First Covenant Church of Sacramento, which has helped resettle several hundred Muslim refugees, received a big thank you Wednesday night from the SALAM Islamic Center.
At its annual interfaith Iftar, the SALAM center gave First Covenant its Distinguished Award for Exceptional Interfaith and Community Service.
More than 200 guests, including local, state and federal officials, stood to applaud First Covenant Executive Pastor Mark Shetler for promoting friendships between Christians and Muslims and offering material and spiritual support to refugees fleeing violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.
After 13 years of incarceration, after torture and abuse, after being abandoned by his own government, Omar Khadr is finally freed.
“Mr. Khadr you’re free to go,” Alberta judge says in denying Ottawa its emergency motion. Ottawa condemns the release of ‘convicted terrorist.’ Khadr first tastes freedom at 2:03 p.m. Toronto time.
I was going to write a long post on Omar Khadr, and his long, terrible history. Of how as a boy, he was swept up into his family’s politics, and dragged through hell both at Bagram Air Base, and Guantanamo Bay. Of how the Canadian government not just turned their backs on a 15 year old boy, but were complicit in his torture. But I’m not sure I have the competence to do justice to the twists and turns of Khadr’s life. So I will just put some links at the bottom of this post for those who want to explore more about this story. Suffice it to say, I’m very glad this day has finally come.
Dennis Edney, one of the Canadian lawyers who has represented Omar Khadr for many years, spoke with passion after Khadr won bail following 13 years in prison.
He was a child of jihad, a teenage soldier in bin Laden’s army. Captured on the battlefield when he was only fifteen, he has been held at Guantanamo Bay for the past four years — subjected to unspeakable abuse sanctioned by the president himself.
Hey, Dick and Liz Cheney have and article in the WSJ. Wonder what it’s about?
Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.
Finally! The former VP is admitting to to the many mistakes of the Bush administration that led to the disaster in Iraq.
Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is “ending” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so.
Or not. And weren’t you among those saying Iraq would be a “cake-walk” back in 2003?
His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality. Watching the black-clad ISIS jihadists take territory once secured by American blood is final proof, if any were needed, that America’s enemies are not “decimated.” They are emboldened and on the march.
10 years, trillions of dollars and thousands of lives, and you think NOW we can make a difference? And you say Obama’s out of touch?
His discharge is mentioned in the very last sentence of this story. Hmmm…
Former Army Sergeant Josh Korder served with Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
He came forward Monday claiming Bergdahl deserted his post and shouldn’t be celebrated.
“Any of us would have died for him while he was with us and then for him to just leave us like that, it was a very big betrayal,” Korder said in an earlier interview with CNN.
Korder believes Bergdahl walked away from his post and isn’t the hero he’s being hailed.
“I think he just wanted to go on an adventure without having anyone to answer to, without anything to worry about,” Korder in an earlier interview with CNN.
Six soldiers were reportedly killed during searches for Bergdahl.
The Pentagon rejected the idea of a rescue mission for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because he was being moved so often by his Taliban captors that U.S. special operators would have had to hit up to a dozen possible hideouts inside Pakistan at once in order to have a chance at rescuing him.
That’s according to U.S. officials, who also say the Obama administration did not want to risk the political fallout in Pakistan from another unilateral U.S. raid, like the Navy SEAL raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Bergdahl had also twice tried to escape, so the militants guarding him had stepped up their numbers, further complicating any potential rescue attempt.
“A rescue mission would have been fraught politically as well as tactically,” according to a senior defense official briefed on the Bergdahl case.
The lack of information about Bergdahl’s whereabouts shows how few choices the administration had, and why officials felt negotiations with the Taliban were their best option. His repeated attempts to escape also call into question those who call him a deserter who did not intend to return to the U.S. army’s ranks.
There are two major planks to Salam’s argument, and they will ring familiar to anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world: that America must have an aggressive and powerful army, first because our strength is required to bring stability to a vulnerable world, and second because there is so much evil in the world, we are required to defeat it. These are not, let’s say, the freshest of arguments when it comes to the defense of neoconservatism. But since he’s brought them back up, they should be addressed.
In essence, both arguments can be refuted with three words: should implies can. For the argument towards stability, I ask simply: we have endured a war in Iraq, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, we have waged secret wars in Pakistan and Yemen. I ask you: how stable do you find the world? How stable was the world at the height of the Bush Doctrine? What possible evidence can be offered that neoconservatism brings stability in fact, rather than merely in rhetoric?
Nor is it clear that the enduring American military dominance Salam advocates for can be achieved. I would certainly oppose American military hegemony even if I thought such a thing were still possible, but it’s irrelevant, because I don’t. To quote Matthew Yglesias, relative decline is not a choice. That the United States cannot maintain its status as unipolar power forever should be obvious to anyone who has studied history and anyone with a newspaper subscription. The rapidly developing economies and massive populations of countries like China and India make that plain enough. That’s not to say that there will necessarily be a new dominant superpower, but it’s a reason you should bet on the field.
There is still a war on.
A BRITISH sniper killed five Taliban insurgents and a would-be suicide bomber in Afghanistan with one bullet, the British Ministry of Defence says.
The 20-year-old marksman, a lance corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit the trigger switch of the device from 930 metres away, causing the bomb to explode.
The blast killed the would-be bomber and five men around him, a Defence spokesman said.
The incident in December in Kakaran, southern Afghanistan, has been disclosed as Britain prepares to leave from the country by the end of the year.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Slack, commanding officer of 9/12 Royal Lancers, told The Daily Telegraph the unnamed shooter also prevented another major attack as a second suicide vest packed with explosives was found nearby.
“They were in contact and he was moving to a firing position. The sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said, ‘I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber’. The rest of them were killed in the blast.”
Until Malala Yousafzai’s story became well-known, I doubt many people considered what it means to be young and female and seeking an education in a conflict-ridden society that has a bias against the education of girls. Recently I read about a teacher from Afghanistan, Nahida, and I realised that in another part of the world a girl’s education is not a given. Nahida is a school principal for a girls’ school in Kabul. She has persevered through many difficulties in making sure the education of girls in Kabul matters. Her experiences also reveal that when a country is conflict-ridden for three decades, the people who suffer the most are girls and the women who teach them.
A more gendered narrative reveals that a girl’s education can still be sacrificed at the altar because of sexist ideas that reveal that women and girls do not matter. This is especially the case with the Taliban’s laws in Afghanistan. Nahida says that “when the Taliban came to power, it was their policy to close all the schools for females. For me, it was difficult to go to school to teach. When I went to my school, the principal of the school was a Mullah and he didn’t allow me to enter the school and asked me after that not to come to school. But for the boys, school was open. When I understood the policy of Taliban was not to allow girls and female teachers to go to school, I started a home school for girls because families and their parents asked me to teach their daughters”.
Let’s consider some statistics from Unesco’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report related to education in Afghanistan and the Arab states:
175 million young people in low and lower middle-income countries are unable to read a single sentence, of which 61% are female. In South and West Asia, two out of three young people who cannot read are young women.
Afghanistan has the highest level of gender disparity in primary education in the world with only 71 girls in primary school for every 100 boys. It is likely to remain very far from the target of gender parity in primary education by 2015.
No girls were in secondary school in 1999 in Afghanistan. By 2011, the female gross enrolment ratio rose to 34%, which meant there were only 55 girls in secondary school for every 100 boys.
While almost 80% of the richest boys in urban areas were completing primary school in 2011, the same was true for only 4% of the poorest girls living in rural areas.
In Iraq, not only has progress towards gender parity been slow, but poor, rural girls have not benefited. The lower secondary completion rate was 58% for rich urban boys and just 3% for poor rural girls in 2011. Safety remains an issue for girls’ schooling, particularly in areas of major instability and insecurity.
much more : A Case for Gender Parity in Education
An interesting article today in Gawker: We Just Lost Afghanistan Because We’re Not Earth’s Special Snowflake.
I know a lot of Americans really believe this. They really like to believe that America is special. But it isn’t, and this belief is why the U.S. keeps getting in trouble.
And it plays well with the electorate. Politicians win elections by declaring America’s exceptionality loudly and frequently.
However, hubris is inevitably followed by nemesis.
Disclaimer: I like America and Americans. It’s just that too many Americans believe in American exceptionalism. To those of us in other nations like myself it’s a bit frightening. Plus we really hate to see our American friends trying way too hard to prove they are special. It makes us sad when America gets itself into so much trouble because of its pride.
Today I learned there’s a skateboarding school in Afghanistan where 40% of its students are female.
In a part of the world where little girls are getting shot at for promoting women’s education, that’s a pretty impressive statistic. In a part of the world where little girls aren’t even allowed to ride a bicycle, that’s a ground-breaking statistic.
Officially, this makes Afghanistan the unlikeliest of title holders for the highest rate of female participation in skateboarding out of any country in the world.