Bamiyan Panorama

Bamiyan Panorama

Friday, October 13, 2017

Maida Khal - who will speak for her?

Who will speak for the voiceless?

Who will help the helpless?

Will you?  Will I?  Will the government?

Is Maida Khal still in prison?

Should she be in prison?

What is her crime?

Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle Rescued

Parents of freed US hostage furious with son-in-law for Afghanistan trip

Caitlan Coleman’s father calls Joshua Boyle’s decision to take his pregnant wife to Afghanistan on a backpacking trip ‘unconscionable’

Ashifa Kassam in Toronto and Haroon Janjua in Islamabad
Friday 13 October 2017 14.02 EDT Last modified on Friday 13 October 2017 14.35 EDT

The parents of an American woman who was rescued with her Canadian husband and three children after five years in captivity have said they were elated that the family is safe – but incensed with their son-in-law for taking their daughter to Afghanistan.

“Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable,” Caitlan Coleman’s father, Jim, told ABC News.

Coleman, Joshua Boyle and their children – all of whom were born in captivity – landed in London on Friday afternoon, en route to Canada. Earlier in the day, Boyle spoke to his parents by telephone, telling them that he and his family were safe after the dramatic rescue.

Speaking to a Canadian reporter on Thursday, Boyle reflected on the toll the past five years had taken. “My family is obviously psychologically and physically shattered by the betrayals and the criminality of what has happened over the past five years,” Boyle told the Toronto Star.

“But we’re looking forward to a new lease on life – to use an overused idiom – and restarting and being able to build a sanctuary for our children and our family in North America.” With a laugh, he added: “I have discovered there is little that cannot be overcome by enough Sufi patience, Irish irreverence and Canadian sanctimony.”

The couple – who met as teenagers online and bonded over their love of Star Wars fan sites – were abducted in 2012 during a backpacking trip that began in Russia and took them through Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan before arriving in northern Afghanistan.

Coleman was pregnant with their first child at the time. The couple were believed to be held by the Haqqani network, a group deemed a terrorist organisation by the US.

Boyle, now 34, had long been fascinated with terrorism and national security, telling a reporter in 2009: “Anything related to terrorism on Wikipedia, I wrote, pretty much.” Years earlier he had become a spokesman for Omar Khadr, the Canadian held for 10 years at Guantánamo Bay after being captured as a teenager during a firefight at an al-Qaida compound in Afghanistan, leading to a brief marriage with Zaynab Khadr, Omar’s sister.

The family’s ordeal ended with a dramatic rescue on Wednesday. Pakistani troops, operating on intelligence provided by the United States, had zeroed in on the family, locating them in a fast-moving vehicle near the town of Kohat, some 40 miles from the country’s north-western border with Afghanistan.

At the time, the family was locked in the trunk of a car, Boyle told his family. The last words he heard were “kill the hostages” before a shootout erupted, leaving him with a shrapnel wound.

Pakistani troops fired at the vehicle, bursting its tyres. While they managed to free the hostages, the couple’s captors, however, eluded them, managing to escape on foot.

Soon after the rescue, arrangements were made to bring the family back to North America, John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told reporters on Thursday. “Medical treatment along the way. A lot of this, of course, would be psychological treatment,” he said. “They’ve been essentially living in a hole for five years.”

In Smiths Falls, Ontario, a small town of 9,000 people near Ottawa, Boyle’s parents rejoiced at the news that the family was safe, telling reporters that the family intended to come to Canada.

As they prepared for the family’s return – heading to purchase car seats as they waited to hear when the family would be landing in Canada – they also expressed misgivings for the future.

“I think they’re going to have some, obviously, really tough times,” said Boyle’s mother, Linda. “I don’t think they’re aware because they kept themselves strong for so long, for each other and for the kids. But I think that it’s going to catch up with them and they’re probably going to have some real crashes, I expect. But we’re here for them.”

The past five years had been punctuated by letters and videos from the couple, each offering a glimpse into the horrors the couple were living.

A video sent last December showed the couple pleading for their governments to negotiate with their captors. “My children have seen their mother defiled,” Coleman told the camera flatly. She described their years-long ordeal as “the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves”.

A letter sent to Boyle’s parents and shared with the Toronto Star last year detailed the lengths the couple had gone to in order to deliver their second child; hiding the pregnancy from captors until Boyle delivered the child in darkness, guided only by a flashlight clenched between his teeth.

“The astonished captors were good and brought all our post-partum needs, so he is now fat and healthy, praise God,” Boyle wrote in the letter to his parents. “We are trying to keep spirits high for the children and play Beautiful Life,” he added, believed to be a reference to Life is Beautiful, the Italian film in which a father shields his son from the realities of a Nazi concentration camp by pretending they are in a game.

In Pennsylvania, the Colemans described their joy at hearing their daughter’s voice over the phone for the first time in years. But her father Jim added that he was angry with Boyle for taking his daughter to Afghanistan.

He also expressed dismay at reports that Boyle had refused to allow the family to leave Pakistan on a US military plane on Thursday. “I don’t know what five years in captivity would do to somebody, but if it were me, and I saw a US aircraft, US soldiers, I would be running for it.”

Boyle’s father said on Thursday that his son did not want to board the plane because it was headed to the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan rather than North America. He dismissed remarks by a US official that Boyle was concerned that he might face scrutiny by the Americans over his links to Khadr.

News of the rescue was heralded on Thursday by Donald Trump, who described it as a “positive moment” in the country’s fraught relationship with Pakistan.

“Today they are free,” the US president said in a statement. He later praised Pakistan for its willingness to “do more to provide security in the region”, adding that the rescue suggested other “countries are starting to respect the United States of America once again”.

The Bombing of Aleppo

Aleppo used to be a thriving city with history, beauty, and charm. 

Now it is a broken city.  Rivers of blood and piles of children's body parts mixed in with the rubble.  I've chosen to show pictures of architecture here, not the mangled bodies of children.  Thanks to you, Free Syria Regime AND Pro Assad Regime.  Thanks to you.  Your children are broken and dead.  Will Aleppo ever rebuild?  My heart hurts for you, Aleppo. 

The Citadel of Aleppo in 1993.

The Citadel of Aleppo in 2008

Inside the Citadel in 2011.

Some damage

The city of Aleppo with the Old Citadel in the background
The Old City of Aleppo in 2006, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

 The Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo, built between the 8th and 13th centuries

market stalls in the walled ancient part of the city

How the inside of the impressive Shahba Mall used to look Damaged beyond repair: Aleppo's largest commercial shopping centre, Shahba Mall was hit by air-strikes in October 2014Shahba Mall - before and after

Aleppo River & Tawhid Mosque
Image result for aleppo river mosque damage

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Otto Warmbier 'systematically tortured' by N Korea say parents

Otto Warmbier 'systematically tortured' by N Korea say parents

Otto Warmbier is escorted by N Korean guards (image released March 2016)
Image copyrightREUTERS
The parents of Otto Warmbier have shared horrific details of his condition when he arrived home from North Korea.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier told Fox and Friends that the North Koreans were "terrorists" who had "systematically tortured" their son.
The US student was jailed in Pyongyang in 2016 for stealing a hotel sign.
He was released on medical grounds in June this year but arrived home seriously ill and died days later.
North Korea has always denied mistreating Mr Warmbier. They say he contracted botulism while in prison but US doctors found no trace of this.

'This was no accident'

In their first interview since his death, they told Fox news that they "felt it was time to tell the truth about the condition that Otto was in".
US doctors had previously described him as being in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", but the Warmbiers said calling this a coma was "unfair".
Mr Warmbier said when they saw his son he was "moving around, and jerking violently, making these howling and inhuman sounds".
His head was shaved, he was blind and deaf, his arms and legs were "totally deformed" and he had a huge scar on his foot, he said. It "looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth".
"Otto was systematically tortured and intentionally injured by Kim and his regime. This was no accident," said Mr Warmbier.
He also said his son had been abandoned by his family, his country and the world and that the government had given them no information about his death.
Mrs Warmbier said North Korea sent him home because "they didn't want him to die on their soil".
The family refused a post-mortem examination because they thought he had suffered enough and "I wasn't going to let him out of my sight," she said.
She also pleaded with people not to go to North Korea, saying it was "playing into" Pyongyang's propaganda. US citizens are now banned from travelling to North Korea.

'A great interview'

However, a local newspaper in the US has disputed the allegations made by the Warmbiers.
The Cincinnati Enquirer said it had obtained a copy of a coroner's report on Otto Warmbier, based on an external examination, which revealed several small scars but nothing which indicated torture.
The paper quoted the Hamilton County coroner as saying Mr Warmbier's teeth were "natural and in good repair" and that he appeared to have died from brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen.
US President Donald Trump, who is known to watch Fox and Friends, tweeted that it had been "a great interview", and that "Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea".
His comment is likely to stoke the escalating tensions between North Korea and the US, which have exchanged allegations and threats at an unprecedented rate in recent weeks.
The leaders of both countries have directly threatened the other with nuclear annihilation. The international community is appealing for all incendiary rhetoric to be toned down.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Saudi Arabia driving ban on women to be lifted - FINALLY!

Saudi Arabia driving ban on women to be lifted!!!

Saudi womenImage copyrightREUTERS
Saudi Arabia's King Salman has issued a decree allowing women to drive for the first time, state media say.
Government ministries are to prepare reports within 30 days and the order will be implemented by June 2018, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to forbid women from driving.
Rights groups have campaigned for years to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive, and some women have been imprisoned for defying the rule.
"The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licences for men and women alike," the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
The move was welcomed by the US state department, which called it "a great step in the right direction".
Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who was detained for 73 days in 2014 for flouting the ban, tweeted "thank God" following the announcement.
Manal al-Sharif, an organiser of the Women2Drive campaign who has also been imprisoned for driving, said on Twitter that Saudi Arabia would "never be the same again".
Activist Sahar Nassif in Jeddah told the BBC she was "very, very excited - jumping up and down and laughing".
"I'm going to buy my dream car, a convertible Mustang, and it's going to be black and yellow," she said.
Only men are allowed driving licences in Saudi Arabia and women who drive in public risk being arrested and fined.
Because of the law, many families have had to employ private drivers to help transport female relatives.
Saudi website Al Arabiya said about 800,000 men, mostly from South Asia, work as drivers to Saudi women.
Saudi law enforces a strict form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism and is known for its gender segregation rules.
Women have to adhere to strict dress codes, must not associate with unrelated men, and if they want to travel, work or access healthcare they must be accompanied by - or receive written permission from - a male guardian.
The Islamic kingdom recently faced a backlash from conservatives on social media after allowing women to participate in Saturday's National Day celebrations for the first time.
The festivities included fireworks, light shows and a concert in King Fahd International Stadium in the capital, Riyadh.
Saudi women sit in a stadium to attend an event in the capital Riyadh on 23 September 2017 commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the kingdom

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A female doctor working in Germany warns the World

What percentage of this is true?  I'm wondering how accurate it is?  From whose perspective is it more accurate?

see article below:

A female doctor working in Germany warns the World

Many muslims are refusing treatment by female staff here in Germany. The muslim men make sick, crude comments and overtures to the female staff members, because to them any non-muslim woman is a whore or a future slave. After brief exposure to these cruel, sadistic, female hating beats, we, women, are refusing to go among those animals, especially the muslim men from Africa.
Relations between the female hospital staff and muslim immigrants are going from bad to worse. Since, the assault and unreported rapes of German women last weekend migrants going to the hospitals must be accompanied by police with K-9 units.
Very high numbers of migrants have AIDS, syphilis, open TB and many exotic diseases that we, in Europe, do not know how to treat them.
If they receive a prescription in the pharmacy, when they learn they have to pay cash they become violent. They were told in the middle east that everything in Germany would be free. Everything would be handed to them on a silver platter.
Finding out that they MUST pay for certain things leads to loud, violent, outbursts, especially when it is about drugs for the children. Many of these muslim immigrants kidnapped children, so that, their social benefits would be higher once they landed in Germany.
Finding that they would have to pay for the children’s drugs, they gave up the ruse and abandoned the children with pharmacy staff with the words: “So, cure them here yourselves!”
Now, the police are not just guarding the clinics and hospitals, but also large pharmacies.
Truly we said openly: Where are all those who had welcomed in front of TV cameras, with signs at train stations?! Yes, for now, the border has been closed, but a million of them are already here and we will definitely not be able to get rid of them.
Until now, the number of unemployed in Germany was 2.2 million. Now it will be at least 3.5 million or higher. Most of these people are completely unemployable. A infinitesimal bare minimum of them have any education. What is more, their women usually do not work at all. I estimate that one in ten is pregnant with many children in tow.
Hundreds of thousands of them have brought along infants and little kids under six, many emaciated and neglected. If this continues and German re-opens its borders, I’m going home to the Czech Republic. Nobody can keep me here in this situation, not even double the salary than at home. I went to Germany, not to Africa or the Middle East.
Even the professor who heads our department told us how sad it makes him to see the cleaning woman, who for 800 Euros a month cleans every day for years. She has to pick up the refuse the muslim men discard every where they go. She has to serve the young muslim men in the hallways who stand there with their hand outstretched, demanding everything for free, and when they don’t get it they throw a fit.
They know Germany and her citizens are very civilized. Add to that the world is watching, so these vicious, lazy, muslim youths know if they scream shout, and threaten violence, the German people will cave in.
I tell you, no one who has not come in contact with them has any idea what kind of animals they are, especially the ones from Africa, and how the muslim men and women act superior to our staff who are Christian. They look down upon us, verbally deride our Christian values and then demand that their every wish be granted immediately.
If, Germans with our generous nature cannot handle this, then the rest of Europe will be total chaos.
For now, the local hospital staff has not come down with the diseases they brought here, but, with so many hundreds of patients every day – this is just a question of time.
In a hospital near the Rhine, migrants attacked the staff with knives after they had handed over an 8-month-old on the brink of death, which they had dragged across half of Europe for three months before seeking medical attention. The child died in two days, despite having received top care at one of the best pediatric clinics in Germany. The physician had to undergo surgery and two nurses are in the ICU. Nobody has been, and no one will be punished.
The local press is forbidden to write about it!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WHO Plans Global War on Cholera as Yemen Caseload Soars

WHO Plans Global War on Cholera as Yemen Caseload Soars

By Tom Miles, Reuters on September 19, 2017

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization will next month launch a strategy to stop cholera transmission by 2030, it said on Monday, as an unprecedented outbreak in Yemen raced towards 700,000 suspected cases with little sign of slowing down.

The WHO is also trying to keep the lid on a flare-up in Nigeria while tackling many entrenched outbreaks in Africa and an epidemic in Haiti, where almost 10,000 people have died since 2010.

“Once it’s out of the box, once it has spread, it’s very, very difficult to contain and we have a huge number of cases and deaths,” said Dominique Legros, the cholera focal point at WHO’s department for pandemic and epidemic diseases.

Epidemics often arise in war zones. The WHO is sending an expert to Bangladesh to assess the risk for Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence in Myanmar.

“The risk is probably relatively high,” Legros said.

In Yemen, the most explosive outbreak on record has caused 686,783 suspected cases and 2,090 deaths since late April. The number of deaths has slowed but the spread of disease has not: in the past week there were 40,000 suspected cases, the most for seven weeks.

Legros said it was impossible to predict how any outbreak would evolve, but Yemen’s was likely to continue for a long time. The low death rate suggested the outbreak was not severe, although there may be many uncounted deaths in the community.

The number of suspected cases in Yemen cannot be checked accurately, and many may be acute watery diarrhea, which has similar symptoms and treatment but is not caused by the cholera bacterium, which is spread by contaminated food and water.

The WHO estimates there are 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths globally each year, far more than officially reported.

Equipped with a vaccine stockpile that it created in 2013, it plans to launch a global strategy on Oct. 4.

“The objective of the new strategy is to stop transmission by 2030,” Legros said. “Overall, we expect reduction of mortality by 90 percent by 2030.”

The strategy will aim to use the vaccine to contain outbreaks as fast as possible, while addressing deeper problems.

In Africa, growing urbanization, climate change, conflict, displacement camps - as well as sanitation investment that is a third of what it should be - mean there is no reason to expect any improvement without deliberate action, he said.

BBC opinion piece on US future role in Afghanistan (***opinion***)

Viewpoint: Why the US should withdraw from Afghanistan

  • 22 August 2017
  • From the section

US Marines and Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers carry flags during a handover ceremony at Leatherneck Camp in Lashkar Gah in the Afghan province of Helmand on 29 April 2017Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAll US troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, says Professor Andrew Bacevich

US President Donald Trump has committed his country to an open-ended war in Afghanistan that is likely to see more troops deployed. Before becoming president, he had on several occasions advocated the withdrawal of US forces.
Many analysts believe Mr Trump made the right decision in changing his mind. But some do not. They argue the costly war is at a stalemate and American troops should come home. Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University, told the BBC why he thinks withdrawal is the best option.
If keeping US troops in Afghanistan could guarantee that our country would not be targeted by further terrorist attacks, I would favour making our longest war longer still.
But the terrorist threat has evolved since 9/11 and keeping US forces in Afghanistan does not "make America safe".
The opposite is true. Occupying countries in the Islamic world exacerbates the threat rather than reduces it.
Donald Trump as a candidate appeared to get that but now as president has reversed course.
He has returned to establishment views held by the generals that advise him. They insist that there is no alternative than to keep doing what we have been doing since 2001. It is an odd argument: that the most powerful country on the planet has no alternative but to persist in failure.
The argument for continuing the war in Afghanistan assumes that Afghans are incapable of managing their own affairs. It also assumes that our presence and our assistance can make Afghanistan governable.

For almost 16 years, we have tested that proposition. No evidence exists to support it, nor is there reason to think that more of the same - that is what Trump is proposing - will produce better results. Certainly half-measures will not work.
One might speculate that a major escalation - a couple of hundred thousand troops, a few trillion dollars, a decade or so of further exertions - might turn things around. But neither the American public nor Congress nor President Trump himself will support any such effort. As the president said on Monday, Americans are weary of this war.
I am not naïve. I have zero expectation that if the US and its allies withdrew that somehow the various factions in Afghanistan would get together and create a stable, liberal democratic order.
However, it is not implausible to consider the possibility of Afghanistan and its neighbours cobbling together arrangements enabling the various factions to more or less co-exist.
Can I guarantee that this would happen? No.
But if you have been pursuing one course of action for a decade and a half and it hasn't worked, maybe it's time to seriously consider alternatives.
Frankly, if Afghans could cease to fight among themselves and refuse to provide sanctuary to terrorist organisations, that would more than satisfy US interests.
Even if the Taliban regained power, would they embrace IS, al-Qaeda or other such entities? The answer is not necessarily. The last time they did they paid a heavy penalty.
The key would be to create incentives encouraging good behaviour on their part. Economic assistance could be offered as a positive incentive. Promising severe punishment - punitive air strikes, for example - in the event of misconduct might also figure.
Professor Barry Posen of MIT has suggested that a US departure from Afghanistan would energise other countries in the region, like Pakistan, Iran, India and Russia, to exert themselves to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state.
I think this is an important perspective. We should not accept President Trump's absolute certainty that if we leave then Afghanistan will become a terrorist haven.
Finally, I would emphasise that the more preoccupied we are with Afghanistan, the less attention we give to far more pressing issues such as climate change and potential instability in East Asia.
The strategically prudent course of action for the US is to acknowledge our failure and leave.