Creativity and a strong desire to do good can formulate some amazing things. Take Designer Massoud Hassani’s project to help destroy landmines in his hometown of Kabul. 

As a child, Massoud’s favourite hobby was building small wind-powered

 toys that would roll and blow due the strong winds of the Afghan Desserts. Sometimes the toys would roll too far into areas he and his friends couldn’t rescue them due to landmines. 20 years later, Massoud has returned to Kabul with an idea and a mission as a part of his Graduate Project: design simple, economical prototypes that would help locals excavate hazardous areas known to have landmines. Made of bamboo, biodegradable plastics, and a GPS chip to help locals find the best path to find and retrieve these machines, the “Mine Kafon” as Massoud has named it, is built to withstand the foce of an exploding landmine so effectively that 1 plastic plate will be lost due to each landmine destroyed. Essentially, the prototype he has designed can clear an area of 4-5 landmines while only losing 4-5 of its plastic feet. For the total cost of about 40 euros these rolling excavators are giving Afghan’s there land back one strong breeze at a time thanks to Massoud’s childhood hobby, his creativity, and his dream to better Kabul.

[This video is also a part of the FOCUS FORWARD filmmaker competition, and it is in the running to become the $100,000 grand prize winner. If you think Massoud and his project is awesome, please vote for it.]

Today at 3:00pm at the University of Calgary ICT 102, the Afghan Canadian Students’ Association invites you to attend: “A Woman Among Warlords: Malalai Joya’s Struggle for Afghanistan.” 
Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the decade, Malalai is a hero and inspiration. You’d be crazy to miss this event. 
Please contact acsa@ucalgary.ca for more information, or reserve your tickets athttp://sphrcalgary.wufoo.com/forms/online-ticket-reservation. (or even contact me, i’ll see what i can do for you.) be there or be an imperialistic crony, jks. just be there. 

Today at 3:00pm at the University of Calgary ICT 102, the Afghan Canadian Students’ Association invites you to attend: “A Woman Among Warlords: Malalai Joya’s Struggle for Afghanistan.” 

Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the decade, Malalai is a hero and inspiration. You’d be crazy to miss this event. 

Please contact acsa@ucalgary.ca for more information, or reserve your tickets athttp://sphrcalgary.wufoo.com/forms/online-ticket-reservation. (or even contact me, i’ll see what i can do for you.) be there or be an imperialistic crony, jks. just be there. 

mohandasgandhi:

Is war really worth it?
With the 9 year anniversary of our war in Afghanistan, here are some facts:
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation study released this week.
Afghanistan is the world’s 3rd poorest country with a GDP of $27.01 billion.
There are more private contractors (120,000) than there are troops currently deployed.
As of June 2010 1,832 total soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. 
Last fiscal year, 239 soldiers killed themselves, 160 of them active duty.
146 soldiers died from high-risk activities, including 74 drug  overdoses, and 1,713 soldiers survived suicide attempts, according to an  Army report.
A third of returning troops report mental problems and 18.5 per cent of  all returning service members are battling either PTSD or depression,  according to a study by the Rand Corporation.
Amputations rose from 47 in 2009 to 77 through Sept. 23 of this year, or an increase of more than 60% - mostly caused by IEDs, according to Army reports.
A recent Pentagon report said IEDs are now the “the most serious threat”  to coalition forces, killing 6,200 allied and Afghan troops in fiscal  year 2009, compared with 3,800 in 2008.
Over the last year the number of child casualties has risen by 55%.
Nearly 6,000 civilians have died since 2006 and over 2,000 have died this year alone.
It costs the Pentagon $2 billion     per month to support the American troops.
To date, $1.09 trillion dollars have been allocated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The death of each Taliban fighter costs between $50-100 million. That’s, at the very least, $1 billion per 20 Taliban fighters.  The best estimate of Taliban killed annually by coalition forces is roughly 2,000.  Killing the estimated 35,000 Taliban fighting the occupation would cost $1.75 trillion.
The poverty rate in Afghanistan is 36%, unemployment, 35%, and inflation, 30.5%.
The population’s life expectancy is 44.4 years.
Is it really worth blowing up Afghanistan?
(Image via)

mohandasgandhi:

Is war really worth it?

With the 9 year anniversary of our war in Afghanistan, here are some facts:

  • Nearly 6 in 10 Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation study released this week.
  • Afghanistan is the world’s 3rd poorest country with a GDP of $27.01 billion.
  • There are more private contractors (120,000) than there are troops currently deployed.
  • As of June 2010 1,832 total soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. 
  • Last fiscal year, 239 soldiers killed themselves, 160 of them active duty.
  • 146 soldiers died from high-risk activities, including 74 drug overdoses, and 1,713 soldiers survived suicide attempts, according to an Army report.
  • A third of returning troops report mental problems and 18.5 per cent of all returning service members are battling either PTSD or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.
  • Amputations rose from 47 in 2009 to 77 through Sept. 23 of this year, or an increase of more than 60% - mostly caused by IEDs, according to Army reports.
  • A recent Pentagon report said IEDs are now the “the most serious threat” to coalition forces, killing 6,200 allied and Afghan troops in fiscal year 2009, compared with 3,800 in 2008.
  • Over the last year the number of child casualties has risen by 55%.
  • Nearly 6,000 civilians have died since 2006 and over 2,000 have died this year alone.
  • It costs the Pentagon $2 billion per month to support the American troops.
  • To date, $1.09 trillion dollars have been allocated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • The death of each Taliban fighter costs between $50-100 million. That’s, at the very least, $1 billion per 20 Taliban fighters.  The best estimate of Taliban killed annually by coalition forces is roughly 2,000.  Killing the estimated 35,000 Taliban fighting the occupation would cost $1.75 trillion.
  • The poverty rate in Afghanistan is 36%, unemployment, 35%, and inflation, 30.5%.
  • The population’s life expectancy is 44.4 years.

Is it really worth blowing up Afghanistan?

(Image via)

whakahekeheke:

Visualizing the War in Afghanistan

patspeiser:

Wikileaks documents visualized over time.  

Red color indicates “events including friendly fire and civilian injuries and death over the course of the last six years” in Afghanistan. Interesting stuff. Read more about it here. Comprehending a large human aggregate like “civilian war casualties” is impossible for the human brain, so this kind of thing at least gives some semblance of trends and spread over time.

quelowat:

Female Afghan students attend Kabul university on  July 6, 2010. The change in the status of women in Afghanistan has  changed since the Taliban regime where women were forced to wear the  burqa in public. The face of a woman was considered a source of  corruption for men not related to them. They were not allowed to work  and not allowed to be educated after the age of eight and then only  permitted to study the Qur’an. Women wanting to be educated were forced  to attend underground schools such as the Golden Needle Sewing School  and along with their teachers risked execution if caught. They also were  not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male  chaperone often leading to illnesses remaining untreated. (Majid  Saeedi/Getty Images)

quelowat:

Female Afghan students attend Kabul university on July 6, 2010. The change in the status of women in Afghanistan has changed since the Taliban regime where women were forced to wear the burqa in public. The face of a woman was considered a source of corruption for men not related to them. They were not allowed to work and not allowed to be educated after the age of eight and then only permitted to study the Qur’an. Women wanting to be educated were forced to attend underground schools such as the Golden Needle Sewing School and along with their teachers risked execution if caught. They also were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperone often leading to illnesses remaining untreated. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Afghanistan Through Teenagers’ Eyes
"What happens when you give cameras to a group of Kabul teens? You see Afghanistan not as a place of war and violence, but as a country where children still play and life carries on."
[—Graciously made aware of this awesome article by one of my friends. For anyone who needs a boost of optimism and motivation to do something, this expose is for you.]

Afghanistan Through Teenagers’ Eyes

"What happens when you give cameras to a group of Kabul teens? You see Afghanistan not as a place of war and violence, but as a country where children still play and life carries on."

[—Graciously made aware of this awesome article by one of my friends. For anyone who needs a boost of optimism and motivation to do something, this expose is for you.]

quelowat:

AMMO UP: An Afghan National policeman carried a machine gun and rounds  while on patrol with U.S. Army soldiers in Kandahar province,  Afghanistan, Thursday. (Julie Jacobson/Associated Press)

quelowat:

AMMO UP: An Afghan National policeman carried a machine gun and rounds while on patrol with U.S. Army soldiers in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Thursday. (Julie Jacobson/Associated Press)

thepublics:

Buzkashi is a traditional Central Asian team sport played on horseback in Afghanistan,  Kyrgyzstan,  Tajikistan,  Pakistan,  Kazakhstan,  and Uzbekistan. The steppes’ people were skilled riders who could  grab a goat  or calf  from the ground while riding a horse at full gallop. The goal of a  player is to grab the carcass of a headless goat or calf and then get it  clear of the other players and pitch it across a goal line or into a  target circle or vat.
Further reading:
War is Boring: Buzkashi,  Rougher than Politics
New Zealand Herald: ‘Mounted goat rugby from hell’ may go global
The Guardian: Kabul goes mad for wild sport

thepublics:

Buzkashi is a traditional Central Asian team sport played on horseback in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. The steppes’ people were skilled riders who could grab a goat or calf from the ground while riding a horse at full gallop. The goal of a player is to grab the carcass of a headless goat or calf and then get it clear of the other players and pitch it across a goal line or into a target circle or vat.

Further reading:

War is Boring: Buzkashi, Rougher than Politics

New Zealand Herald: ‘Mounted goat rugby from hell’ may go global

The Guardian: Kabul goes mad for wild sport

Eva Mulvad’s “Enemies of Happiness” (Winner of the World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival)

"Can an Afghan woman, armed with only a strong voice and a fierce loyalty to her homeland, overcome entrenched views and death threats to help bring democracy to Afghanistan?" [PBS.com]

An amazing documentary that gives a unique insight into the conditions the people of Afghanistan must live. It is a society destroyed by war and run by a tradition. But despite this, there is also a strong longing to change. But how can democracy be implemented in a land where the people are illiterate? In a land where votes can be bought and where women do not have the luxury to leave their children so that they can vote? It is a film that reminds us that democracy can not be implemented merely by the presence of western diplomats and soldiers.