقه تر اوسه لاسليک شوی نه ده . دا د افغانستان په تاريخ کی د حيرانی وړ يوه بی ساری پيښه ده. خو د ولسمشری آخری نوماندانو هم څرگنده کړی چی په ولسمشر کيدلو سره به يی لاسليک کړی. خو ستونزی غټی او تحول يو نو حرکت دی. د لومړنی هوارول او د دوهمی پياوړی کول د حکومت وظيفه ده. اوس چی د ولسمشر غوره کيدل د ټولټاکلو دوهم پړاو ته رسيدلی د رأی ورکوونکو وظيفه لا ډيره درنده شوی ده، په دی چی دوی يو چا ته اختيار ورکوی چی د پنځو کلو لپاره پری حکومت وکړی. دا هم غټ امتياز او غټ مسئوليت دی، په تيره په اوسنی حال کی چی هيواد له ډيرو غټو ستونزو سره مخ دی. په دغه حال کی دغسی افغان ته ضرورت دی چی د ابتکاری فکر او د غوڅ عمل شخصيت ولری او د قانون پر بنسټ حکومت او چلند وکړی. --- زما په فکر داکتر اشرف غنی د دغی ستری وظيفی لپاره ډير مناسب شخص دی. زه دغه نظر په مسئوليت سره وړاندی کوم په دی چی زه هغه له نژدی څخه پيژنم. مونږ له ثور د کودتا نه د مخه په کابل پوهنتون کی استادی کوله. هغه وخت -- ارواښاد پوهاند سيد بهاوالدين مجروح، ارواښاد داکتر غلام غوث شجاعی، اشرف غنی او ما وخت په وخت سره ليدل؛ په علمی سيمينارو کی مو چی هغه وخت ډير کيدل گډون کاوه او په کورونو کی سره غونډيدلو؛ په درسی، علمی، او ملی موضوعاتو مو سره بحثونه کول. هغه وخت د کابل ښار آزاده هوا د مباحثو دپاره ښه مساعده وه. پوهاند مجروح د همدغسی ژوند له پاره واليتوب پريښود تر څو په پيښور کی د آزادی په لار کی شهيد کړل شو. او داکتر شجاعی چی هغه هم د فلسفی يو با صلاحيته استاد وو د خلقی رژيم په اکسا کی له مينځ نه وړل شوی وو. -- په همدغه وخت کی وو چه ما ښاغلی اشرف غنی له نژدی نه وپيژنده. په لنډ ډول دی ډير قوی ياد لری او تل معقول او منطقی غږيږي. د قانون، اخلاقی اصولو او د ديسيپلين په چوکات کی د ننه ژوند کوی. د سقراط په شان آزادی په قانونی ژوند کی غواړی. له قانون ماتوونکی سره نه جوړيږی، پری باندی غصه کيږی هم. اوس چی ما دی د انتخاباتی مبارزو په تلويزيونی مناظرو کی وليد د پارونکو پوښتنو په وړاندی نه احساساتی کيده. د اشرف غنی دوه مخی توب او ښويه چلند زده نه دی. -- رډ غږيږی، او رښتيا وايی؛ او په خپلو اصولو دومره ټينگ ولاړ دی چی په اړه يی ټوکی هم نه خوښيږی. ډاکتر شجاعی د هغه مشر ورور د حقوقو پوهنځی استاد، ډاکتر احمدشاه غنی ته ويل چی دا ورور دی ډير جدی دی او په ټوکو نه پوهيږی. -- شجاعی د ادب په چوکاټ کی دننه دغسی غوريالی توکمار وو چی جوړه يی ما هيڅ نه ده ليدلی. په هر حال اشرف غنی بی ځايه او سپک نه غږيږی. هيڅ څوک نه شی ويلی چه ده به چاته ضرر رسولی وي. ده چی په اجتماعی ژوند کی هرڅه کړی د نورو د ښی د پاره کړی دي. دی خلکو ته له خدمت کولو سره خاصه علاقه لری. دا به لدی امله هم وی چی د ده لومړنی تخصص په انسان پيژندنه کی وو. -- اوس خو دی د تاريخ، سياست پوهنی، او اقتصاد عالم هم دی. د ماليی د وزير، د کابل پوهنتون د سروال په توگه له دولتی چارو سره هم بلد شوی او د امنيتی ځواکونو د انتقال په بهير کی په وطن کی گرځيدلی او له خلکو سره آشنا شوی دی. -- تر هغه د مخه ده د امريکی د جان هاپکينز په پوهنتون کی ښوونه کړی او په نړيوال بانک کی يی کلونه کلونه خدمت کړی. د همدغو خدمتونو او هم د علمی شخصيت له عمله وو چی دی هم د ملگرو ملتونو د او د نړيوال بانک د مشری د پاره په نظر کی نيول شوی وو. کومی اختصاصی ټولنی دی د نړی د متفکرينو په قطار کی هم نيولی وو. --- اشرف غنی په داسی کورنی کی لوی شوی چی زياتره غړو يی په خدمت کولو کی نوم ايستلی دی. نيکه يی فرقه مشر عبدالغنی خان وو، تربور يی جنرال شاپورِ احمدزوی وو چی په خلقی رژيم کی له مينځه وړل شوی. پلار يی ارواښاد شاه جهان احمدزوی، او يو تره يی ډاکتر عبدالقيوم کوچی دی چه په خلقی رژيم کی هم بندی شوی وو. مشر ورور يی ډاکتر احمدشاه غنی وو چی يو ډير ټينگ ملی شخص، او زما دوست وو. کشر ورور يی حشمت غنی د قوم مشری کوی. ډاکتر اشرف غنی د پراخ نظر خاوند دی. ده د سولی د خوندی کولو په مقصد د ناکامو دولتونو ټينگولو په لار کی کار کړی او په دغه نامه يی د لاکهارت په ملگرتوب يو اثر ليکلی چه د آکسفورد پوهنتون خپور کړی دی. په دغه نامه او په دغه مضمون ما کوم بل اثر ليدلی نه دی. د شوروی اتحاد له منحل کيدلو نه وروسته چی مخ په انکشاف هيوادونو کی ډير دولتونه په خپلو اساسی وظيفو کی پاتی راغلی او نارامی ډيره شوی ده، دغه اثر بين المللی اهميت پيدا کړی دی. په دغه اثر کی دغو ليکوالو، دولتونو او بين المللی موئسسو ته سپارښتنی وړاندی کړی او په کی دا هم ويلی چی (که زمونږ دغه بی ساری نړيواله شتمنی پراخه کيږی هغه ته بايد د ټولو لاس ورسيږی. مصئونيت بايد د نظامی قوت په استعمال سره تضمين نه شی، که څه هم نظامی مداخله به يو وخت بل وخت ضروری وی. مصئونيت به په کاری دولتونو سره يقينی شی په کومو سره چی د سياستونو او مرستو ناکامی په دغسی غبرگ تړون سره لاندی شی چی افراد، حکومتونه، او بين المللی عاملان د مسئوليتونو او وظايفو په ځالو کی سره ونښلوی). -- اشرف غنی چی د نړی د ناکامو دولتونو د سمولو د پاره تجويزونه وړاندی کړی، د خپل هيواد د دولت په اړه به يی لا ډير ژور فکر کړی وی چی د سرطان د کودتا نه را په ديخوا يو ناکام دولت دی. ده پنځه کاله د مخه د (عادلانه نظام لار) په نامه په يو بل کتاب کی د هغه يو عمومی انځور کښلی او په کی يی په مشخص ډول ويلی چی: (اصلی ستونزه په سرچينه کی ده. د دولت کابينه د سرچينی په توگه په دغه فساد ککړه ده). -- بيا نو بيځايه نه ده چی د ده په وينا دغه (دولت د يو کمزوری، غله، او فاسد رژيم په نامه ياديږی). د دغه فاسد دولت اصلی قربانيان د افغانستان خلک دی چی تر اوسه هم د جنگ، نآرامی، بی عدالتی، او زيادتره د غريبی په حال کی ژوند کوی. سره له دی چی په تيرو دوولسو کلونو کی له افغانستان سره دومره ډيری مرستی شوی چی په ټول تاريخ کی دومره مرستی ورسره نه دی شوی . -- اشرف غنی د ولسمشری يوازينی نوماند دی چی د موجودو ستونزو اصلی سرچينه تشخيص کړی او د اصلاح په اړه يی په مناظرو کی خپل نظرونه هم وړاندی کړی. -

Beware the return of 'strongmen' world leaders --- In Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, political strength increasingly means tyranny, and western weakness is allowing it to happen --- There was something distasteful, and deeply disturbing, about last week's photograph of Bashar al-Assad casting his vote in a Damascus polling station, watched by his beautifully coiffured wife, Asma, and adoring supporters. Distasteful because even as the Syrian leader brandished his ballot paper, his military forces were dropping a barrel bomb, the regime's new terror weapon of choice, on the citizens of Aleppo. Disturbing because such a staged photograph is an established trademark of democracy around the world. It is the sort of picture elected politicians everywhere like to pose for. It sends a reassuring message of order, normality and one-person, one-vote humility. You see: the great man is just like you and me. -- Except Assad is not an ordinary guy. No man of the people he, Assad is a dictator whose "presidential election", held only in those urban areas under government control and boycotted by all credible opposition groups, was a travesty and a sham. He rules because his late father, Hafez, and Syria's Alawite oligarchy handed him the job in 2000. Early on, he fluffed good opportunities to pursue reform. Since the initially peaceful demonstrations against his regime began more than three years ago, he has proved himself, by turns, foolish, craven and vicious. He exacerbated divisions and escalated the war by resorting to ever more extreme, indiscriminate violence. He is not an elected president. He is a killer and a war criminal with the names of 162,000 dead Syrians on his personal electoral roll. --- Historically speaking, Assad is something else, too: a political "strongman" in the dismaying tradition of a region that seems pitifully prone to domination by fiercely driven, unscrupulous and often unsavoury individuals with dictatorial tendencies. In recent times, Saddam Hussein in Iraq was one such; Muammar Gaddafi in Libya was another. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, a former general, succeeded Anwar Sadat, himself a political heir to the arch-strongman, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Now, following Mubarak's overthrow in 2011, Egypt is once again on the receiving end of strongman politics with the rise of another general, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. His ascent to the presidency was supposedly legitimised in last month's national elections. But despite being virtually unopposed, he took only 23m out of 53m potential votes on a turnout well below 50%. --- Time will tell whether Sisi is the firm-handed, sure-footed leader Egypt needs, as his backers claim. But one thing is already clear: he is no democrat and most Egyptian voters know it. Egypt's first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, remains in jail after his ousting last year by Sisi's armed forces, along with 15,000 of his Muslim Brotherhood supporters. An estimated 1,400 people have died. Sisi's intimidatory shadow hovers over Egypt's institutions, including the judiciary and media. An official personality cult is in the making. And in an approach that has resonated as far as Bangkok, where Thai military coup leaders seem to have taken a cue from Sisi, Egypt's new strongman stresses stability over human rights and civic freedoms. How he plans to tackle Egypt's crushing economic and social problems is less certain. However he does it, he is sure to do it firmly. - More, Observer editorial - Guardian

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to be sworn in as Egypt's president --- Former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is to be sworn in as Egypt's new president after winning by a landslide in May's elections. -- Security forces have been deployed at key locations around the capital Cairo in preparation for the ceremony at the Supreme Constitutional Court. -- The retired field marshal overthrew President Mohammed Morsi last July -- He has since been locked in a battle with Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which urged a boycott of the elections. -- Liberal and secular activists, including the 6 April youth movement which was prominent in the 2011 revolution that ousted long-serving President Hosni Mubarak, also shunned the 26-28 May poll in protest at the curtailing of civil rights. -- More, BBC,

Ukraine's new leader stands up to Moscow over Crimea and Europe --- (Reuters) - Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko said his country would never give up Crimea and would not compromise on its path towards closer ties with Europe, spelling out a defiant message to Russia in his inaugural speech on Saturday. -- The 48-year-old billionaire took the oath of office before parliament, buoyed by Western support but facing a crisis in relations with Russia as a separatist uprising seethes in the east of his country. -- Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in March, weeks after street protests ousted Poroshenko's pro-Moscow predecessor Viktor Yanukovich, in a move that has provoked the deepest crisis in relations with the West since the Cold War. -- "Citizens of Ukraine will never enjoy the beauty of peace unless we settle our relations with Russia. Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is, and will be, Ukrainian soil," Poroshenko said in a speech that drew a standing ovation. -- He said he had delivered that message to Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two met on Friday at a World War Two anniversary ceremony in France. -- There is no prospect of Russia reversing its takeover of Crimea, but in what could be a positive signal from Moscow, Russian news agencies reported Putin had ordered the Federal Security Service to strengthen protection of the border with Ukraine and prevent people crossing illegally. -- The move was potentially significant because Ukraine and Western governments have been pressing Moscow to stop what they say is a flow of Russian arms and fighters into eastern Ukraine. -- Russia denies it is backing the uprising but journalists have encountered Russian nationals among the separatist ranks. - More,

Egypt court sentences 10 Brotherhood supporters to death: sources --- (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced 10 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death in absentia on Saturday but postponed the sentencing of its leader and other senior members, judicial sources said. -- Those sentenced were convicted on charges including inciting violence and blocking a major road north of Cairo during protests after the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last July. -- All 10 were assumed to be in hiding amid a state crackdown on the group since Mursi's ouster. One of those sentenced was Abdul Rahman al-Barr, a member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Council, the movement's executive board. -- Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, a well-known Salafi preacher who fled to Qatar after Mursi was toppled, was also sentenced in absentia. -- Death sentence recommendations in Egypt are passed on to the country's grand mufti, the highest religious authority, for his review. The court can ignore his opinion and its rulings can be appealed. -- Judge Hassan Fareed said the verdict for the remaining defendants would be announced at a hearing on July 5. -- Those 38 defendants include the Islamist movement's General Guide Mohamed Badie and senior member Mohamed El-Beltagy, along with former ministers from Mursi's government. -- Al-Barr, a Muslim scholar, was nominated by the Brotherhood for the influential position of grand mufti, the country's top cleric, during Mursi's year in office. - More,

How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution --- The pair of education advocates had a big idea, a new approach to transform every public-school classroom in America. By early 2008, many of the nation’s top politicians and education leaders had lined up in support. -- But that wasn’t enough. The duo needed money — tens of millions of dollars, at least — and they needed a champion who could overcome the politics that had thwarted every previous attempt to institute national standards. So they turned to the richest man in the world. -- On a summer day in 2008, Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman, an emerging evangelist for the standards movement, spent hours in Bill Gates’s sleek headquarters near Seattle, trying to persuade him and his wife, Melinda, to turn their idea into reality. -- Coleman and Wilhoit told the Gateses that academic standards varied so wildly between states that high school diplomas had lost all meaning, that as many as 40 percent of college freshmen needed remedial classes and that U.S. students were falling behind their foreign competitors. -- The pair also argued that a fragmented education system stifled innovation because textbook publishers and software developers were catering to a large number of small markets instead of exploring breakthrough products. That seemed to resonate with the man who led the creation of the world’s dominant computer operating system. -- “Can you do this?” Wilhoit recalled being asked. “Is there any proof that states are serious about this, because they haven’t been in the past?” -- Wilhoit responded that he and Coleman could make no guarantees but that “we were going to give it the best shot we could.” After the meeting, weeks passed with no word. Then Wilhoit got a call: Gates was in. -- What followed was one of the swiftest and most remarkable shifts in education policy in U.S. history. -- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes. -- Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration. -- The Gates Foundation spread money across the political spectrum, to entities including the big teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — groups that have clashed in the past but became vocal backers of the standards. -- Money flowed to policy groups on the right and left, funding research by scholars of varying political persuasions who promoted the idea of common standards. Liberals at the Center for American Progress and conservatives affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council who routinely disagree on nearly every issue accepted Gates money and found common ground on the Common Core. - More, Washingtonpost,

تاند - د اونۍ پوښتنه -- انجينير محمد خان د ډاکټر عبدالله له دسيسې ژوندی راووت/ انجينير فضل هادي فضليار -- د ولسمشرۍ د نوماند ډاکټر عبدالله د موټرو پر کاروان ننی بمي بريد: --- الف: د هغه د ملاتړي امرالله صالح طرحه او چال و، تر څو عبدالله سره د خلکو خواخوږي زياته شي او د نړيوالو پام ور واوړي؟ : د ډاکټر عبدالله لخوا د خپل لومړي مرسيتال انجينير محمدخان د وژلو هڅه وه؟ --- ډاکټر عبدالله ته د يوې نږدې سرچينې په وينا، له کومې ورځې چې عبدالله ځان د جمعيت اسلامي ګوند کانديد اعلان کړی، نو د هغه او انجينير محمدخان تر مينځ شديد اختلافات پيدا شوي. -- دا اختلافات هله لا پسې زيات شول، کله چې څو ورځې وړاندې دوی عزني ته لاړل او هلته د غزنيوالو له ساړه هرکلي سره مخ شول -- د غزني د غونډې په جريان کې عبدالله په انجينير محمدخان ور برګ شوی و چې ته په خپل ولايت کې يوې غونډې ته دوه سوه کسه نشې راوستلی نو زما لپاره به څومره رايې راټولې کړای شې. --- تر دې ډېر وړاندې، کله چې د ولسمشرۍ د ټاکنو لپاره د نوماندانو د نوم ليکنې پروسه روانه وه او انجينير قطب الدين هلال ځان د حزب اسلامي ګوند له لوري کانديد کړ نو عبدالله ويلي و چې د لومړي مرستيال په انتخاب کې تېروتی يم. -- د ډاکټر عبدالله دا ناخوښي هغه مهال لا ډېره شوه، کله چې د کابل د حزب اسلامي ډېرو مهمو غړو د هغه د سيال ډاکټر اشرف غني احمدزي ملاتړ وکړ. -- د ډاکټر عبدالله عبدالله ګوند (جمعيت اسلامي) او د انجينير محمدخان ګوند (حزب اسلامي) له ډېر پخوا راهيسې د شديدې دوښمنۍ له امله يو د بل وينو ته تږي وو، نو ځکه خو د دوی دواړو ائتلاف له پيله چندان محکم نه اټکل کېدو. -- ځيني خلک د احمدشاه مسعود د مشر ورور د وژنې پړه هم پر انجينير محمدخان ورتپي، چې هغه مهال د انجينير حکمتيار د حزب اسلامي د استخباراتو مشر و. -- د احمدشاه مسعود بل ورور احمدضيا مسعود چې اوس د ډاکتر اشرف غني د ټيم غړی دي، ډاکټر عبدالله ته ويلي و چې تا زما د ورور قاتل خپل مرستيال ټاکلی، او ويل کيږي چې د احمدضيا مسعود او ډاکټر عبدالله د اختلاف يو ټکی همدا دی. -- څه موده وړاندې د ډاکټر عبدالله دوهم مرستيال (محقق) هغه ته شکايت کړی و چې که زه درسره نه يم، ته ناکام يې؛ خو د انجينير محمدخان نه شتون درباندې هيڅ تاثير نه لري نو بيا ولې بايد ستا لومړي مرستيال زه نه اوسم؟ -- ډاکټر عبدالله ورته ويلي وو چې اوس څه چاره کولی شو؟ محقق ويلي و چې چاره يې اسانه ده. -- زما په اند، نن ورځ يې غوښتل چې د انجينير محمد خان چاره وکړي خو د خداي (ج) خوښه به نه وه. -- ځيني داسې راپورونه هم شته چې ډاکټر عبدالله په اريانا کابل هوټل کې تر وينا وروسته، په يوه عادي صرف موټر کې له هوټله وتی او د بريد پر مهال د موټرو په کاروان کې نه و. -- د يادونې وړ ده چې په ننۍ پېښه کې د انجينير محمدخان موټر تر ټولو ډېر ويجاړ شوی او د افغانستان د ولسمشر حامد کرزي په اعلاميه کې ويل شوي چې مرګ ژوبله د انجينير محمدخان ساتونکو ته اوښتې. --زما لپاره پوښتنه داده که انجينير محمدخان له مينځه تللای وای نو عبدالله به څوک خپل مرستيال ټاکلو؟ استاد سياف، ګل اغا شېرزي، زلمي رسول او که دوي ته ورته کوم بل څوک؟

More Than 50 Dead As Flash Floods Hit Remote Northern Afghanistan --- KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Flooding in a remote part of northern Afghanistan has claimed more than 50 lives and forced thousands to flee their homes, a provincial official said Saturday. -- It was the latest in a string of deadly flash floods, landslides and avalanches in Afghanistan's rugged northern mountains, where roads are poor and many villages are virtually cut off from the rest of the country. -- Lt. Fazel Rahman, the police chief in the Guzirga i-Nur district of the northeastern Baghlan province, said 54 bodies have been recovered, including the remains of women and children, but many others are still missing. He said the death toll could climb to 100 and called for emergency assistance from the central government. -- "So far no one has come to help us. People are trying to find their missing family members," Rahman said, adding that the district's police force was overstretched by the scale of the disaster. -- Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said two Army helicopters have been sent to the area to provide assistance. -- The Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) has stockpiles of food and other supplies in Baghlan province and has started the process of shipping them to the affected area, said Mohammad Aslim Sayas, deputy director of the agency. - More, Huffingtonpost,

Flash floods hit Afghanistan, at least 58 dead --- (Reuters) - At least 58 people have been killed and many more are missing in flash floods that hit parts of northern Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai's office said on Saturday. -- The floods were caused by heavy rain that fell overnight in the Gozargah-e Noor district of the northern Baghlan province. -- Ahmad Nasir Kohzad, head of disaster response for Baghlan, said more than 800 families had been affected and many more bodies could be seen by the river. -- "It is raining heavily and we are doing our best to recover more bodies. Right now our focus is on providing aid to survivors," said Kohzad. -- Karzai has ordered urgent assistance to flood-affected families in the province, his office said in a statement. -- Afghanistan has a largely arid climate but summer can bring heavy rains. More than 100 people were killed in April in flooding in north and west Afghanistan. - More,

گران افغانستان - در تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی خاینان ملی گردهم آمدند! --- کسانی که در فساداداری دست دارند و کسانی که بانک‌ های خصوصی افغانستان را چور و چپاول کردند همه در تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی جمع شده‌ اند. احمدضیا مسعود، برخی از اعضای تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی را به چور و چپاول و بزرگترین خیانت‌ های ملی متهم کرد. -- آقای مسعود هشدار داد، اگر این تیم برنده‌ی انتخابات شود، کشور به سوی بحران اقتصادی خواهد رفت. آقای مسعود که در یک گردهمآیی انتخاباتی مردم ولسوالی‌های کوهدامن کابل سخن می ‌گفت، از مردم خواست تا به تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی رای ندهند. -- به گزارش یک، احمدضیا مسعود ادامه داد: کسانی که در فساداداری دست دارند و کسانی که بانک‌ های خصوصی افغانستان را چور و چپاول کردند همه در تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی جمع شده‌ اند. آقای مسعود تاکید کرد: کسانی که ادعای آوردن اصلاحات را دارند، بزرگترین خیانت ‌ها را در حق مردم افغانستان انجام داده‌اند. اوهم چنان هشدار داد، اگر یک تیم غیرمسوول به قدرت برسد و ذخایر پولی افغانستان را به هدر بدهد، کشور به سوی بحران اقتصادی خواهد رفت. -- معاون پیشین رئیس‌ جمهور کرزی هم چنان، از نگرانی شماری از افراد به سبب پیوستن او به تیم تحول و تداوم خبر داد. او گفت شماری از بزرگان که مسایل ملی را از دایره‌ی قومی می‌بینند، از پیوستن او به تیم تحول و تداوم نگران شده‌ اند. وی تاکید کرد: به خاطر مصلحت ملی و برآورده ساختن آرزو های استاد ربانی و احمدشاه مسعود به تیم تحول و تداوم پیوسته است تا یک حکومت ملی با اشتراک همه اقوام افغانستان ایجاد شود. در این گردهمآیی، اشرف‌غنی‌ احمدزی هم سخنان مسعود را تایید کرد و آن را تعهد تیم ‌اش خواند. -- با این حال، تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی به رهبری داکتر ‌عبدالله این گفته ‌های احمدضیا مسعود را به شدت رد کرده‌ است. سیدآقا فاضل سانچارکی، عضوستاد انتخاباتی داکتر عبدالله‌ گفت: کسانی که چنین اتهاماتی را به تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی متوجه می‌سازند از سوی مردم افغانستان طرد شده ‌اند.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Casey Kasem's Harrowing Five-Day Road Trip Revealed --- As Casey Kasem's health has deteriorated over the last month, and his family fought publicly about his medical care and visitation rights, many have wondered why he is 1,200 miles from home in his fragile condition. -- The 82-year-old radio icon has been diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia, and doctors say, he is "near the end of his life." -- On Friday, after a Kistsap Superior Court hearing in which his wife, Jean Kasem, was found in contempt of court, new details emerged about the five-day road trip in May that involved four states and ended in Springdale, Washington at the home of a family he's never even met. -- For nearly a year, Jean Kasem, 59, shut out Casey Kasem's children from his previous marriage and other family members from visiting him or speaking to him on the phone. Jean Kasem hasn't explained why in detail but she has accused the children of wanting to take the radio icon's $80 million fortune. -- After not seeing her father for five months, Kerri Kasem, 41, figured out he was at the Berkeley East Convalescent Hospital and visited him with her sister, Julie, 38. On Friday, after the hearing in Washington, Kerri Kasem gave this account about what happened next: --- "A few hours later, at 2:30 a.m., my stepmother and her daughter—my half sister—went in and took my father from his bed against doctor's orders," she said, adding that the hospital security's cameras caught all of it. "Adult Protective Services was called. Against them, against the nurse's orders, Jean grabbed my father, stole all of the equipment he was attached to, and threw him in the back seat of the car and drove off." -- The family heard from a relative of Jean Kasem's that she was trying to take Casey Kasem out of the country or, at least, onto an Indian reservation, Kerri Kasem said. When Jean Kasem realized her plans had been discovered, she changed her course. -- Jean Kasem drove to Las Vegas, where they checked into the Vdara Hotel & Spa. There, they met up with a friend, who drove them to Arizona. But then they returned to Las Vegas, where they flew on a private jet to Washington. -- The trip lasted five days --- "My father is very fragile, very sick," Kerri Kasem said. "During that little trip he took, he incurred a huge, huge bed sore. This is in the doctor's notes. He did not have medication. She was feeding him Ensure through his feeding tube." - More, Maria Elena Fernandez,

In Memoir, Hillary Clinton Emphasizes Her Softer Side --- In Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first bid for president in 2008, her campaign seemed determined to make a powerful point: She was strong. She was tough. She was ready to lead. -- In her new book, even as she lays out her foreign policy vision, Mrs. Clinton shows a side of herself that campaign did not: human, motherly, jokey, self-deprecating. -- Mrs. Clinton’s latest memoir, “Hard Choices,” delivers a potent mix of feminine gusto and diplomatic capers. In doing so, she offers a sharp contrast to the argument that she needed to diminish her softer side. -- In retelling her four years as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton weaves moments like planning the wedding of her daughter, Chelsea — she signed an email to the State Department staff “M.O.T.B.,” short for mother of the bride — while she was also negotiating with China. She attended the rooftop wedding of one of her daughter’s closest friends the night before the raid in Pakistan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. One of the guests asked her, “Secretary Clinton, do you think we’ll ever get bin Laden?” -- Mrs. Clinton writes in a straightforward and optimistic prose that drifts from policy discussions to upbeat generalities about the United States and public service: “Doing what’s hard will continue to make our country great.” -- She opens a chapter about American relations with Europe with a Girl Scouts song from elementary school. (“Make new friends, but keep the old.”) And she describes answering questions in South Korea about how she deals with “misogynistic leaders” and how would she “describe love.” Of that event, Mrs. Clinton writes, “It seemed that these women felt connected to me in a personal way.” -- They treated her, she said, “as though I was a friend or mentor, rather than a government official.” -- On the airplanes where she spent much of her time, Mrs. Clinton enjoyed local delicacies like Oaxacan cheese in Mexico, smoked salmon in Ireland and tropical fruit in Cambodia. She mentions her honeymoon twice, calls her husband her “best friend” and closes her story much as she begins it: Describing a peaceful walk with her husband near their home in Chappaqua, N.Y. “There have been too few quiet moments like this over the years,” she writes. “I want to savor them. The time for another hard choice will come soon.” --- Along with the humanizing moments of the book, which is scheduled for release on Tuesday but was obtained in advance by The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton makes clear her concept of America’s place in the world. At times, as in her dealings with Arab leaders while protests unfolded in their countries, Mrs. Clinton articulates that idea without “the usual diplomatic niceties.” --- One of Mrs. Clinton’s biggest challenges has been explaining the connection between diplomacy and national security and her work advancing the rights of women and girls. She devotes the book’s final chapters to that effort. -- Mrs. Clinton has a blitz of media appearances lined up to promote the book, including a nationwide tour that will start on Tuesday with a reading at the Barnes & Noble store in Union Square in New York. Members of Ready for Hillary, an outside group that supports a potential Clinton run for president in 2016, will trail along in a red, white and blue “Hillary Bus” in an effort to drum up grass-roots enthusiasm. -- Mrs. Clinton writes that she has not decided whether she will run for president: “The time for another hard choice will come soon.” -- But she does take time to briefly describe her hopes for Americans in choosing their next president. “Ultimately, what happens in 2016 should be about what kind of future Americans want for themselves and their children — and grandchildren,” Mrs. Clinton writes. And, she says, the questions are not “Do you want to be president?” or “Can you win?” but “What’s your vision for America?” and “Can you lead us there?” - More, AMY CHOZICK, NYTimes

ISAF Defence Ministers discuss 2014 mission, election preparations --- NATO Defence Ministers and their counterparts from ISAF partner nations met with Afghan Defence Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi on Wednesday (4 June 2014) to review progress in the ISAF mission and preparations for the second round of Afghan presidential elections. “The Afghan security forces did an outstanding job in securing the first round of presidential elections in April. The Afghan people showed great courage by turning out to vote in millions. Every single vote cast was a victory for democracy, and for Afghanistan,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the meeting. --- Ministers also assessed the current security situation and progress in the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan security forces. Mr Fogh Rasmussen made clear that NATO has delivered on the pledges made at the NATO summits in Lisbon (2010) and Chicago (2012). “As we promised, we have built up a capable Afghan force of 350,000 soldiers and police, who are ready to take full responsibility for their country’s security. As we promised, we are also planning a follow-on mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces beyond the end of this year.” -- NATO is planning a follow-on mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces beyond the end of 2014. The Secretary General welcomed U.S. President Obama’s recent announcement of the significant contribution the United States intends to make to this mission. “This is consistent with our planning. Together with the contributions offered by other Allies and partners, it shows NATO’s continued commitment to Afghanistan,” he said. However, for NATO to establish the post 2014 follow-on training mission, the required security arrangements have to be signed and the necessary legal framework has to be put in place. “That is why I welcome the fact that both candidates in the presidential election have shown their support to signing the necessary agreements as a priority. It is in all our interest to build on the gains we have made”, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said. -- NATO is committed to helping sustain the Afghan forces and is currently putting in place mechanisms to fund them after 2014. NATO is also committed to its enduring partnership with Afghanistan which will involve both political consultation and practical cooperation. -- Ambassador Jan Kubis, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, and a representative of the European External Action Service also attended the meeting. - More,

Americans split on prisoner swap of Taliban for U.S. soldier --- (Reuters) - Americans are deeply divided over whether the Obama administration did the right thing by swapping five Taliban leaders to win the freedom of Afghanistan prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, according to Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Friday. -- Americans strongly agree the United States should make every effort to free prisoners of war like Bergdahl, an Army Sergeant who was captured in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. But they also think the prisoner swap deal set a dangerous precedent. -- The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 958 Americans interviewed online found that 44 percent disagreed with the statement that trading Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl was "the right thing to do," with 26 percent of them strongly disagreeing. -- Twenty-nine percent of those polled said they thought the prisoner swap was the right thing to do and 27 percent said they were not sure, the poll found. -- Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan last Saturday after the Obama administration agreed to send five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo prison to Qatar, where they must remain for a year. -- After an initial wave of euphoria over the release, the deal triggered a backlash among U.S. lawmakers angry because they were not given 30 days notice before the transfer of the Guantanamo prisoners, as required by law. Some of Bergdahl's former Army comrades said they believe he deserted his post. -- White House counselor John Podesta on Friday told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that President Barack Obama knew the prisoner swap would be a “controversial decision.” -- The president said he acted quickly because he was faced with a "delicate situation that required no publicity" and that he had no regrets about the action. -- "This is something that I would do again and I will continue to do wherever I have an opportunity, if I have a member of our military who's in captivity," he told NBC Nightly News. "We're going to try to get 'em out." -- Obama decided to personally announce the exchange in the White House Rose Garden, accompanied by Bergdahl's parents, in order to explain to the public the reasons behind the decision, Podesta told a breakfast meeting. -- The uproar over the prisoner swap has left Americans with conflicted views of the events, the Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. -- Asked whether they thought Bergdahl was a patriot or a traitor/deserter, 65 percent said they did not know. Only 13 percent said they viewed Bergdahl as a patriot and 22 percent saw him as a traitor/deserter. -- The respondents overwhelmingly agreed the United States should make every effort to recover prisoners of war, with 78 percent agreeing with that statement, including 48 percent strongly agreeing. -- At the same time, they also thought trading five Taliban leaders for Bergdahl set a "dangerous precedent for future kidnapping or hostage-taking," with 66 percent agreeing with the statement, including 43 percent strongly agreeing. - More,

په نورستان کې د لښکر طيبي مخ پټي ډلي فعاليتونه خطرناک بلل سوي ---- د نورستان کامديش ولسوالۍ په جګو غرونو پوښلي ولسوالۍ اوس د افغان ځواکونو، عمومي وسله والو طالبانو د دريمي ډلي مخ پټو وسله والو تر حاکميت لاندي ده، دلته اوس ولسوونه د دريو حکومتونو تر امر او حکم لاندي ژوند کوي. -- د کامديش ولسوالۍ د ډيورنډ کرښي ته ور څيرمه پرته ده وګړي يې تر ډېره په کرهڼه او مالدارۍ بوخت دي خو په دي ولسوالۍ کې د جګړي ښکېلي خواوي پر ځاى موندلو تمرکز کوي. -- د دي ولسوالۍ ارزښتونه ډېر دي ځکه چې په غرونو کې چاپيره سوي ولسوالۍ ګڼو سيمو ته لاري لري او ددي ولسوالۍ هره سيمه يوه ځانګړي مورچه ده. -- اوس دغه ولسوالۍ ته شاوخوا سل تنه داسې مخ پټي کسان ورغلي دي چې تر اوسه يې په دقيق ډول د ډلي نوم نه دى څرګند خو دا ډله تر نورو ميشتو وسله والو ډلو ډېره سخت دريځه ده او په دي ډله کې داسې کسان راغونډ سوي دي چې هم د دولت په ملاتړ کسان نيسي، هم پرې د وژني او خوشي کيدو حکم کوي او هم يې تر دار پوري رسوي. -- د نورستان ولايت والي حافظ عبدالقيوم ددي ډلي په فعاليت خبر دى او وايې چې نوموړي ډلي په دي نژدي ورځو کې دولس تنه هغه طالب قومندانان تر دار پوري ورسول کوم چې د والي په باور د افغانستان د لومړي پړاو ټاکني يې نه وي ګډي وډي کړي. -- دا ډله پر نورو ډلو زيات زور لري او دا ډله ده چې په پټو مخونو کې هر څه کولاى سي. -- افغانستان د ملي امنيت اداري ويلي دي چې ددي ډلي په اړه يې څه نا څه معلومات تر لاسه کړي دي او داسې ښکاري چې دا ډله د پاکستان د لښکرطيبه له ډلي سره اړيکي لري او په افغانستان کې يې فعاليتونه خورا زيات خطر ناکه دي. -- د افغانستان NDSاداره وايې چې ښايې دا ډله نور هم خطرناک کارونه تر سره کړي خو زياتوي چې ددي مخنيوي لپاره هلي ځلي کوي. -- د نورستان والي حافظ عبدالقيوم هم ددي ډلي پراختيا خورا خظرناکه احساسوي او زياتوي چې وړاندي هم يو ځل ده ډله نورستان ته راغلي وه او په دي ولايت کې يې زيات کارونه وکړه خو له بلي خوا بيا له مرکزي دولت څخه غواړي چې ددي ډلي مخه ونيسي. -- د نورستان ګڼ شمېر وګړيو دغه ولايت ته ورغليو خبريالانو ته ويلي دي چې دا سل کسيزه ډله ډېره خطرناکه ده او دولت بايد ددي ډلي د مخنيوي لپاره وروستۍ هلي ځلي وکړي او که چېري يې مخه ونه نيول سي نو ښايې چې دوهم پړاو ټاکني په ښه توګه تر سره نه سي. -- لښکر طيبه په پاکستان کې هغه فعاله خطرناکه ډله ده چې د افغانستان د هرات ولايت د هند د کونسلګرۍ وروستى بريد هم پر همدي ډلي ور تاوان سوى دى. - خبریال دات کام

The volume for foreign fighters seeking to battle jihad in Syria is “more significant than every other instance of foreign fighter mobilization since the Afghanistan war in the 1980s,” the International Center for the Study of Radicalization claims. -- “What’s happening right now in Syria is truly profound,” Peter Neumann, director of the center, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. -- “The old al Qaeda, I believe, is no longer that relevant. In five years’ time we may well be talking about a different kind of organization, and one that like Afghanistan in the 1980s has been created in Syria.” -- Western powers are scrambling to deal with the very real national security blowback that is emerging from the Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year. -- The man in Belgium who stands accused of shooting three people last month at a Jewish Museum spent a year fighting in Syria, according to the chief prosecutor of Paris. -- And last week the U.S. said a man who carried out a recent suicide bombing in Syria is believed to have been an American citizen, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha. -- There is grave concern among governments that those who are not killed in battle – like, allegedly, the man in Belgium – will come back and wreak terror at home. -- Historically, Neumann said, around one in nine foreign fighters will become involved in domestic terrorism. -- “If that is anything to go by, clearly not everyone has been to Syria will become a terrorist, but a significant minority will pose a problem at some point down the line.” --- “We’ve created a database of three-hundred-fifty foreign fighters currently on the ground in Syria,” Neumann told Amanpour. “We talk to them via WhatsApp, via Skype, via social media.” -- “In the beginning, they are quite gung ho about everything – everything is wonderful.” -- “But once you break them down they are quite skeptical about things. They are telling us that the Syrian people do not like them very much. They are telling us that they hate the idea that all this infighting is going on between different groups – they came to Syria in order to fight Bashar Assad; what they end up doing is killing other Sunni rebels.” - More, Mick Krever, CNN,

Two Explosions Targeted Abdullah Abdullah as He Left Campaign Event in Kabul --- t the time of the attack, Mr. Abdullah, a former foreign minister, was riding in the armored car with another former foreign minister, Zalmai Rassoul, the presidential candidate who finished third in the election's first round, on April 5, and has since joined Mr. Abdullah's team. Both men were unhurt by the blasts, and Mr. Abdullah attended two other campaign events in Kabul later in the day. -- "The aim of today's attack was to create fear and terror, in order to stop the Afghan people from voting," Mr. Abdullah told supporters hours after surviving the blasts. "The right answer to today's plot is to go out and vote." -- Mr. Abdullah described the bombings as a "tragedy" and expressed his condolences to the victims' families. -- In addition to the six fatalities, more than 20 people were injured by Friday's explosions, police said. The force of the blasts shattered several vehicles and the hotel's windows, littering the area with debris. --- Shortly after the explosions, Shah Mahmoud, 54 years old, was frantically searching for his son, who had been selling fruit on the roadside near the wedding hall. "I want to know whether he is dead or alive, but so far I have no luck. His phone is not working," he said. -- Both candidates have pledged to sign, if elected, a security deal with Washington that would allow 9,800 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan once the coalition's current mandate expires in December. Mr. Karzai, whose office plans an inauguration of the country's new president for Aug. 2, has refused to sign the deal. -- Under Afghan law, the assassination of any of the two candidates would have led to the whole election being conducted from scratch, delaying the transfer of power by several more months. - More, WSJ,

Hillary Clinton book extracts reveal doubt over Bowe Bergdahl talks --- It may start with a heartwarming tale of reconciliation over chardonnay with Barack Obama, but former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's long-awaited memoir has left Washington pondering a carefully cultivated sense of her distance from the president that will only strengthen rumours of a second attempt at the White House. -- Though not officially due for release until Tuesday, a copy of Hard Choices obtained by CBS revealed Clinton's misgivings about past US negotiations with the Taliban over captured prisoner Bowe Bergdahl. News of such feelings comes just as the political backlash over Obama's controversial deal last weekend reaches its peak. -- “Opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war,” Clinton writes, in passages recounting her time as secretary of state that appear to confirm her rumoured unease about Obama's more recent conclusion of talks. -- On Syria, another foreign policy hotspot over which Obama has been criticised by Republicans for failing to intervene, Clinton is blunter still in signalling that she would have done things differently. -- “The president's inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels,” she writes, according to CBS. “No one likes to lose a debate … in this case, my position didn't prevail." -- The limited extracts made public so far make it hard to judge how much the book is about settling old scores and how much it is about preparing a campaign message, but they suggest a careful media strategy very much in keeping with Clinton's reputation for tight control of the message. -- Potentially the most damaging chapter, detailing her handling of the September 2012 attack on US consular buildings in Benghazi, was leaked to Politico last week with a series of rebuttals aimed at drawing the sting from recent Republican attacks. -- Another chapter, in which she discusses her childhood and the birth of her daughter, Chelsea, was published by Vogue on Mother's Day. -- CBS, which says it stumbled across its advance copy in a bookstore, happens to own the book's publisher, Simon & Schuster. -- Other parts of the book also appear aimed at softening Clinton's reputation in the eyes of the electorate. -- “I sometimes dug the fingernails of one hand into the palm of the other, it was the only way I knew how to cope with the crazy schedule and fierce jet lag,” Clinton writes about her diplomatic travels, according to CBS. --- But in the absence of any direct hint about about future ambitions – “Will I run for president in 2016? The answer is I haven't decided yet,” she reportedly writes on page 595 – it is the sections detailing her interaction with Obama that are likely to generate most interest when the book is published next week. - More, Dan Roberts in Washington, Guardian,

Obama honors D-Day sacrifices at Omaha Beach ceremony --- COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — President Obama on Friday honored a disappearing generation of American servicemen who rushed the shores of Normandy 70 years ago on D-Day in a daring and courageous act to liberate Europe, while promising a new generation of veterans that their sacrifices will never be forgotten. -- Obama gathered with world leaders and dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in northern France to commemorate the world’s largest amphibious invasion, a turning point in World War II. More than 150,000 American, British, Canadian and other Allied D-Day troops risked — or lost — their lives to begin reclaiming Nazi-occupied Western Europe that day. -- The leaders came together as the crisis in Ukraine, the worst conflict between Russia and the West since the Cold War, cast a long shadow over the D-Day commemorations — offering a stark reminder that the long battle for democracy in Europe is not over. --- “But America’s claim — our commitment — to liberty, our claim to equality, our claim to freedom and to the inherent dignity of every human being, that claim is written in the blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity,” Obama said on a stage at the cemetery and memorial here, on the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach. -- And while the Ukrainian crisis was not the focus of attention, the D-Day ceremonies served as platform for small steps toward resolving it. -- At a luncheon hosted by French President François Hollande, Putin met briefly with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko, a late invitee, and subsequently spoke privately for 10 to 15 minutes with Obama. The White House confirmed that the discussion between Obama and Putin took place but did not immediately provide details. --- At the commemoration earlier in the day, with the English Channel rocking softly under clear, sunny skies, Obama left geopolitics out of his address to dozens of D-Day veterans and more than 14,000 other attendees. -- His tribute to the veterans — men who fudged their ages so they could go to war earlier, men who were told they were too uneducated to pilot a plane and so became paratroopers instead — was rich in history. Yet it was also striking because so few of the men who fought on D-Day — now all in their late 80s and early 90s — will be alive at the 75th celebration of the assault. -- “Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are; we don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is; we come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril,” Obama said at the Normandy American Cemetery, where so many are buried. “And we come to tell the story of the men and women who did it, so that it remains seared into the memory of the future world.” -- The D-Day invasion changed the course of history. It cracked Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler’s western front as Soviet troops made advances on the ground in the east. The amphibious invasion launched the weeks-long Battle of Normandy, which brought the Allies to Paris and liberated France from Nazi occupation. -- Recalling the stories of 90-year-old veterans who made it here to commemorate the day, Obama connected their sacrifices to those of another generation — “this 9/11 Generation of service members” — who also “chose to serve a cause that’s greater than self.” -- And in telling the stories of the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, he pledged that “future generations, whether 70 or 700 years hence, will gather at places like this to honor them — and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.” -- Obama declared June 6 a national remembrance day. - More, Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washingtonpost

عبدالله عبدالله نامزد انتخابات افغانستان از یک حمله انتحاری جان سالم به در برد --- در نتیجه یک حمله انتحاری به کاروان انتخاباتی کلیک عبدالله عبدالله، یکی از دو نامزد دور دوم انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان، موتر/خودروی حامل آقای عبدالله منهدم شده اما به خود او آسیبی نرسیده است. -- این انفجار حوالی ظهر روز جمعه، ١٦ جوزا/خرداد در حومه شمال غربی کابل پایتخت اتفاق افتاد. -- حشمت‌ استانکزی، سخنگوی پلیس کابل به بی‌بی‌سی فارسی گفته است که انفجار ساعت ۱۲ ظهر به وقت محلی اتفاق افتاد و کاروان انتخاباتی عبدالله عبدالله را هدف قرار داد. -- وزارت امور داخله/کشور افغانستان در خبرنامه‌ای گفته که رویداد زمانی اتفاق افتاد که یک حمله کننده انتحاری خود را در مسیر موتر حامل عبدالله عبدالله منفجر کرد. -- در خبرنامه آمده که معلومات اولیه نشان می‌دهد که دست کم شش غیرنظامی در این رویداد کشته شده‌اند و ۲۲ تن دیگر زخمی شده‌اند. -- مجید سعیدی، عکاس ایرانی در کابل هم جزو زخمی شدگان است. -- او به بی‌بی‌سی فارسی گفت با موج انفجار به سمت شیشه‌ها پرتاب شده و از ناحیه سر آسیب جزئی دیده است. -- آقای سعیدی می‌گوید حدود ۱۵ خودرو در کاروان آقای عبدالله بودند اما بمب به خودروی ششم چسبانده شده بود. به گفته او، بمب زمانی منفجر شد که موتر آقای عبدالله از محل گذشته بود. -- عبدالله عبدالله نیز لحظاتی پس از این رویداد در تلویزیون‌های محلی ظاهر شد و گفت که چند تن از محافظانش زخمی شده‌اند. او گفت که چنین حملاتی مانع ادامه پیکارهای انتخاباتی گروه انتخاباتی اش نخواهد شد. آقای عبدالله گفت که زلمی رسول نامزد دور اول انتخابات که به تیم اصلاحات و همگرایی پیوسته است نیز وی را همراهی می‌کرد. --- مسئولیت حمله به جان عبدالله عبدالله را هنوز فرد یا گروهی به عهده نگرفته است. آقای عبدالله از سالن آریانا به سوی هتل انترکانتیننتال که مراسم دیگری جریان داشت در حرکت بود که انفجار اتفاق افتاد. رسانه‌های افغانستان جریان مبارزات انتخاباتی او را به طور زنده پخش می‌کردند. - More, BBC,

D-Day: Francois Hollande's plea to fight threats to peace --- French President Francois Hollande has called for the "same vision, the same courage" to combat global threats to peace as those who fought on D-Day. -- Almost 2,000 veterans joined world leaders at a ceremony in Normandy, France, marking the 70th anniversary of the momentous World War Two mission. -- Mr Hollande said today's threats included terrorism, global warming and mass unemployment. -- Earlier, the Queen laid a wreath at a military cemetery in Bayeux. -- The main commemoration event took place at Sword Beach, one of five landing points for the Allies, where scenes from the 1944 invasion were re-enacted. -- The landings - involving 156,000 troops - were the first stage of the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. -- By the end of D-Day on 6 June 1944, the Allies had established a foothold in France - an event that would eventually help bring the war to an end. -- More than 4,000 British, American and Canadian troops lost their lives on that first day of the battle. --- These events have drawn hundreds of thousands of people to the Normandy beaches, all outwardly here for the same reason but actually taking away very different things. -- The leaders flew in to draw political lessons, seeking to define D-Day in their own ideological terms. -- President Obama, speaking at a war cemetery that is the last resting place for nearly 10,000 fallen soldiers, spoke of a sacrifice in the service of "our commitment to liberty, to equality, to freedom, to the inherent dignity of every human being". -- There are historical re-enactors from all corners of Europe. They pose for photos, add to the atmosphere, but undoubtedly come for their own enjoyment. - More, BBC,

Obama speaks at US war cemetery on D-day landings anniversary --- US president says storming of Normandy beaches by Allied troops turned the tide 'in that common struggle for freedom' --- The storming of the Normandy beaches by Allied troops 70 years ago turned the tide "in that common struggle for freedom", President Obama said in an address to veterans and dignitaries during the D-day commemorations in northern France. -- "America's claim – our commitment to liberty, to equality, to freedom, to the inherent dignity of every human being – that claim is written in blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity," he said in remarks prepared for delivery over the site he called democracy's beachhead. -- Obama spoke from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where nearly 10,000 white marble tombstones sit on a bluff overlooking the site of the most violent fighting at Omaha beach on 6 June 1944. He described D-day in vivid terms, recalling that "by daybreak, blood soaked the water" and "thousands of rounds bit into flesh and sand". -- "We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril," Obama said. "And we come to tell the story of the men and women who did it, so that it remains seared into the memory of the future world." -- The anniversary commemoration was a gathering point for world figures embroiled in a geopolitical crisis, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, attending events alongside leaders who are standing against his aggressive moves into Ukraine. All eyes promised to be on Putin and Obama, who were expected to have some interaction during a lunch for world leaders at the Chateau de Benouville. -- Obama's speech during the morning ceremony came after he met privately with some of the dwindling number of surviving troops , along with those who have served since the terrorist attacks of September 11. He told the D-day veterans: "Your legacy is in good hands." -- The president said his grandfather served in Patton's army and his grandmother was among many women who went to work to support the war effort back home, in her case on a B-29 bomber assembly line. - More, Guardian,

Afghan presidential election candidate survives assassination attempt --- Abdullah Abdullah walks free from armoured car hit by two suicide bombs which killed six others, including bodyguards -- The frontrunner in Afghanistan's presidential election has narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in Kabul after suicide bombers attacked his armoured car, killing three of his bodyguards and three bystanders. -- Two bombs hit the convoy of Abdullah Abdullah as he was driven through the city from one campaign event to another on Friday. They ripped apart the bullet-proof four-wheel drive, blew the glass out of nearby buildings and left the ground strewn with blood and twisted metal, but Abdullah emerged apparently unscathed. --- "We condemn the attack," he told supporters at the next rally, which went ahead as planned. "If one person is killed it is a tragedy, but today six people lost their lives. Three were bystanders and three were from my team. They were young men, who had worked with me for a long time. The best response to this conspiracy [to kill me] is to go to vote on election day. Nothing can separate our team from the people." -- It was first serious attack on a presidential candidate since campaigning began in February. -- The Kabul police chief, Mohammad Zahir, said two men, one in a car and another on foot, carried out the attack, which almost entirely sheared off the front of the vehicle. -- The toll could have been higher, but the convoy was still some way from the hotel hosting the next rally when the bombs exploded, and most supporters were already inside. No group has claimed responsibility, but the Taliban have vowed to disrupt a vote they say is not legitimate, and that anyone connected with it is considered a target. -- If either of the two candidates due to face off in a second-round poll on 14 June are killed before then, the constitution stipulates that the election must be re-run. It would be a slow and risky process at a time of great uncertainty about Afghanistan's future. All foreign combat troops will be gone by the end of this year, leaving the national police and army to fight the Taliban alone. -- Critical training and support from a smaller US and Nato mission depends on a new leader signing off on a long-term security deal with Washington. The outgoing president, Hamid Karzai, who was barred by the constitution from standing for a third term, has said he will not seal the agreement. Both candidates have said they would finalise the bilateral security agreement as soon as possible if they won. -- Abdullah won 45% of votes in the first round, and has won endorsements from the third- and fourth-placed candidates, putting him in a strong position for the showdown with former finance minister and World Bank technocrat Ashraf Ghani, who won 32% of votes. Ghani has also won some key endorsements and it is expected to be a hard-fought race. -- The first round in the election was an unexpected success, as Afghans defied Taliban threats by turning out to vote. However there are fears – partly in response to the news reports and the injection of confidence that the vote gave citizens – that the insurgents plan to cause more disruption in the second round. -- The summer fighting season is now well under way so the Taliban, under the leadership of a new military commander, have more men and weapons to draw on for attacks. -- Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul, Guardian

Afghan candidate Abdullah Abdullah survives Kabul bombs --- The front-runner in Afghan's presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah, has survived a suicide bomb attack targeted at his convoy in Kabul. -- Police told the BBC that six people were killed - including one of Mr Abdullah's body guards - and at least 22 injured when two blasts hit a rally. -- He appeared live on television to reassure his supporters that he was unharmed in the attack. -- The run-off round of the presidential election takes place next week. -- No group has said it carried out the attack but the Taliban have repeatedly threatened to target the poll campaign. -- The first blast was detonated by a suicide bomber in a car, a Kabul police spokesman told the BBC's Bilal Sarwary. -- The spokesman said the second explosion was probably caused by what he described as a "sticky bomb" but our correspondent says details about it are still unclear. -- The dead and injured include policemen and civilians. --- The attack took place as Mr Abdullah was leaving an election gathering in a wedding hall. -- Eyewitnesses described scenes of panic and chaos after two loud explosions were heard. Our correspondent says that Mr Abdullah and his colleagues narrowly escaped. -- "Thank God, we have not suffered any injuries.," Mr Abdullah told national television. "However, regrettably, a number of security guards were wounded. -- "Thank God, they are not in serious condition." --- His opponent in the run-off, Ashraf Ghani, voiced his condemnation of the attack on Twitter. -- The run-off is set to take place on 14 June after neither candidate managed to secure more than 50% of the vote needed for an outright victory after the first round of voting in April. -- The winner of next week's vote will preside over the withdrawal of coalition combat troops. - BBC,

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Today’s EUC 2014; Unemployment Benefit Extension News Review; Benefits for America’s Long Term Jobless --- House policymakers are out on recess again but the unemployment benefit extension deal has still not been passed through the House. House Speaker John Boehner appears to be the key voice of opposition in the House of Representatives. He has said, on more than one occasion, that the Senate’s deal to pass a long term unemployment benefit extension is not good for “growing” the U.S. economy. Since it was passed back in early April the House has effectively ignored the Senate’s deal for weeks . Also since Congress allowed long term unemployment to expire back in December 2013, over 3 million Americans are currently categorized as long term unemployed. --- Now that House policymakers are out on break, little positive action regarding the unemployment benefit extension deal is expected to happen. Although House members could still consider a potential vote on the unemployment extension deal upon their return from recess on June 9, 2014, expectations that this could happen have significantly diminished. If it is back to the drawing board for the unemployment extension deal, it could take additional months to receive the appropriate attention and vote. -- The mid-term election in November are approaching and the unemployment crisis in the U.S. will likely play a role in the election process. The current national unemployment rate posts at 6.3 percent and the number of long term out of work Americans could rise millions more by mid-term election time. Although most hope to see the deal become law soon, the lack of an extension could be a major election issue in November. - More,

Unemployment Extension 2014: New Petition Asks President Obama To Call John Boehner About The EUC --- The latest 2014 unemployment extension petition is asking that President Obama call House Speaker John Boehner and attempt to work out a middle ground for the millions of Americans who have their unemployment benefits expire. -- In a related report by The Inquisitr, we have previously noted that “Obama could threaten to veto other Republican-backed legislation until the unemployment extension is enacted, but he has not chosen to exercise that power. Nor has he even placed a phone call to Boehner to discuss the 2014 extension.” -- It’s also been claimed that Democrats have lost interest in supporting the 2014 unemployment extension bill due to the upcoming mid-term elections. --- The new petition specifically highlights that issue by discussing the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program in these terms: -- “There are over 3.5 million long term unemployed Americans, including over 200,000 military veterans, who have lost EUC benefits since December 28th, 2013. Please put politics aside and help these hard-working, responsible Americans make ends meet and support their families as they look for a job. For each week that Congress fails to act on this crucial issue, approximately 70,000 more long-term unemployed Americans lose their vital economic lifeline. Please give John Boehner a call and ask him to allow the House of Representatives to vote on the bipartisan approved Senate bill to extend EUC benefits, which awaits a House vote. Also, please tell Congress to work harder for those who are struggling to get back into the workforce, because our nation’s future depends on it.” --- This new unemployment extension petition was created on May 19 and has until June 18 to gather the required 100,000 signatures in order to have any effect. As of this writing, it is up to 5,797 signatures and has a long road to travel in the next two weeks. This sounds ba,d but to put this in perspective it’s already beating the last major petition which made this demand: -- “Respectfully asking President Obama to pass the unemployment extension- millions of Americans need it urgently! Help us! Stop stagnating the bill in the House! Help hard Working Americans get back on their feet!” -- This older petition expires tomorrow and only has 2,449 signatures, which means it’s highly likely to fail. Even the petition, which doesn’t expire, only reached 25,700. -- If the 3 million and counting unemployed affected by the extension bill were to raise awareness of this petition, it’s possible that the White House would be forced to respond as dictated by the terms of the website. If that occurs, then major news media would take note and the issue may become more paramount in the minds of politicians. So I would recommend sharing the petition or even this article on social media so that your friends and family might help reach the goal of 100,000 signatures. - More,

Sources outline conditions on Taliban leaders’ release in exchange for Bergdahl --- The five senior Taliban leaders released to Qatar after years of detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are subject to strict bans on militant incitement or fundraising that might pose a danger to the United States, according to people familiar with the negotiations that freed American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl. -- The Afghans are also under a one-year travel ban insisted upon by Washington despite a Taliban request that the men be allowed to make the hajj, Muslims’ annual pilgrimage to nearby Saudi Arabia. -- The Obama administration has kept the document detailing the terms of the men’s conditions of release confidential, partly in deference to Qatar, the tiny Middle East country that served as intermediary. But people familiar with the talks and a classified briefing provided to senators said that negotiators sought additional security assurances from Qatar this spring and got them, and that President Obama personally shook hands on the terms with the Qatari emir. -- U.S. officials and others who provided details of the negotiations spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the arrangement, much of which remains classified. -- The men are not under lockdown in Qatar, and their relative freedom of movement after more than a decade under complete U.S. control has angered administration critics. -- “It’s possible someone will see them on the streets of Qatar,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “But those types of activities don’t threaten our national security interests, and that’s the standard here about substantially mitigating the threat that they will pose.” -- But based partly on Qatar’s past record with transferred Guantanamo detainees, critics fear that the five will be not be subject to the kind of strict monitoring that can prevent them from having a role in the Taliban insurgency. - More, Anne Gearan, Washingtonpost

Obama, other Group of Seven leaders offer olive branch to Putin --- BRUSSELS — Russia was pointedly disinvited from a gathering Thursday of the exclusive Group of Seven nations, but it was clear that the international big chill imposed on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine is starting to thaw. -- President Obama and other leaders meeting here offered an olive branch to Russian President Vladimir Putin, inviting him to begin to resolve the seven-month Ukrainian crisis and rebuild trust with the West after an estrangement that invited comparisons to the Cold War. -- Putin has an opportunity “to seize this moment” and turn the page, Obama said. -- Putin should recognize that Ukraine’s newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko, is the “legitimate leader of Ukraine,” he said. Obama also said he was pleased to see Putin not denounce Poroshenko’s May 25 election, adding that it “offers the prospect that he’s moving in a new direction.” -- Although the Group of Seven warned that Russia would face harsher sanctions if it fails to ease months of tension, new economic penalties are on hold, to the evident relief of European nations. -- The detente with Russia continued with scheduled meetings between Putin and the British and French leaders Thursday in Paris. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to see Putin on Friday. Only Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to meet with Putin one on one when the allies of World War II gather in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. -- Putin’s Russia was pushed out of what had been known as the Group of Eight over the invasion and annexation of Crimea this spring. The gathering of heads of state was abruptly moved from Sochi, Russia, to the Belgian capital, home to the European Union and NATO. -- British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that Russia had lost its seat in the economic club by actions that are “totally at odds with the values of this group of democracies.” He went on to offer what appeared to be specific criteria for avoiding stricter sanctions: the end of Russian support for separatists operating in eastern Ukraine and the recognition of the Poroshenko government. -- “If these things don’t happen, then sectoral sanctions will follow,” Cameron said, referring to much tougher penalties targeting sectors of the Russian economy. --- Modified sectoral sanctions, largely targeting the Russian defense industry, were readied in May in anticipation of potentially heavy Russian interference in the Ukrainian elections, which Russia had called illegitimate. Those sanctions were considered a last resort by many European nations that trade heavily with Russia. Moscow surprised and pleased European nations by refraining from overt meddling in the election, and European diplomats said the strong hope now is that sectoral sanctions will quickly become unnecessary. - More, Washingtonpost

Obama nominates top U.S. general in Afghanistan to lead Marines --- (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has nominated the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, to head the Marines, the Pentagon said on Thursday, in an expected move that will put a new leader in charge of wrapping up America's longest war. -- Dunford, who has led the war effort in Afghanistan since February 2013, will replace General James Amos as the next commandant of the Marine Corps, its top uniformed position. -- Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said no decision has been made on the timing of Dunford's departure from Afghanistan, where he has focused on building Afghan security forces ahead of the end of NATO's combat mission this year. -- Obama announced last week that the United States will cut its force in Afghanistan to 9,800 from the start of next year. The U.S. military will withdraw all of its forces, except for a smaller U.S. embassy presence, by the end of 2016. -- "We don’t have a specific timeline for when he will transition command or for who will replace" him in Afghanistan, Warren told reporters. -- Amos praised the decision, calling Dunford "one of the most knowledgeable and talented leaders and thinkers in the military today." - More,

NATO to keep around 12,000 troops in Afghanistan next year: U.S. official --- (Reuters) - A NATO-led training mission in Afghanistan next year is likely to total about 12,000 soldiers, including about 8,000 Americans, while some 1,800 Americans will conduct counter-terrorism missions, a senior U.S. military official said on Wednesday. -- The United States would also be keen to see participation in the counter-terrorism effort by nations with well-trained special forces, such as Britain or Australia, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. -- The 12,000 figure for the NATO training mission given by the official on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels was at the high end of planning assumptions previously spoken of in NATO corridors. -- U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that the United States will cut its force in Afghanistan to 9,800 from the start of next year, split between soldiers who will form part of the NATO training mission and others who will be part of a U.S. mission to combat al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. -- The United States had not said how many soldiers would be in each mission, "but my assessment is that somewhere on the order of 8,000 will be part of the NATO mission ... and the overall number of 12,000 did include as a planning figure 8,000 U.S. and 4,000 NATO," the official said. -- "There are a number of nations that have some very high-end special operations forces that we would welcome as part of that effort," he said. - More,

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

G7 leaders warn Russia of fresh sanctions over Ukraine --- Leaders of the G7 industrial nations meeting in Brussels say they are prepared to impose further sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine. -- A joint statement condemned Moscow for its "continuing violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty. -- The summit is the first since Russia was expelled from the G7 following its annexation of Crimea in March. -- Earlier in Poland, US President Barack Obama warned Moscow against what he called its "dark tactics" in Ukraine. -- Mr Obama is on a three-state European tour ending with the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France on Friday. -- Russian President Vladimir Putin will also be at the ceremony. -- Although President Putin is not attending the Brussels summit, he will hold face-to-face talks with some G7 leaders - not including President Obama - in Paris afterwards. -- The BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels says diplomacy has intensified to try to resolve the biggest crisis in years between Russia and the West. --- G7 leaders gathered in Brussels on Wednesday evening for the summit's opening dinner. -- "We are united in condemning the Russian Federation's continuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," the leaders said in a joint statement. -- "We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to consider meaningful additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require." -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: "We can't afford a further destabilisation of Ukraine." -- "We have made clear that we want to continue with our three-step approach - support Ukraine in economic issues, talks with Russia, and should there no progress on all those issues... the possibility of sanctions, tougher sanctions, remains on the table," she said. - More, BBC,

Thousands of homes destroyed as more floods strike northern Afghanistan – UN --- 3 June 2014 – New flash floods in northern Afghanistan over the weekend have affected thousands of homes and washed away agricultural land and roads, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today, noting that the number of people affected by flooding nationwide now stands at 140,000. -- Jens Laerke, OCHA’s spokesperson in Geneva, told reporters that among the areas affected in the latest flooding are Faryab, Sar-i-pul, Balkh and Baghlan. -- “Initial reports from Faryab province indicate that some 6,000 houses have been destroyed, livestock has drowned, and agricultural land, roads and bridges have been washed away,” he stated. -- Afghanistan is extremely susceptible to recurring natural disasters, due to its geographical location and years of environmental degradation. The latest floods come on the heels of the landslide that struck the province of Badakhshan in early May, killing hundreds of people. -- OCHA said that 16,000 families in areas affected by the heavy rains and floods last month have already received emergency aid and that enough relief supplies are in Afghanistan to help thousands more in need. -- Mr. Laerke said that among the priorities in the wake of this weekend’s floods is preventing the spread of disease. -- “In the newly flooded areas, the focus for immediate relief will again be clean water, sanitation and hygiene to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases. As of today, no outbreak of malaria, cholera or acute watery diarrhoea has been reported,” he stated. - More,

Obama’s Afghan plan is not a ‘withdrawal’ but a ‘transition,’ U.S. commander says --- BRUSSELS — President Obama’s plan to remove all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 “is not a zero option . . . not a withdrawal plan,” the commander of U.S. and international forces there said Wednesday. -- Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said the plan he expects to implement, following Obama’s announcement last week, is a “transition” that bears no resemblance to the 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Under the plan, nearly 14,000 U.S., NATO and other international troops will remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of combat forces at the end of this year. -- Components of that number, according to a senior U.S. military official, include 12,000 conventional troops made up of about 8,000 from the United States and 4,000 from NATO members and others who will train and advise Afghan security forces. -- To reach Obama’s announced total of 9,800, the United States will also deploy a counterterrorism force of about 1,800, according to the official. The figures are the first approximate breakdown of the U.S. forces. -- “The president’s decision” on overall troop strength “for us starts the detailed planning for the [counterterrorism] mission,” the military official said. -- Obama said he would cut U.S. forces roughly in half at the end of 2015, to what the military official said would be about 5,500. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss figures that have not yet been made public, said the breakdown between conventional and counterterrorism forces will depend on conditions on the ground. -- At the end of 2016, the only U.S. troops remaining will be a force of several hundred assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to handle defense sales and military education programs. -- Dunford briefed NATO defense ministers meeting here as the alliance began to review transition plans that will be formalized at a “force generation” conference later this month and be adopted by government leaders at NATO’s September summit in Wales. -- The United States and its allies in Afghanistan have expressed confidence that Afghanistan’s new president, to be elected in a June 14 runoff, will sign the necessary bilateral security agreement and NATO status-of-forces accord to permit the post-2014 deployments. -- “Right now, I don’t have any concerns [about] getting to 12,000” for the conventional force, said Dunford, who briefed a small group of reporters who traveled to the NATO conference with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. --- Germany, Italy and Turkey each has indicated it will leave 600 to 800 troops in Afghanistan next year, based respectively in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, Herat in the west and Kabul. Those forces will be supplemented in each location by contributions from NATO and non-NATO countries that have troops in the international force under Dunford’s command in Afghanistan. -- “We have not yet taken positions on the exact figures, but of course the United States announcement gives you an indication of the size of the future . . . mission,” to be called Resolute Support, said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. -- “We haven’t yet taken a decision on the duration” of the mission, including after 2015, Rasmussen said. “Right now, we’ll concentrate on the establishment” of the mission, he said. -- Rasmussen emphasized NATO’s ongoing commitment to provide annual financial support for Afghanistan’s 352,000 combined military and police forces through 2017. An initial commitment is for $4.1 billion a year — about half of it from the United States. Dunford last year asked that the U.S. amount be increased by $600 million to $800 million. -- U.S. and NATO officials described a Taliban force that has been greatly debilitated since the beginning of this year and pointed to the successful first round of Afghanistan’s presidential election in April as a defeat for the militants. The top two vote-getters are competing in next week’s runoff to succeed President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign the bilateral security and status-of-forces agreements. - More, Karen DeYoung, Washingtonpost

Opinions - What really happened to Egypt’s revolution --- Ahmed Maher founded the April 6 Youth Movement that advocated democracy in Egypt and an end to the regime of Hosni Mubarak. He is in Egypt’s Tora prison. -- John Kerry’s widely quoted statement about Egypt’s Jan. 25, 2011, revolution — that it was sparked by the youth and “ stolen ” by the Muslim Brotherhood — is infuriating. Not because it’s not true but because it ignores the more recent fact that many of the young people who kindled the revolution are now jailed for defending democracy and human rights. -- Yes, Mr. Kerry , we all know that the 2011 revolution was set in motion by the youth and stolen by the Brotherhood. And we agree with you that the Brotherhood ruled Egypt ineffectively, with stupidity, stubbornness and greed. No one disagrees with that. Many of those youths who rebelled against the Mubarak government in 2011 also protested the incompetence of the Brotherhood on June 30, 2013. But now they wallow in prisons and are being attacked every day in the Egyptian media. -- No one can voice an opinion anymore, Mr. Kerry. When anyone speaks about the wrong direction the country is taking or the violations of human rights or the oppression that is increasing every day, the consequences are death or imprisonment or, at the very least, the tarnishing of one’s reputation in the media. Yes, there is a new constitution, but no one criticizes any of its articles because the authorities detained its critics before the constitution was passed. -- And yes, there were presidential elections last week, but everyone knew the outcome before the vote occurred, Mr. Kerry. And everyone knows that the vote has nothing to do with proceeding along the path of democracy. There is no path of democracy to begin with — it is all a comical farce. -- Unfortunately, your statements in November, along with the U.S. decision to resume aid last month, are being interpreted in Egypt as support for this military regime, and they encourage it to further its oppression and tyranny. -- Yes, the youth sparked the revolution and the Brotherhood hijacked it, but that is no reason for Egypt’s state security forces to murder both the Brotherhood and the youth. Yes, there are terrorists and extremists who take up arms and cause treacherous explosions, and we must all fight this terrorism. -- However, it is unacceptable for the Egyptian authorities to generalize and to make accusations without evidence. Violations of human rights only encourage others to resort to violence and to despair of peaceful and democratic resistance. -- The Egyptian authorities must respect freedoms, human rights, freedom of expression, dialogue and inclusion and must not encourage others to resort to extremism and violence. If your Apache helicopters are important in the fight against terrorism, I assure you that individual freedoms, democracy, respect for human rights, dialogue and inclusion are also important in the fight against terrorism. - Washingtonpost

حضور سربازان آمریکایی در 'عملیات‌ ضد تروریسم' در افغانستان ادامه می‌یابد --- مقام‌های ارتش آمریکا گفته‌اند که از نزدیک به ده هزار نیروی این کشور که قرار است پس از پایان سال ۲۰۱۴ در افغانستان باقی بمانند، ۱۸۰۰ تن در عملیات ضد تروریسم شرکت خواهند کرد. -- این نخستین بار است که جزییاتی از برنامه ایالات متحده آمریکا برای ادامه حضور در افغانستان پس از ۲۰۱۴ منتشر می‌شود. -- با این حال ارتش آمریکا گفته‌است که این تصمیم هنوز نهایی نشده و کشورهای دیگر نیز اگر تمایلی داشته باشند، می‌توانند نیرو در اختیار عملیات ضد تروریسم قرار بدهند. -- ژنرال ژوزف دانفورد، فرمانده کل نیروهای بین‌المللی مستقر در افغانستان در حاشیه نشست وزرای دفاع کشورهای عضو ناتو در بروکسل، به خبرنگاران گفت که به اعتقاد او مانعی برای مشارکت دیگر کشور‌ها در ترکیب نیروهایی که قرار است پس از پایان امسال در افغانستان باقی بمانند، وجود ندارد. -- مقام‌های نظامی گفته‌اند که بر اساس برآوردهای انجام شده، ۱۲۰۰۰ نیرو برای همکاری با نیروهای امنیتی افغان و آموزش آنها بعد از سال ۲۰۱۴ مورد نیاز خواهد بود. -- آقای دانفورد گفت: " در حال حاضر من اصلا نگران آماده ساختن ۱۲۰۰۰ نیرو نیستم." -- پیش از این باراک اوباما، رئیس جمهوری آمریکا اعلام کرده‌بود که پس از پایان ماموریت عملیاتی نظامیان آمریکایی در افغانستان در پایان سال جاری میلادی، ۹۸۰۰ سرباز آنان در این کشور باقی خواهند ماند. -- این تعداد نیز به تدریج کاهش یافته و پس از سال ۲۰۱۶ میلادی تنها یک هزار سرباز آمریکایی در افغانستان خواهند ماند که وظیفه تامین امنیت مکان‌های دیپلماتیک آمریکا در این کشور را برعهده خواهند داشت. -- حال ژنرال دانفورد می‌گوید، ایالات متحده آمریکا حاضر شده ۸۰۰۰ نیرو از ۱۲۰۰۰ نیروی باقی مانده پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ در افغانستان را فراهم کند. -- کشورهای آلمان، ایتالیا و ترکیه نیز وعده داده‌اند تا نیروهای خود را برای تامین امنیت بخش‌هایی از افغانستان اعزام کنند. -- بر این اساس نظامیان آمریکایی در شرق و جنوب افغانستان مستقر خواهند شد، نیروهای ایتالیایی در بخش بزرگی از غرب، سربازان آلمان در شمال و نیروهای ترکیه در شهر کابل. -- وزرای دفاع کشورهای عضو ناتو که این هفته در بروکسل، پایتخت بلژیک گرد هم آمده‌اند، روی این مساله بحث می‌کنند که کدام کشورها در سال ۲۰۱۵ میلادی و بعد از آن، در افغانستان نیرو خواهند داشت. -- به گفته ژنرال دانفورد، کشورهای عضو ناتو در نشست این هفته خود متعهد شده‌اند تا برای "چندین سال" کمک‌های مالی نیز در اختیار ارتش افغانستان قرار دهند. -- ارتش افغانستان در حال حاضر ۳۵۲ هزار نیرو دارد و به گفته کارشناسان نظامی، در بخش‌های متعددی مانند ایجاد نیروی هوایی، برنامه‌ریزی و تدارکات، تامین بودجه و خرید ابزار و مهمات مورد نیاز، وابسته به کمک‌های خارجی خواهد بود. - BBC

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wins third term --- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a third term in office after securing 88.7% of votes in Tuesday's presidential election, the parliamentary speaker says. -- Earlier, Syria's constitutional court put the vote turnout at 73.47%. -- Voting took place in government-controlled areas, but not in parts of the north and east held by rebels. -- Tens of thousands of people have died in three years of civil war in Syria, with millions more displaced. -- President Assad's key challengers, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, received 4.3% and 3.2% of the vote respectively. -- Syria's constitutional court had earlier announced that some 11.63 million Syrians voted out of a total of 15.85 million eligible to cast a ballot. - More, BBC,

Why most say the American dream is out of reach --- While the last recession officially ended in June 2009, that may come as a surprise to many Americans, who increasingly feel that the American Dream is out of reach. -- Almost 6 out of 10 respondents in a CNNMoney Poll said they believe the American dream -- however they wish to define it -- is no longer achievable. -- While the American dream may mean different things to different people -- higher wages than their parents, or homeownership, or a healthy bank balance -- the survey is reflecting the lingering impact of the recession: Lagging wages, a tough job market, and greater income inequality. From 2000 to 2013, hourly wages for most Americans either fell or flatlined, according to a new study published today from the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute. -- "The purchasing power of wages has gone down," Elise Gould, director of health policy research at the EPI and an author of the report, told CBS MoneyWatch. "They've grown slower than inflation," which has caused "terrible stagnation over the last decade." -- While the overall economy has grown since the end of the recession, most Americans aren't capturing their share of those gains. In fact, real wages fell for the entire bottom 90 percent of the wage distribution from 2009 through 2013, according to the EPI study, called "Raising America's Pay." The worst-off groups were those at the bottom of the wage distribution, with those in the 20th percentile witnessing their hourly wages slip by 6.4 percent. -- But the recession exacerbated a trend that had started decades ago, Gould notes. That's a long-term trend of hourly wages failing to keep pace with productivity. In other words, even though American workers have become more productive since the 1970s, their pay hasn't increased at a commensurate pace. -- "Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers, who comprise 80 percent of the private-sector workforce, grew just 8.2 percent," the report found. "Productivity thus grew eight times faster than typical worker compensation." -- College-educated workers aren't immune from lagging wages, either, Gould noted. The study found that entry-level hourly wages fell on average for both male and female college grads since 2000. -- "There's a misconception that college wages must have really risen since the college premium has gone up," she noted. "That's not really true; what's happened is the wages of high-school graduates have really fallen, and particularly recently." --- For an eye-opening demonstration of how wages have failed to keep pace, the EPI has created a widget that asks you to plug in your current income. It then spits out what your income would have been if wages had kept pace with productivity over the past 30 years. The median American household income of $53,000 translates to $77,000, according to the the EPI widget. -- Of course, some workers have benefited in the five years since the recession ended: The top American earners. The highest earning 1 percent of Americans captured 95 percent of the income gains in the first three years after the recession ended, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez reported last year. -- Even at the top, incomes are seeing wide disparities, with the EPI finding that the wage gap between the top 1 percent and those in the 90th to 95th percentiles rose faster than any other wage gaps it examined. Because the top 1 percent of earners is dominated by CEOs and executives in the financial sector, the deregulation of the financial industry and corporate governance issues may explain those gains, the paper found. -- While the stock market has reached new highs this year, that's also not benefiting all workers, given that only about half of Americans own shares in publicly traded companies. -- So what's the solution? Policy changes such as strengthening workers' rights and tweaking the tax and transfer system are among the tools that can be used to bring wage growth back to American workers, Gould notes. -- "We should definitely use all of the levers we can," she said. - More,

AP Exclusive: Western couple held in Afghanistan --- WASHINGTON (AP) — The family of a pregnant American woman who went missing in Afghanistan in late 2012 with her Canadian husband received two videos last year in which the couple asked the U.S. government to help free them from Taliban captors, The Associated Press has learned. -- The videos offer the first and only clues about what happened to Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle after they lost touch with their families 20 months ago while traveling in a mountainous region near the capital, Kabul. U.S. law enforcement officials investigating the couple's disappearance consider the videos authentic but say they hold limited investigative value since it's not clear when or where they were made. -- The video files, which were provided to the AP, were emailed to Coleman's father last July and September by an Afghan man who identified himself as having ties to the Taliban but who has been out of contact for several months. In one, a subdued Coleman — dressed in a conservative black garment that covers all but her face— appeals to "my president, Barack Obama" for help. -- "I would ask that my family and my government do everything that they can to bring my husband, child and I to safety and freedom," the 28-year-old says in the other recording, talking into a wobbly camera while seated beside her husband, whose beard is long and untrimmed. --- The families decided to make the videos public now, in light of the publicity surrounding the weekend rescue of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed from Taliban custody in exchange for the release of five high-level Taliban suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The families say they are disappointed that their children and grandchild were not freed as part of the same deal but are still holding out hope for the U.S. and Canadian governments to secure their release on humanitarian grounds. -- "It would be no more appropriate to have our government turn their backs on their citizens than to turn their backs on those who serve," Patrick Boyle, a Canadian judge and the father of Joshua Boyle, said in a telephone interview. -- Republicans in Congress have criticized the Bergdahl agreement and complained about not being consulted, though Obama has defended it, citing a "sacred" obligation to not leave men and women in uniform behind. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., asked Obama in a letter this week why other Americans still in the custody of Afghan militants were not included in the negotiation. The families say their children, though without political or military ties to the government, are prisoners just as Bergdahl was and should be recognized as "innocent tourists" and not penalized further for venturing into dangerous territory. -- "They really and truly believed that if people were loved and treated with respect that that would be given back to them in kind," said Linda Boyle, Boyle's mother. "So as odd it as it may seem to us that they were there, they truly believed with all their heart that if they treated people properly, they would be treated properly." - More, ERIC TUCKER of Associated Press,

Obama vows to defend freedom in Europe, support democratic movements worldwide --- WARSAW — Surrounded by throngs celebrating Poland’s 25 years of democracy, President Obama on Wednesday pledged to uphold the United States’ longtime commitment to the defense of Eastern Europe against new threats, using the opportunity to deliver a resounding endorsement of democratic movements across the world. -- “Throughout history, the Polish people were abandoned by friends when you needed them most,” Obama said. “I have come to Warsaw today — on behalf of the United States, on behalf of the NATO Alliance — to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Poland’s security.” -- Speaking at the “Freedom Day” event in a historic square by the Royal Castle, the president said he would use the full might of the American armed forces to protect Poland and other Eastern European allies, and he called out Russia as a threat to regional security and democracy. -- “Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia,” he said. “We refuse to allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define the 21st.” -- The remarks were a startling reminder that even as Obama tries to turn the page on more than a decade of war and point U.S. foreign policy in a new direction, he is consumed by the challenges of predecessors from decades ago: namely, defending democracy in Europe. Even as he declares “the days of empires and sphere of influences are over,” he is still fighting an old superpower that is practicing the geopolitical warfare of the last century. -- On the second day of his European tour, Obama spoke at a moment of deep unrest. Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have upended the widely held belief that territorial sovereignty was inviolable in the Europe of the 21st century. -- But what was striking about the speech, a centerpiece of Obama’s trip to Europe this week, was not just another commitment to regional security but his broader message about supporting the aspirations of democratic movements across the world. -- Obama did not describe, however, how his administration would further the cause of freedom across the world — a notoriously difficult challenge at the same time it is trying to make progress in other foreign policy areas, including counterterrorism and trade. -- “We stand together because we know that the spirit of Warsaw and Budapest and Prague and Berlin stretches to wherever the longing for freedom stirs in human hearts, whether in Minsk or Caracas, Damascus or Pyongyang,” Obama said. -- The president said this was especially clear in Ukraine, where he drew a direct line between the leaders of Poland’s democratic movement in the 1980s and those who protested the previous pro-Moscow government in Ukraine, calling them “the heirs of Solidarity — men and women like you who dared to challenge a bankrupt regime.” -- “Robbed by a corrupt regime, Ukrainians demanded a government that served them. Beaten and bloodied, they refused to yield,” Obama said. -- Earlier in the day, Obama met with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko, who won the country’s May 25 presidential election, and said he represents a new future for Ukraine. Poroshenko, Obama said at the end of a bilateral meeting, “understands the aspirations and hopes of the Ukrainian people.” -- On Tuesday in Warsaw, Obama released a $1 billion proposal to bolster the U.S. military presence in the region in hopes of reassuring the Polish people and other Eastern Europeans that the United States remains committed to their common defense. - More, Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washingtonpost

California primary kicks off divisive election season for Democrats --- (Reuters) - Californians headed to the polls on Tuesday for a primary election highlighting rifts in the state's dominant Democratic party, as incumbent labor-backed candidates fought reformers positioning themselves to take on unions in several races. -- The poll to choose candidates for governor, secretary of state and numerous legislative and congressional offices, was the kickoff to what may be a long and politically bloody election season for Democrats, as the state's open primary system allows the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to square off against each other in November, and in many cases both will be Democrats. -- "It’s going to be like scorpions in a bottle," said political analyst David Mark, editor of Politix, a Palo Alto- based website. --- In Los Angeles, 18 candidates were certified to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Congressman Henry Waxman, including former City Council member and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, State Senator Ted Lieu and New Age inspirational author Marianne Williamson. -- The earliest, partial returns showed a surprising lead by Republican Elan Carr in the heavily Democratic district, although that could change with later results. -- The two who received the most votes Tuesday will square off in a November contest expected to get ugly quickly, Mark said. -- Several races involve candidates who have been allied with the state's powerful labor unions running against fellow Democrats who are not. -- In the contest for Superintendent of Education, incumbent Tom Torlakson, with strong financial backing from teachers unions, held a commanding lead in early returns against former charter school executive Marshall Tuck. -- Tuck had called for changes abhorrent to labor, including a lessening of seniority protections for teachers. -- Silicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda, who pushed for higher minimum wages and has strong support among labor unions, held a commanding lead, with 12 percent of the votes counted in his Silicon Valley district. -- Early returns appeared to show that his opponent in November would be fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, a lawyer and former U.S. Commerce Department official, who has support from powerful tech leaders, including Facebook executive and "Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg. -- "It’s the sort of old school labor establishment versus tech start-up clash I think we’ll see more of in coming years," said Mark. --- In the race for governor, the top vote-getter in early returns was incumbent Jerry Brown, a Democrat who has steered the state on a moderate course and has high approval ratings. - More,

U.S. pledges $1B to boost military presence in E. Europe, urges NATO allies to boost funding --- WARSAW — President Obama pledged his ironclad commitment Tuesday to the defense of Europe and proposed as much as $1 billion in additional spending to bolster the U.S. military presence in Poland and neighboring countries, part of a strategy to reassure nervous allies and check Russia’s encroachment into the region. -- Standing beside Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski at the start of a four-day tour of Europe, Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that he will face additional sanctions if he escalates the situation in Ukraine and urged him to take steps to resolve it diplomatically. “We have prepared economic costs on Russia that can escalate if we continue to see Russia actively destabilizing one of its neighbors,” Obama said. -- On Friday, Obama and Putin are both set to attend a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. While French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron have scheduled meetings with Putin outside the event, Obama has not. -- “Mr. Putin has a choice to make . . . that’s what I’ll tell him if I see him publicly,” Obama said. -- Even as he proposed new funding to reassure Eastern Europe and put Russia on notice, Obama also sought to send a message to other NATO allies farther to the West who have long resisted increasing their own defense spending. -- As Obama spoke in Warsaw, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was lecturing his NATO counterparts in Brussels on “stepping forward . . . when their own security is threatened.” -- “As President Obama asks the United States Congress and the American people to support increased investment in European security, we are asking our European allies to do the same,” Hagel said. Only a handful of NATO members meet the alliance benchmark of spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. -- The spending argument is not a new one, but administration officials from Obama on down believe they have a potent new argument in Russia’s Ukraine aggression, right at NATO’s doorstep. The alliance, they argue, needs to return to its first principles of defending itself, after two decades of operations far afield in the Balkans and Afghanistan. -- More, Washingtonpost,

Diego Cordovez, U.N. negotiator who brokered Soviet exit from Afghanistan, dies at 78 --- Diego Cordovez, an abidingly patient U.N. diplomat who coaxed — from warring parties who would not speak to each other — a series of agreements that led to the Soviet Union’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, died May 24 in Quito. He was 78. -- His death was announced in a statement by a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. No cause was cited. -- Born in Ecuador and trained as a lawyer, Mr. Cordovez joined the staff of the United Nations in his late 20s and contributed to the resolution, or attempted resolution, of crises around the world. -- He was best known for his role as a U.N. under secretary general for political affairs during the conflict in Afghanistan, which pitted the Soviet-backed Kabul government against insurgent Muslim mujahideen, who received support from the United States. -- One of the final proxy battles of the Cold War, it was a brutal conflict that, according to estimates at the time, killed one in 15 Afghans and forced one out of three from the country. -- Mr. Cordovez was credited with deploying his considerable forbearance, an irresistible sense of humor and a more than occasional cigar to achieve a successful end to the negotiations. -- From the outset, he faced a daunting task. Initially the Soviets, who had invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and maintained 115,000 troops in the country, rejected U.N. brokerage of a peace agreement. Afghan guerrillas refused to negotiate with the Kabul government. Pakistan, which was dispatched to represent the guerrillas, was similarly opposed to face-to-face talks. -- Mr. Cordovez approached the problem by first dealing separately with the various sides. He gradually moved the adversaries closer to each other — first literally, then diplomatically — by placing their representatives in separate but nearby rooms at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and scurrying back and forth. -- Mr. Cordovez also dashed to and from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the United States. He did not take notes during his meetings — “so that nobody could pin [me] down,” he told The Washington Post. -- At times, the talks assumed comical qualities. Guards who had been ordered to keep the parties away from each other reportedly locked representatives in bathrooms to prevent unplanned encounters. -- When the negotiations seemed unpromising, Mr. Cordovez affected a labored gait — a message to observers that the process was still limping along. -- “It has happened that everybody has given up except myself,” Mr. Cordovez told an interviewer. “Not to give up was my duty.” -- The Geneva agreements that provided for the Soviet pullout were signed in 1988 by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the United States. Although the accords were regarded as a monumental achievement, Afghanistan continued to confront persistent internal tumult. -- Two years after the agreement, Mr. Cordovez wrote in a commentary for The Post that during the negotiations, “American and Pakistani officials expressed absolute conviction that the key was the Soviet withdrawal and that after it was completed ‘everything else would fall into place.’ ” -- He continued, “This has unfortunately not happened yet.” - More, Emily Langer,

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Republicans demand hearings in Congress over soldier's release -- (Reuters) - President Barack Obama set a dangerous precedent by swapping five Taliban prisoners for a captured U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and may have broken the law, members of Congress said on Monday as they pressed for public hearings on the issue. -- Fueling criticism of the decision to swap Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba were accusations by some soldiers that the Idaho native was a deserter who cost the lives of several comrades. -- The State Department said it considered Bergdahl "a member of the military who was detained while in combat." The Pentagon said it was unable to confirm media reports that troops had been killed in operations trying to locate Bergdahl following his June 2009 disappearance. -- "There have been several looks into the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, but we've never publicly said anything, primarily because we haven't had a chance to speak with Sergeant Bergdahl himself," said Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. -- The White House pushed back against Republican criticism that the administration may have broken the law by releasing the five Taliban leaders without giving Congress 30 days notice. Officials said lawmakers had been briefed for years on efforts to free Bergdahl, including a potential prisoner swap. -- White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the deal to secure Bergdahl's release "should not have been a surprise" to lawmakers. -- "We did not have 30 days to wait to get this done," McDonough said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "And when you're commander-in-chief, you have to act when there's an opportunity for action." -- Congressman Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, dismissed the White House's portrayal of events leading to Bergdahl's release as urgent and sensitive. In comments on CNN he called it "nonsense" and an "excuse to try to violate or certainly circumvent the law". -- Republican lawmakers on the Armed Services panels in both the Senate and House called for public hearings into the prisoner exchange. The Senate panel scheduled a closed session next week to hear testimony on the issue from senior defense officials. -- "The question is ... by getting the return of Sgt. Bergdahl, are you placing in danger the lives of Americans in the future, and I believe you are," Arizona Senator John McCain told reporters at the U.S. Capitol. - More,

Qatar allowing freed Taliban men to move freely in country: Gulf official --- (Reuters) - Qatar has moved five Afghan Taliban prisoners freed in exchange for a U.S. soldier to a residential compound and will let them move freely in the country, a senior Gulf official said on Tuesday, a step likely to be scrutinized by Washington. -- U.S. officials have referred to the release of the Islamist militants as a transfer and said they would be subject to certain restrictions in Qatar. One of the officials said that would include a minimum one-year ban on them traveling outside of Qatar as well as monitoring of their activities. -- "All five men received medical checks and they now live with their families in an accommodation facility in Doha," the Gulf source, who declined to be identified, told Reuters. "They can move around freely within the country." -- Following the deal under which freed the last American soldier held in Afghanistan was freed, concerns have been expressed by some U.S. intelligence officials and congressional advisers over the role of the Gulf Arab state as a bridge between Washington and the world of radical Islam. -- The Gulf official said the Taliban men, who have been granted Qatari residency permits, will not be treated like prisoners while in Doha and no U.S. officials will be involved in monitoring their movement while in the country. -- "Under the deal they have to stay in Qatar for a year and then they will be allowed to travel outside the country... They can go back to Afghanistan if they want to," the official said. -- The five, who had been held at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba since 2002, arrived in Qatar on Sunday where U.S. security personnel handed them over to Qatari authorities in the Al Udeid area west of Doha, site of a U.S. military base. -- U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been held for nearly five years by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and his release followed years of on-off negotiations. -- A diplomatic source said Qatar has flown in family members of the five released Taliban men and gave them accommodation paid for by the government. -- On Sunday, Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah told a news conference that Doha got involved in the case because it was a “humanitarian cause". He did not elaborate. -

کرزی: دولتي چارواکي دې بې پرې وي - دعبدالله په دفتر کې دچارواکو غونډه --- دافغانستان ولسمشر حامد کرزي په یوه فرمان کې له دولتي چارواکو غوښتي چې دولسمشرۍ دانتخاباتو په دوهم پړاو کې د چا ملاتړ ونه کړي. دولسمشر کرزي له دې فرمان سره په یووخت په ټولنیزو رسنیو کې دعبدالله عبدالله دانتخاباتو په دفتر کې دکرزي دلومړي مرستیال، دفاع وزیر او یو شمېر نورو چارواکو عکس خپور شو چې دټاکنو په اړه سلا مشورې کوي. -- همداراز دپکتیا والي جمعه خان همدرد دافغانستان په شمالي ولایتونو کې له جنرال دوستم سره په انتخاباتي غونډو کې ولیدل شو. دولسمشر کرزي په فرمان کې ویل شوي چې چارواکي دې خلک نه هڅوي چې چا ته رایې ورکړي او نه به کوم ځانګړي کاندید ته اسانتیاوې برابروي. کرزي په خپل فرمان کې دا هم ویلي چې چارواکي حق نه لري چې دانتخاباتو خپلواک کمیسیون ته څوک دکارکوونکي په توګه معرفي کړي. -- دانتخاباتو خپلواک کمیسیون دحمل دشپاړسمې نېټې دولسمشرۍ په انتخاباتو کې خپل یو شمېر کارکوونکي ددرغلیو له کبله له کاره وایستل او دهغو پر ځای یې دنویو کسانو په ګومارلو پیل کړی دی. دولسمشر حامد کرزي په فرمان کې دا هم ویل شوي چې حکومتي چارواکي له وسلو او ساتونکو سره دخپلو رایو داستعمالولو لپاره درایو مرکزونو ته دتلو حق نه لري. په فرمان کې ویل شوي چې که چا ددې فرمان سرغړونه وکړه عدلي او قضايي اورګانونو ته به معرفي شي. -- دا هغه خبره ده چې ګومان نه کېږي څوک ورڅخه وبېرېږي ځکه چې څوک ګومان نه کوي چې حکومت یې د عملي کولو توان او اراده ولري. نن په ټولنیزو رسنیو کې دولسمشر دلومړي مرستیال یونس قانوني، دفاع وزیر بسم الله محمدي، دبلخ والي عطا محمد نور او څو نور وزیرانو عکسونه خپاره شول چې دعبدالله عبدالله په انتخاباتي دفتر کې دټاکنو ددوهم دور په اړه خبرې کوي. -- همدې حال کې دولسمشرۍ دواړه کاندیدان خپلو انتخاباتي مبارزو ته دوام ورکوي. عبدالله عبدالله نن بادغیس ولایت ته لاړ او دخپلو پلویانو په غونډه کې یې ګډون وکړ. اشرف غني احمدزی جوزجان او فاریاب ولایتونو ته لاړ او په دواړو ولایتونو کې یې دخپلو پلویانو په غونډو کې خبرې وکړې. - تاند

Leading Pakistani politician arrested in London --- KARACHI, Pakistan — British police arrested one of Pakistan’s most well-known and divisive politicians Tuesday on suspicion of money-laundering, sparking fears of violence in his power base of Karachi where businesses closed early and residents rushed home. -- Police in Britain do not name suspects until they are charged. But when asked about Altaf Hussain, the Metropolitan Police said a 60-year-old man had been detained Tuesday morning at a residence in northwest London. An official with his Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi, Faisal Subzwari, confirmed the arrest. -- Hussain, who is 60, heads the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, one of Pakistan’s major political parties that often has been accused by opponents of using violence to bolster its power. -- He has lived in self-imposed exile in Britain since 1992 but regularly addresses large gatherings in Pakistan by telephone. He is known for stirring speeches that can whip his followers into a frenzy. -- Hussain’s arrest sent shockwaves through Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. The teeming metropolis, a port city of more than 18 million people, is vital to the country’s economy, and any blowback from Hussain’s arrest could have serious repercussions for Pakistan as a whole. -- Immediately after news of his arrest aired on television, residents started shuttering their businesses and going home, fearful of possible violence. - More, Associated Press,

U.S. announces $1 billion program to boost military presence in Eastern Europe --- WARSAW — President Obama pledged his ironclad commitment Tuesday to the defense of Europe and proposed as much as $1 billion in additional spending to bolster the U.S. military presence in Poland and its neighbors, part of a strategy to reassure nervous allies and check Russia’s encroachment into the region. -- Standing beside Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski at the start of a four-day tour of Europe, Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that he will face additional sanctions if he escalates the crisis in Ukraine, and urged him to take steps to resolve it diplomatically. -- “We have prepared economic costs on Russia that can escalate if we continue to see Russia actively destabilizing one of its neighbors,” said Obama, who will see the Russian leader Friday at a summit marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day. “Mr. Putin has a choice to make.” -- Earlier, addressing a joint display of U.S. and Polish troops, Obama gave the first of several reassurances about U.S. commitment to the defense of the new democracies in Eastern Europe. -- “Our commitment to Poland’s security, as well as the security of our allies in Central and Eastern Europe, is a cornerstone of our own security, and it is sacrosanct,” he said, flanked by F-16s that are part of a joint training program between the two countries.-- European leaders, especially in the east, have expressed anxiety that the United States will not want to focus attention or resources on the Russian threat — a concern that intensified after Obama seemed to narrow the case for using military action in a high-profile speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point last week. -- His trip this week, which includes meetings with a host of Eastern and Central European leaders, Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko and Group of Seven allies, is geared toward making clear that he is in no way abandoning longtime U.S. commitments to Europe. -- His proposal to spend as much as $1 billion on increased military exercises in Eastern Europe, which must be authorized by Congress, was well received by Eastern European leaders, although it fell short of their wish that the United States would establish a permanent military presence in Eastern Europe. -- European leaders argue that Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and support since then for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have dramatically changed the security situation in Eastern Europe and put other countries at risk. - More, Zachary A. Goldfarb,

Obama: Congress consulted 'for some time' about possible prisoner exchange for Bergdahl --- WARSAW, Poland - President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended his decision to release five Afghan detainees from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for an American soldier's freedom, saying his administration had consulted with Congress "for some time" about that possibility. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff left open the possibility of desertion charges against the soldier. -- Gen. Martin Dempsey noted that U.S. military leaders have been accused of "looking away from misconduct" and said "it's premature" to assume they would do so in the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, despite his five years as a Taliban detainee. -- Dempsey, in an Associated Press interview, said the Army may still pursue an investigation that could lead to desertion charges against Bergdahl, who was captured by insurgents in Afghanistan after he apparently walked away from his base in 2009. -- Obama, meanwhile, brushed aside questions about the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's capture. He said the United States has a "sacred" obligation to not leave men and women in uniform behind. -- "Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity," Obama said during a news conference in Poland as he opened a three-country European visit. "We don't condition that." -- There have long been questions about how Bergdahl disappeared from his unit. The Pentagon concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl walked away, and the military curbed any high-risk rescue plans after an initial flurry of searching. -- Despite the Pentagon's conclusions, Obama said the government was not currently seeking to punish Bergdahl as a deserter. -- "Our main priority is making sure the transition that he's undergoing after five years in captivity is successful," he said. -- Days after his rescue, Bergdahl, 28, of Hailey, Idaho, was in stable condition at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. He is yet to be reunited with his parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, also of Hailey, Idaho, who waged a tireless campaign to keep their son's story in the spotlight. -- Questions were also mounting in the U.S. over the way Bergdahl's freedom was secured: Five high-level members of the Taliban were released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sent to Qatar. The five, who will have to stay in Qatar for a year before going back to Afghanistan, include former ministers in the Taliban government, commanders and one man who had direct ties to the late al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. --- Republicans in Congress criticized the agreement and complained about not having been consulted, citing a law that requires that Congress be notified 30 days before a prisoner is released from Guantanamo. Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee said the Pentagon notified the panel by phone on Saturday that the exchange was occurring in the next five hours. -- Obama suggested that lawmakers were aware of the prospect that the U.S. could agree to a prisoner swap with the Taliban. And he defended his administration's handling of the formal notifications, saying that when the opportunity to free Bergdahl presented itself, "We seized that opportunity." -- Officials said delaying Bergdahl's transfer in order to comply with the congressional notification rules would have interfered with two of the president's constitutional authorities: protecting the lives of Americans abroad and protecting U.S. soldiers. -- "Because such interference would significantly alter the balance between Congress and the president, and could even raise constitutional concerns, we believe it is fair to conclude that Congress did not intend that the administration would be barred from taking the action it did in these circumstances," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement released shortly after Obama's news conference. -- Obama has previously expressed concern about the congressional notification requirement, which was passed as part of the 2014 defence bill. In a statement that accompanied his signing of that legislation, Obama said the executive branch must have flexibility "to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers." - Julie Pace, The Associated Press