Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 01, 2008

Blackberry Nuts in Afghanistan

Two U.S. professors embed with their military in Afghanistan and report on the big success their:

[W]e sat down for the requisite command PowerPoint presentation.

They were able to show that things are better in Afghanistan. Compared with the Taliban era, progress today is in fact staggering. Perhaps the most-revealing gauge is the country’s introduction to the information age: our BlackBerries worked almost everywhere we visited in Afghanistan ...

via Joshua Foust who takes the mess apart

Posted by b on August 1, 2008 at 14:27 UTC | Permalink


black box theater



blackgold (Texas tea)

black opium

black ops




black president

dark knight

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 1 2008 16:07 utc | 1

Shoulda added a blackkwater line...

Blackwater now a "private CIA"

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 1 2008 16:28 utc | 2

They obviously had a great deal of contact with the Afghan people, judging from the pictures: all the pictures were either of parked aircraft, interiors of aircraft, or looking at the ground from aircraft. Appropriate analogy for their understanding of the situation on the ground....

On the Blackberry front: the availability of cell signals throughout Afghanistan just makes it that much easier to use cell phone triggered IEDs. The Powerpoint presentation just reinforces how out of touch the presenters are.

Posted by: Peter VE | Aug 1 2008 16:38 utc | 3, wine or sherry
wine, wine blackberry...

spo-dee-o-dee drinkin' wine

-Jerry Lee Lewis

Posted by: ralphieboy | Aug 1 2008 17:39 utc | 4

Whoever wrote the headline, didn't read the piece - five GIs and one civilian ...

4 soldiers killed in eastern Afghanistan: NATO

KABUL — NATO says four soldiers and one civilian have been killed in a roadside blast in eastern Afghanistan.

It was a bloody start to the month in what's already been a deadly year for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The five were killed Friday in Kunar province. A fifth NATO death, reported earlier, also occurred Friday in Khost, another eastern province.

A question - these are U.S. troops NOT under NATO command. Why is NATO announcing their death?

Posted by: b | Aug 1 2008 19:04 utc | 5

smackwater blackwater jack bought himself a shotgun
& the blackberries all swung loose
the professors both looked spruce
blackwater laughed about the noose
as they shot down the congregation.

"You can't talk to a man
with a shotgun in his hand, shotgun
in his hand."

"you can't talk to a man when he don't wanna understand
shotgun in his hand."

Posted by: Copeland | Aug 2 2008 2:27 utc | 6

With apologies to Carole King.

Posted by: Copeland | Aug 2 2008 2:49 utc | 7

Surgar Weekly English Edition, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Afghan Army secures Kabul-Herat Highway

Officials of the Afghan National Army say that their forces won't be redeployed along the Kabul-Herat highway temporarily, but will provide security for the major transportation corridor indefinitely.

While military officials admit that they have reduced security posts on the highway, they claim to have strengthened the remaining posts in order to patrol effectively, and defend themselves against opposition attacks.

There were high expectations for improved security after the military settled on the highway, but daily there are still armed clashes and other security issue being reported.

Afghan security officials have also begun efforts to secure the highways between Kabul-Kandahar and Kandahar-Herat, acting under orders of president Hamid Karzai to improve transportation security, after he transferred the security command from the interior ministry to the defense ministry.

Meanwhile local police officials in the southern zone have also reported improved security measures, after supply truck drivers had stopped their vehicles as a protest for ten days, and had warned the officials unless their security is insured, they will not deliver supplies.


Gen Nayebi: National Army able to field operations

The commander of the 205th Corps in Kandahar says that Afghan National Army now has the ability to perform military operations and respond to every kind of enemy attack effectively.

General Gul Agha Nayebi spoke at a news conference in Kandahar Airport on 27th of July, saying that Afghan military forces has prevented a huge attack by armed Taliban on the Kandahar-Kabul highway.

General Nayebi explained that a Afghan National Army supply convoy was on the highway from Kabul to Kandahar on 24th of July, when it was reported that more than two hundred fifty armed Taliban settled in Jarbazargan area of Zabul province to ambush the convoy. Nayebi said that forces of the second brigade third battalion of the 205th corps reached the area and started fighting the Taliban.

According to military estimates, the fight between Taliban and Afghan National Army lasted for three hours. "During the fight a hundred armed Taliban were killed and two soldiers of the National Army were injured," Nayebi added. The Taliban dead are said to include several foreigners and their commander Molawi Abdul Rahman.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, rejected the Army claims, but he confirmed the deaths of their five foreign allies.

Speaking to Surgar Weekly by phone from an unknown location, Ahmadi claims that two police ranger vehicles were destroyed and fifteen soldiers of the Afghan National Army were killed.


Holland to train Afghan teachers, build schools

Afghan education officials say that Holland has vowed to provide financial aid in the amount of seven million dollars to fund training for Afghan teachers, and to build tens of new schools.

According to the officials, funds will go to reconstruct tens of schools in the central and southern areas of the country and also go to train several teachers in the southern provinces.

Ministry officials say that they plan to send one hundred ten teachers from southern Uruzgan, Helmand, Kandahar, Daikonde, and Zabul provinces to India in order to get a higher education for three years, so that they could gain mastery in the fields of teaching.

Officials explained that the program is financially funded by Holland and will be started with the help of UN children aid organization UNICEF, claiming the first phase of the program will be completed in two years.

Holland has two thousand troops under the lead of coalition forces in Afghanistan, settled in southern unstable province of Uruzgan. The Dutch forces are also taking an effective role in local reconstruction works.


Kandahar residents lack water and electricity

As the summer weather becomes hot, the electricity system in Kandahar city is becoming unstable, which has also affected the water distribution pumping system and slowed the supply of potable water into the city.

Although the Kandahar residents continue to complain to both the local and foreign press about the shortages, still officials have not been able to solve the electricity problem.

Kandahar energy officials had vowed three weeks ago to bring new electrical generators to the city to provide enough electricity to the residents, but local people say that since that time months have passed with no progress being made.

Officials estimate that the city needs twenty megawatts of electricity but at the moment generators can provide only eight mega watts, and they can not provide electricity to all areas of Kandahar city.

President Hamid Karzai had also promised to repair the electricity system in Kajakai Dam with the help of USAID, but due to war and insecurity in the area, he has not been able to achieve his aim.

City water officials say the main reason for not providing water is the the lack of electricity, and say that if they are provided with enough power, they will be able to provide water to all the residents of the city.

According to the water officials, they will start working on a large water development project intended to provide the residents of the city with clean drinking water, and after this project completion the water problems will be solved.


Zabul to provide clean drinking water

Officials of the Zabul reconstruction and rural development office say that in near future they will drill wills and provide common people with clean drinking water.

Although the officials have not declared the exact numbers of wells to be drilled, they say that there will be enough for thousands in the area to drink clean water. Despite the difficulties, officials seek to complete these water well projects with the help of regional assemblies.

Officials say that with these water well projects many jobless people will get the opportunity to work and also be given food aid in repayment, however Zabul is seriously affected by armed instability and insecurity, so that the process of reconstruction works has slowed.


Officials reserve 200,000 tons of emergency fuel

Afghan energy officials say that in order to control the increasing price of fuel in the country, they want to import 200,000 tons of fuel into Afghanistan, buying the fuel from central Asia, Russia, and Iran and holding it in several strategic reserves in the country.

According to the officials, they have twenty million dollars in reserve funds to buy the reserve fuel, claiming that the reserves will help to keep fuel prices low in the country. There is also a plan to import thousands of cubic meters of natural gas into the country from the central Asian suppliers.

Work experts call the main reason for high prices of fuel in Afghanistan the increasing insecurity in the country, and trade barrier abandonment of fuel imported from Iran illegally, causing the government to prepare their selves ahead of time with fuel reserves for the coming winter.


Two thirds of schools closed in Helmand

The recent Afghan opposition insurgency has harmed the education system in southern Helmand province. Only fifty nine out of one hundred sixty seven schools remain open, the rest have been closed following arson or threats of violence.

The governor of Helmand province, Gulab Mangal, spoke to tribal leaders of the province to urge them them to reopen the closed schools. He called the main reason for insecurity in the province the lack of education, and hoped if the closed schools can be reopened, that may be a sign that violence in the province will decrease.

Tribal leaders showed their readiness to reopen schools but were concerned that not only government opposition groups are involved in burning schools but some school officials are also involved.

Reports show that 350,000 students are now unable to go to schools, mostly in the southern zone.


60,000 students robbed of education

Formal tabulation by education minister of Afghanistan, Hanif Atmar, has found 60,000 Afghan students (boys and girls) failed to get an education last year, after nearly sixty schools burnt by Afghan opposition groups.

The minister told a news conference on 23rd of July that thirty schools will be built including one religious institute in every province of the country, saying that after these new schools are in operation, one million Afghan students will be able to get an education.

The new school construction work was planned to begin last year, but Mr. Atmar claimed that corruption in governmental and aid organizations have stalled the process. The minister signed construction contracts for thirteen new schools and said he will expand the reconstruction process.

Because it is difficult to build and secure new schools in some areas of the country, the deputy head of education ministry, Sadiq Patman, said during an interview with BBC that the ministry wants to turn over the building security responsibilities to local residents.

Despite their declared intention to reopen closed schools in the past, officials of the education ministry have so far failed to do so.


Abuse against Afghan women increasing

On the one hand, Afghan women have received their human rights after the new national government was established in Kabul, but on the other hand the use of brutal force against women is still increasing day by day.

Failure to get an education, threats by unidentified men, prohibition on working, kidnapping and killing by unidentified men, having no role in a community, and forced marriages, all against human rights laws, are the problems Afghan women are still facing today.

A suicide in Charyakar center of Parwan province, the murder of two women in Ghazni province by armed men, and the kidnapping of a women teacher in Farah province are some recent examples of abuse.

According to officials of the womens affairs ministry, they have organized preaching programs based on common sense, and with these programs they claim to have reduced abuse against women somewhat.

Human rights of women in the southern provinces are more trampled on in Afghanistan than compared to the north. In southern provinces most women are prohibiting from working in the offices or outside their homes, and are prohibiting their girls from going to school.

Work experts say that unless basic projects are begun to improve the life of common people in the country and unless those who are poor are provided with jobs, then it will be difficult to solve the abuse of Afghan women.


Residents of Kareez bazaar say 'all secure'

Local residents of Kandahar's southern Kareez Bazaar (Ansaari Maina) called this area the most stable and secured area of the city, and reject the rumors that Taliban intend to disrupt the bazaar area.

Ansaari Maina is an agricultural area of Kandahar.

The residents' comments came in response to claims by a taxi driver that the Taliban warned the area head, Hajji Abdullah, to leave because the Taliban intend to begin attacks.

Locals call these rumors baseless and groundless, saying that maybe the taxi driver had personal enmity against Abdullah, and might have made the false rumor.


US military claims precision air strikes

In June alone, 646 bombs and missiles were fired in Afghanistan, the second highest monthly total since the end of major combat operations in 2002, when the Taliban were routed.

Senior Pentagon officials said more stringent rules of engagement now in effect for Afghanistan specify the acceptable levels of risk to civilians for a priority attack. Their assessment is apparently that six civilian deaths are an acceptable loss for every high value target killed. Air Force lawyers vet all the airstrikes approved by the operational air commanders, but no proof has been offered of that review.

“In their deliberate targeting, the Air Force has all but eliminated civilian casualties in Afghanistan,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst with Human Rights Watch. “They have very effective collateral damage mitigation procedures.”

However, following on the indiscriminate slaughter of 47 Afghan wedding party goers near the village of Kacu in the eastern Nuristan province, just recently in Farah province, four Afghan police and five civilians were killed in another apparently 'mistaken' air strike by NATO forces.


Calls for more drug treatment centers

Officials of the anti narcotics administration in Kandahar say that with the increasing numbers of drug users in the province, available drug treatment centers are inadequate to provide treatment for them all.

The director of anti narcotics administration, Gul Mohammad Shokran, in facing the issue of inadequate care and counseling, suggested construction of a bigger hospital in Kandahar to include narcotics-abuse treatment.

Two health care centers are actively treating drug users in the province, however, with their small capacity and the rapidly increasing numbers of drug users, more treatment centers are needed, as well as increased efforts at prevention, interdiction and providing alternate crop subsidies.

Shokran claimed that the anti-narcotics administration has reduced poppy cultivation to zero in ten districts of Kandahar, and that efforts are in progress to reduce poppy cultivation in the rest of the districts. He stated that they will work to prevent every kind of narcotics trade, including poppy, and they will arrest those who are involved.

The estimated numbers of narcotic drug users in the country recently is said to be between one and one-and-a-half million.

Increases in narcotics cultivation, the increasing numbers of jobless people, lack of education, peer pressure, sales ring recruitment and general economic problems are all reasons leading to narcotics abuse.


Taliban rejected claims of Mullah Ab Rahim's capture

Several officials in Helmand province have claimed the capture of Taliban Mullah Abdul Rahim in Pakistan, but the Taliban refutes this.

The governor of Helmand province Mohammad Gulab Mangal told Wakht news agency that Mullah Abdul Rahim was captured in the Quetta related areas by international troops.

The government of Pakistan has not announced formal comments about the capture of Mullah Abdul Rahim.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, told Surgar Weekly by phone that Mullah Abdul Rahim is still present in Afghanistan, performing his duty as a commander in the war of opposition. He added that with the arrival of more American troops in Afghanistan the Taliban intends to increase their attacks on occupation forces.

This is the first time operations performed by international troops are being reported from Pakistan.

Earlier in the year, Afghan president Hamid Karzai charged Pakistan with interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, and demanded that cross border terrorism stop, or Afghan and occupation force teams would carry their operations against terrorists into Pakistan.


US University to combat wheat rust disease

Cornell University has received a $26.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch a broad-based global partnership to combat a deadly wheat disease, dubbed Ug-99, that poses a threat to global food grain security.

It is estimated that as much as 80 percent of all wheat varieties planted in Asia and Africa are susceptible to the wheat stem rust. The spores of wheat rust are carried by wind over long distances and across continents.

The Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project will focus on developing improved rust resistant wheat varieties to protect resource-poor farmers from catastrophic crop losses in vulnerable regions, particularly India, but also Pakistan, Afghanistan, East Africa, China, the Middle East, and North Africa.

A hybrid Kenyan wheat strain thought to be resistant to Ug-99 has been released for limited production trials in the US. The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative has called for a global meeting on the issue in March, 2009.

The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) representative in Afghanistan is Dr. Javid H. Rizvi, in Kabul.

Posted by: Slam Alaykum | Aug 2 2008 4:33 utc | 8

Surgar Weekly English Edition, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Health officials: unvaccinated children get polio

Officials of the Kandahar provincial health department say that in southern zone thirty out of one hundred children are getting polio because their families are prohibiting them from being vaccinated, or due to lack of available funds for the program.

Kandahar Health department director Dr. Abdul Qayom Pokhla told reporters that they have registered ten positive polio cases in southern zone children since the beginning of the year, and expressed his concerns over the increasing number of cases of polio compared to last year.

Dr. Pokhla urged local residents to help the ministry administer the vaccine process and let their children under five years in age be vaccinated.

Kandahar vaccine application program head Dr Mamon Taheri said that six of the ten new polio cases were in Kandahar, two in Helmand, and two more in Uruzgan province, showing his concerns that every year during the vaccine campaign hundreds of children are not being vaccinated.

According to Dr. Taheri if all children are not vaccinated, the number of polio cases will increase inexorably and exponentially into an epidemic.

The deputy governor in Kandahar Dr. Ghulam Jilani Hamayoon urged all the tribal leaders, religious scholars, and officials during his speech to a meeting organized for the campaign against polio to help the ministry complete their polio vaccine campaign.

He also urged the representatives of local press agencies to organize programs based on common sense and encourage the people to vaccinate their children against the dangerous disease.


Investors concerned for their security

Afghan investors and businessmen are concerned for their financial security and expressed the fear that unless their security is insured they will shift their wealth into foreign countries and expatriate.

Officials of business and industries affairs say that the recent insecure situation and personal security of the investors compared to the previous years have reduced investment in Afghanistan. According to the officials the increasing numbers of jobless people and declining income of common people has badly effected the investment process. The officials further say that if the security officials don't take serious measures to insure the security of investors, most of them will shift their wealth to other foreign countries.

Spokesman of the Interior ministry Zamarai Bashari claims new security measures are being taken for the security of investors. Mr. Bashari says that they have increased their efforts to insure the security of investors and they have even achieved several successes.

He says that in the near future they will fit surveillance cameras in most of business centers in Kabul to insure better security.

Afghan investors are concerned for their security after the head of Heart businessmen Hajji Ismatullah was killed by unidentified gunmen in Kabul in broad daylight, and his killers stole one million dollars from him.

Although Kabul security officials say they have captured several suspects related to the murder, it is still not cleared whether the captured suspects are related to the murderers of Hajji Ismatullah.


Kabul-Kandahar highway disrupted by violence

Travelers going and coming on the Kabul- Kandahar highway last week say that since the clashes between governmental forces and the armed Taliban have increased, commute times on the highway have doubled.

The travelers claim that fighting and roadside bombs along the highway have destroyed several bridges, and where they were able to travel from Kabul to Kandahar in six hours before, now due to destroyed bridges and road blockages the travel times are nearly ten hours now.

A person who arrived from Kabul to Kandahar said, "two days before we were on the way from Kabul to Kandahar there were a lot of problems, after we traveled for some time we reached a place where a big bridge was destroyed and the highway was blocked and the cars from both sides could not move at the same time so the governmental officials were letting one car from one side then another from the other side to pass the area, we were very thirsty because there was no drinking water"

The traveler, speaking on condition of anonymity, urged high ranking and particularly officials of the common profit ministry to pay attention to reconstruction works on the highway and immediately repair bridges that have recently been destroyed.

He also called on the government opposition groups to consider the safety of common profit places during their clashes, so that common people will not face difficulties while traveling on the lonely stretch of highway.


1,200 US Marines get tour extension

(CNN) -- Approximately 1,200 Marines serving in southwestern Afghanistan will have their tours of duty extended by 30 days, Pentagon and Marine officials said.

Also, 200 additional support troops and several helicopters will be sent to southwestern Afghanistan to help with route clearance, engineering and additional aviation elements, officials said, citing orders that were signed last week.

The Marines have been serving in Farah province as trainers for the Afghan army. They have been repeatedly attacked by insurgents and have been seeking additional firepower.

Earlier this summer, the Pentagon approved plans to extend the tours of about 2,000 Marines serving in combat roles in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

U.S. military commanders say that until more troops are freed up from Iraq, such minor extensions are the only steps they can take to bolster their combat capability in Afghanistan.


Indian, Afghan leaders vow to fight terrorism

Nilofar Suhrawardy | Arab News

NEW DELHI: India yesterday announced fresh aid of $450 million to Afghanistan for development projects and both countries vowed to fight terrorism, weeks after a deadly attack at the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

Afghanistan, India and the United States have accused Pakistan’s spy agency of being involved in the July bombing that killed at least 58 people, including two Indian diplomats.

“It was an attack on the friendship of India and Afghanistan,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said shortly after meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is on a two-day visit to India. “We have agreed that we will not allow terrorism to stand in our way, we will fight it unitedly and with full determination,” Singh said.

India said after the Kabul attack that the peace process with Pakistan was “under stress” because its traditional foe was “inciting terror” inside India and trying to hit its interests abroad.

“We will allocate an additional amount of $450 million over the $750 million announced so far to effectively meet the requirement of our ongoing and forthcoming projects,” Singh added.


International soldier, Afghan judge killed
Afghan News Net

AFP - A US-led coalition soldier was killed in a bomb attack in Kabul on Sunday and a judge was gunned down in southern Afghanistan, authorities said, in new attacks linked to an extremist insurgency.

Another soldier was wounded in the bomb blast on the southeastern outskirts of the capital, the coalition said in a statement.

"A coalition service member was killed and another wounded when their convoy struck an IED (improvised explosive device) this morning in Kabul," it said.

The international forces have lost 150 soldiers in Afghanistan this year, most of them killed in attacks. Six were killed Friday in bombings in the east, where most foreign troops are Americans.

Afghan police said the bomb was planted on a dirt road and appeared to have been remotely detonated. There were no civilian casualties.


Police, bomb-makers among two dozen killed in Afghanistan
Daily Times

KABUL: Militants killed four policemen in an attack on a security post overnight and more than a dozen Taliban-linked militants including two mullahs preparing a bomb in a mosque also died, authorities said on Monday.

Some of the dozens of Taliban who attacked police in the central province of Ghazni were killed in a battle that lasted for about an hour, provincial government spokesman Ismail Jahangir said. A district police chief was one of the four policemen who died, he said, adding, “A big number of Taliban have also been killed, but we don’t exactly know how many.”

US military: The United States military announced that it had killed “several” militants elsewhere in Ghazni. Two men were killed in Paktika province when a waistcoat they were packing with bombs for use in a suicide attack exploded, the government said.

“Two prayer leaders were killed when a suicide vest they were building went off prematurely,” Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said, adding that they were in a mosque near the border with Pakistan. The interior ministry announced separately that police in Uruzgan had killed 11 Taliban-linked militants in operations. Two others died when a mine they were trying to plant in a road went off in the southern province of Kandahar, said police commander Abdul Raziq.

Posted by: Slam Alaykum | Aug 5 2008 6:15 utc | 9

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