Photo by @petekmuller/@prime_collective. A view of the awe-inspiring #Panjshir valley in north-central #Afghanistan. Panjshir leads to the foothills of the #HinduKush mountain range and is a hub of #emerald mining. At present, it is a largely peaceful area owing to the steep valleys that form natural defenses against outside offensives. #CentralAsia #beauty #mountains by natgeo


Buddha Rises Again

The giant Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan have been rebuilt — this time with light. On Sunday June 7, fourteen years after the ancient statues were destroyed by Taliban militants, artists animated the Buddhas with 3D light projection technology, filling the empty cavities where the Buddhas once stood.

The $120,000 projector used for the installation was donated by a Chinese couple, Janson Yu and Liyan Hu. Yu and Hu were saddened by the destruction of the statues in 2001. Wanting to pay tribute, they requested permission from UNESCO and the Afghan government to do the project. 150 local people came out to see the unveiling of the holographic statues on Sunday, observing and playing music through the night.

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century monumental statues of standing Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan. Built in 507 AD (smaller) and 554 AD (larger), the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.

The statues were dynamited on the orders of Taliban on March 21, 2001.


Band-e Amir, Afghanistan: (sources in captions) Band-e means “Dam of the Amir”, it refers to the five lakes high in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Central Afghanistan near the famous Buddhas of Bamyan. They were created by the carbon dioxide rich water oozing out of the faults and fractures to deposit calcium carbonate precipitate in the form of travertine walls, that today store the water of these lakes. It’s a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. 

Via IO9:Afghanistan’s destroyed Buddhas given new life as holograms

In March 2001, the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a pair of giant statues dating to the 6th century in the Bamyan valley in central Afghanistan. Now, the statues have been resurrected with 3D light projection technology. 

Last weekend, a Chinese couple, Janson Yu and Liyan Hu worked to develop a projector at the cost of $120,000, which they first tested in China before bringing the system to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the permission of UNESCO and the Afghan Government, they were able to project a 3D image into the slots in the cliffside that housed one of the statues. For the evening, the statues stood once again in a symbolic work of art. While the statues are physically gone, they cannot be easily erased from our collective memory. via via Khaama Press

 Click thru for a beautiful video showing some of the process

New Post has been published on The Rakyat Post

New Post has been published on http://www.therakyatpost.com/world/2015/02/24/gunmen-abduct-30-shia-muslim-men-from-bus-in-afghanistan/

Gunmen abduct 30 Shia Muslim men from bus in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR (Afghanistan), Feb 24, 2015: 

Masked gunmen have abducted 30 Shia Muslim men who were travelling by bus through central Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday.

The men, members of the minority Hazara ethnic group, were taken on Monday evening in Zabul province, on the road between the western city of Herat and the capital Kabul.

Hazara Shia Muslims are often the target of sectarian violence at the hands of Sunni Muslim extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Our driver saw a group of masked men in Afghan army uniform signalling him and he thought they were soldiers so he stopped,” said Nasir Ahmad, an official with the Ghazni Paima bus company, told AFP.

“The gunmen took 30 Hazaras away with them.”

Ahmad said the kidnappers took only the men on the two buses and released the women and children travelling with them.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the abduction, but kidnappings for ransom by bandits, local militias and the Taliban are common in Afghanistan.

There have been fears recently that the influence of the Islamic State group, which has a strongly anti-Shia agenda, could be growing in Afghanistan.

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the police were “doing everything to ensure their safe release”.

Gunmen kill 15 civilians travelling in central Afghanistan

Suspected Taliban gunmen stopped two vehicles in central Afghanistan and shot dead 15 passengers at the side of the road, officials said Friday, in the latest attack to highlight the growing civilian toll from violence. Only one man escaped the execution-style killing in Ghor province when the armed attackers gunned down 11 men, three women and one child. “They ordered all passengers to stand in one line, and then they shot them dead one by one,” Abdul Hai Khatibi, spokesman for the governor of Ghor province, told AFP.
Source: AFP

Arachosia, Aria and Bactria were the ancient more eastern satraps of the Achaemenid Empire that made up most of what is now Afghanistan during 500 B.C. The inhabitants of Arachosia were known as Pactyans, possibly today’s Pashtuns.

A variety of ancient groups with eponyms similar to Pakhtun have been hypothesized as possible ancestors of modern Pashtuns. The Greek historian Herodotus mentioned a people called Pactyans [Πάκτυες] living in the same area (Achaemenid’s Arachosia Satrapy) as early as the 1st millennium BCE. Furthermore, the Rigveda (1700–1100 BC) mentions a tribe called Paktha  inhabiting eastern Afghanistan and academics have proposed their connection with today’s Pakhtun people. (x)


Chinese couple recreate iconic Bamiyan Buddha statue

A Chinese couple has used technology to recreate, in a manner of speaking, one of the iconic Bamiyan Buddha statues, which had been destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

Over 1,000 locals gathered at the site in central Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province last weekend, as Zhang Xinyu and Liang Hong, along with their team, projected the image of the statue where it once used to stand.

Zhang told Xinhua that they had undertaken the initiative to remind the locals of their priceless cultural heritage.

“When I saw the smile on the people’s faces in Bamiyan, I know what we have done was quite meaningful - not only for the people there but also for ourselves,” said Liang.

The projection device, which is worth around 100,000 US dollars, was later donated to the local government.

Zhang and Liang’s team hopes that the government can continue to use it to project the Buddha’s image at least once a year.

8 Atrocities Committed Against Puerto Rico by the US - Listverse

Some of the many atrocities the U.S. Has committed to my island. America does things like this throughout central and South America. We cause damage everywhere we go, Iraq, Afghanistan. We think we can do as please, that we are the worlds police. But we exploit other nations. We exploit the poor, we take their resources and we leave a mess there when we are done for them to clean up. Our oil companies do this on a daily basis in Central and South America. We invaded Iraq and left chaos and destruction and did not clean up, and radiation is causing children to be born with defects and cancerous cells but we dismiss it like we have nothing to do with it. This country ruins everything it touches. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of amazing people here, groups of people that genuinely want to help. But as a nation, our government only helps when it has something to gain or has ulterior motives in its agenda. Wake up. The world despises up for reason.

Women's rights in Afghanistan: the turbulent fight for equality
In 1923 Afghan law gave women equal rights, but the Soviet invasion – and the Taliban – brought violence and oppression. Today, men in Afghanistan are being urged to speak out against gender inequality in a country often ranked one of the most dangerous places in the world for women.

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ASIAN countries by REGION

This have NOTHING TO DO with race/ethnicity/religion, etc.   It is based SOLELY on GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION.


1. China  (this includes China Proper, Tibet, Macau, Hong Kong.

2. Japan   3. North Korea   4. South Korea    5. Taiwan    6. Mongola


1. Russia


1.  Afghanistan   2. Bhutan   3.  India   4. Khazakstan   5.Khyrgystan   6. Maldives (Islands)    7. Nepal    8.Pakistan   9. Sri Lanka    10. Turkmenistan  11. Tajistan   12. Uzbeistan   


1. Brunei (Island)  2. Cambodia   3. Indonesia (Islands)   4. Laos    5. Malaysia   6 Myanmar (Burma)    7. Philippines  8. Singapore  9. Thailand   10. Vietnam   11. Timor (Island)


1. Armenia   2. Azerbaijan   3. Georgia   


All Arab countries listed in other post

PLUS     1. Cyprus (Island)   2. Turkey   3. Iran    4. Israel (thgugh I do not consider this a “country”—-)


Rebirth of the Buddha of Bamiyan: Chinese millionaires create amazing 175ft hologram of iconic statue deliberately destroyed by the Taliban

A Chinese couple who have explored the world together have used a 3D laser light show to restore one of the two sacred Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban. The 1,500-year-old Buddhas of Bamiyan, which were carved into a cliff face in Afghanistan, were blown up in 2001, after they were declared to be false idols.

But Zhang Xinyu and Liang Hong, a millionaire couple and full-time adventurers from Beijing, were so moved on hearing about the destruction of the ancient relics that they took it upon themselves to resurrect the statues.

The two destroyed Buddhas stood 115 feet and 175 feet tall respectively in Bamiyan valley in central Afghanistan.

The couple used 3D light projections to recreate the taller statue in the place it once stood in a stunning show earlier this month, reported the People’s Daily Online. They gained permission from UNESCO, who have marked the Bamiyan Valley as a world heritage site, and the Afghan authorities to put on the display over the weekend.

About 150 spectators watched the light show, which took place after sunset on June 6 and 7, dancing to the music in front of the holographic Buddha into the night. x

WITHIN DAYS of each other, both the New York Times and BBC News wrote articles drawing attention to a burgeoning ski culture in the Bamiyan Province of central Afghanistan. Then Roads and Kingdoms said Bamiyan is ready for tourists, extolling its virtues as an overlooked peaceful province in the warring country. Citing increasingly reliable infrastructure and the availability of direct flights to Bamiyan, the articles suggest that Afghanistan is on a mission to draw tourists to the conflict-ridden country. But Afghanistan, a tourist destination? Armed violence still dominates much of the landscape because of the Taliban, and the country is just now beginning to find its footing politically after decades of sustained violence and instability.

Tourism can open up new revenue streams for previously isolated countries and increase cash flow to a developing nation’s citizens, but it can also prove dangerous — a tacit condoning of oppressive regimes. When does it become okay to make the mental switch from post-conflict zone to potential vacation spot?

1. Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Province

Photo: Hadi Zaher

Bamiyan Province is best known for the UNESCO World Heritage Site Buddhas, which were carved into Bamiyan Cliffs 1,500 years ago and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. But the province is also home to an extensive range of snow-capped mountains primed for skiing. According to The New York Times, the area is relatively safe now that East Horizon Airlines offers direct flights, thus avoiding the more dangerous Kabul entirely.

As a country better known for war than for ski resorts, the operation is still small. Hotels contain only enough rooms for about 300 tourists and electricity failures are common. But as Afghanistan hopefully stabilizes in the next several years, tourists may be able to get a glimpse of a country whose relative isolation has preserved its natural beauty and rich culture.

2. The Caucasus

Photo: Levan Gokadze

The Caucasus region near Russia’s southernmost border is the site of Europe’s most active armed conflict. Yet Putin insisted on staging the Sochi Olympics just 100 km away.

International powers were nervous that their athletes would be dragged into the conflict. The US even put warships in the Black Sea for mass evacuation of athletes and citizens, if necessary. It was the first time in history that the Olympics was held in an active war zone.

While Sochi was no doubt a risky investment, the event surprisingly went off without a hitch. And now Sochi has created international appeal — the North Caucasus Resorts project aims to bring in 3.5 million tourists per year and create over 160,000 jobs.

3. Liberia

Photo: Ken Harper

Liberia celebrated 10 years of peace in 2003. But with 250,000 dead from two civil wars spanning over 10 years, the country has been struggling to get back on its feet. Nevertheless, according to CNN, the Liberian minister of commerce and industry calls Liberia a “tourist attraction waiting to happen,” citing its rain forests, sandy beaches, and well-developed surf culture as reasons to visit.

There’s still little to no infrastructure, however, and the government has yet to incentivize Liberian enterprises to invest in the tourism sector. Perhaps one day we will be able to visit, but don’t buy a ticket to Monrovia just yet. The VICE guide to Liberia still shows that westerners need military accompaniment throughout the country, which suffers from widespread poverty and residual violence at the hands of local warlords.

Not to mention that in recent months, the country has been ravaged by Ebola — the highly contagious hemorrhagic fever decimating people living in Western Africa.

4. Somalia

Photo: United Nations Photo

Somalia is much better known for its pirates and warlords than its pristine beaches. But Mogadishu, formerly known as the “White Pearl” due to its expansive stretches of white sand, drew Europeans to its luxury hotels throughout the 20th century. It’s hoping to resurrect that image now that the African Union successfully kicked al-Shabab out of the capital in August 2011.

Construction is booming and international organizations in the capital report a general optimism in the city and beyond. The UN moved in new staff for the first time in several years, and Turkish Airlines is now flying direct to Mogadishu. Some expats are returning, including Ahmed Jama of London, who opened a luxe dining spot right on the beach.

The political situation is still somewhat dangerous and al-Shabab still has the means to attack, but Mogadishu is hoping to become a hot tourist spot and taking the necessary steps to do just that. Hopefully one day it will be a safe destination for all.

5. Sierra Leone

Photo: Kris

The 11-year civil war that gave Sierra Leone its association with blood diamonds and child soldiers ended in 2002. Nearly 12 years later, international hotel chains are developing Freetown and hoping to align the image of Sierra Leone with those of Ghana and Gambia to attract high-end tourists interested in guided tours and eco-tourism.

According to Investment Climate Advisory Services, investor confidence is increasing in the region. Hilton Worldwide, in collaboration with the International Development Enterprise, plans to open the Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra in 2014. The $40 million project aims to lure in 40,000 tourists per year and employ 400 people. Radisson is setting up shop there too. Guidebooks like Lonely Planet celebrate the country’s “breathtaking coastal grandeur.”

Sierra Leone remains one of the countries hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic, so tourism at this time is not recommended.

6. Medellín, Colombia

Photo: Luz Adriana Villa

Medellín, Colombia used to be known as the murder capital of the world thanks to Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel. Conflict in Colombia dates all the way back to 1948, but 10 years ago the city began cleaning up its act in earnest. New government leaders spearheaded initiatives like the “parques bibliotecas,” public library parks, and built new sports centers — creating beautiful new community spaces in the poorest neighborhoods.

Because of the friendly people, local work ethic, and loads of coffee, it looks like Medellín wants to become South America’s Silicon Valley. And that goal isn’t out of reach. The Star estimated that close to 2 million international tourists visited in 2013. If nothing else, the Colombian government sees this as an exercise in national rebranding, as its first tourism campaign played off of its bad reputation: “The only risk is wanting to stay.”

But the city still has its problems. There have been thousands of judicial killings and slayings of international human rights defenders over the last couple of years. Although most of the violence is isolated to those involved with the drug trade, travelers should take caution.

7. Rwanda

Photo: David Lloyd

Rwanda remains a shining example of the possibilities of tourism in a country known for its conflict. The 1994 genocide and perceived government insecurity isolated the country for years. But Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda since 2000, began promoting tourism in 2003 with the aid of foreign investment. He highlighted the country’s rare mountain gorillas, green hills, and sparkling lakes.

In 2007, international investors set down roots in Rwanda, beginning with the Kenyan hotel group Serena, which built a five-star hotel in Kigali and a four-star lakeside hotel at Gisenyi. In 2008, Governors Camp built its Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, and Dubai World Africa built the Nyungwe Forest Lodge soon after.

While tourism in Rwanda is essential in facilitating its economic growth and physical reconstruction going forward, traveling to see Volcanoes National Park or Nyungwe Forest does come with undue red tape; the Rwanda Development Board issues no more than 64 permits per day.

8. Tunisia

Photo: mario m krce

The Jasmine Revolution, which ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis, closed off the country to international visitors, cutting the number of tourists in half from 2010 to 2011. While the situation is currently fragile, recent travelers report feeling “100% safe.”

The Sahara Desert covers much of Tunisia, allowing opportunities for dune roving, and the Mediterranean coastline is perfect for beach-goers. Then there’s the food, culture, and endless bazaars.

9. Myanmar (Burma)

Photo: Dietmar Temps

Until 2010, Myanmar’s citizens were repressed and victimized by a totalitarian state. According to National Geographic, predictions expect the number of tourists in the country to reach 3 million by 2015 and 7 million by 2020, and new airports and hotels are springing up all over the country. In 2012 alone, the country pulled in $500 million from tourism, up from $315 million in 2011. And Coca-Cola opened a bottling plant outside of Yangon, planning to invest nearly $200 million in the country over the next five years.

Although it will take time to achieve full-fledged democracy, especially as there’s still conflict in the Rakhine State between Buddhists and Muslims, Myanmar is ready to support tourism. Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, and All Nippon Airlines fly to Yangon directly. Travelers should be advised to take every measure to ensure that their dollars go into the hands of local citizens. Responsible travel here is key.

10. Sri Lanka

Photo: James Gordon

http://ift.tt/14OtV4N called Sri Lanka the best destination to visit in 2013, which makes sense: The country is home to eight UNESCO world heritage sites, plus endless beaches and greenery.

Sri Lanka emerged from a 26-year-long civil war in 2009 and hopes to turn its image around to attract tourists. It has so far been successful, welcoming over 1 million tourists for the first time in 2012. In 2012, 114,000 Britons visited the island and British Airways opened up a new flight route to Sri Lanka in 2013. The Shangri-La has set up shop in the country, as has Australian business mogul James Packer, who plans to open a casino with an accompanying 400-room hotel in the capital.

There are still reported human rights abuses, so tourists need to travel responsibly and consider the implications of visiting a country with an authoritarian regime.

11. Tibet Autonomous Region

Christopher Michel

Tibet, which has been under Chinese control since the middle of the 20th century, is known worldwide for its monks’ self-immolations and its struggles for renewed autonomy. In March 2014, the chairman of the Tibet autonomous region’s government said that they’re trying to make Tibet a “world-class tourist destination,” which might explain the recent opening of the St. Regis Lhasa in 2013 and the current construction of the Shangri-La Lhasa, slated to open in 2014.

In 2013, there were 13 million visitors, which is a 22% increase from the previous year. Most of them hail from China, Europe and the US. The Chinese government keeps Tibet on a tight leash: Non-Chinese visitors need several permits to enter the region. In Tibet, the same rule applies as with many of these destinations: Travel responsibly to maximize the trip for both the visitor and host. Do your homework, book far in advance, make sure your visas are in order. Bring cash.

Full disclosure: I went in January 2014, and it was an incredible trip. I highly recommend it but there were several checkpoints that required multiple visas, and there was a notable limitation on freedom of speech. From: War-torn countries you can visit // http://ift.tt/14OtWFQ

Women are breaking barriers in Afghanistan

A remarkable entry in the official competition of the ongoing Human Rights Film Festival is the Spanish documentary Boxing for Freedom, produced by Making DOC and directed by Juan Antonio Moreno and Silvia Venegas. The film tells the unique story of Sadaf Rahimi, a young Afghan girl who has become, against all odds, her country’s best female boxer. 

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Announces Peter Cook as Pentagon Press Secretary

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Announces Peter Cook as Pentagon Press Secretary

Today, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that Peter Cook will serve as Pentagon press secretary and his principal spokesman. “I am pleased to announce that Peter Cook will be joining my team as our spokesperson here at the Pentagon,” said Secretary Carter. “Peter’s years of experience in the national media, coupled with his personal integrity and nonpartisan approach, make him an ideal…

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Iran and the Taliban: not-so-strange bedfellows

Iran and the Taliban: not-so-strange bedfellows

The Wall Street Journal is reporting (behind a paywall; here’s a summary) that Taliban commanders in Afghanistan are getting money and weapons from Iran. This is newsworthy in that, as has been pretty well-documented, after 9/11 Iran went to some effort to aid the US in taking down the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. This appears to have partly been an effort by the Khatami government to open some inroads…

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