Jan 31, 2010

JS-Kit Misuses Haloscan Reputation

Michael left a few comments on my previous post about Haloscan. I understand him and his position that why he is anxious. He has abhorrence of feeling in his words rather than convincing unfortunately. I didn’t determine to undermine the accuracy or lest attacking personal level at JS-Kit, I was simply raised this question that why JS-Kit is manipulating the reputation of Haloscan in order to make money? I didn’t say it is a dirty job.

Whatever Michael expressed is close to what I believe. Somehow we are in the same track but we have different looks over the horizon. I respect what the JS-Kit is doing and it is not my business to challenge Michael and JS-Kit’s willingness. However, i simply meant, Haloscan is quite well-known now, it is very obvious that JS-Kit can make business out of it but there are some moral issues that lie there. Morality is something that we are all obsessed with it. I have no idea that how Haloscan survived for the last years and finally why in 2010 they failed to continue.

The JS-Kit is simply limiting this window, the window that i personally endowed my time to right to outsiders that what is going on in my country, in what problems the inhabitants grappling with. The JS-Kit is doing good job - earning money - but I wonder if Michael and his colleagues can put themselves in a blogger’s position and feel differently for a while. I am sure they can understand that what means limiting the diffusion of free thoughts. Now you can evaluate this notion with a brutal and dictatorial regime that limits its citizens to criticize and to talk freely. I don’t find the JS-Kit in this position but I hail everyone to look in their action from different angles.

It is time for JS-Kit to think with dept about it. I applaud their efforts but unfortunately they are manipulating the virtue and reputation of a platform which used to be a supportive tool for free thoughts. This action is not acceptable morally. It is misusing and it is undermining the value and virtue of a software tool that has been used for free over the past years.

The JS-Kit should remember this that they can’t sell words and one's thought. It is time for JS-Kit to announce and give opportunity for free thoughts in order to spread them towards enlightenment in this small planet. They can earn the same through ads. We bloggers can help with click. Later JS-Kit can talk about it proudly. We are all human and we need to share our feeling otherwise we are all will remain aliens to each others and can not be understood.

Jan 29, 2010

Goodbye Haloscan

Since 2004, I am using Haloscan platform in my blog which is quite easy tool that enable the readers to leave comments under the posts. Recently i learned that Haloscan has been purchased by JS-Kit. It is time to appreciate Haloscan that gave us free service and supported free speech. It is time to appreciate those who invented this platform and made it public with no commercial purpose - at least for blogger like me. But alas that JS-Kit is determined to make money out of it. The JS-Kit has made it a paid system. I don't know how a blogger who is receiving not a penny how he/she can pay $12 per year?

For the last years, I kept blogging and my readers were giving me their feedback which was joyful for me to read their thoughts. For the last years, no one paid me for blogging, so this raised a question in my mind that if i never paid for blogging why i should pay? I think it is unfair that JS-Kit has decided to use Hasloscan platform for commercial purpose which was used for supporting free speech. It turned out to be a holey platform through sharing inspirational thoughts and words. But why JS-Kit is misusing its decentness and popularity?

Now, I am pleading for your (those who are technical) assistance to move my comments from Haloscan into Blogger. I just looked around the web to find a useful tool to import the comments but i was not successful. It is rather complicated and I am not good in technical matters.

Please let me know if any of you can help me to migrate Haloscan comments into blogger otherwise I am losing more than 1500 comments which are recorded since 2004.

Jan 28, 2010

A Nightmare Scenario for The London Conference

The London Conference will be held today -- Thursday, January 28, 2010. At this conference, the international community is coming together to fully align military and civilian resources behind an Afghan-led political strategy. It is a crucial moment for the Afghan government, which still has not fielded a full cabinet, after many of President Karzai’s second set of cabinet picks were rejected by the Afghan parliament just two weeks ago. This is not the only conundrum that Karzai is grappling with – he is also facing intense criticism from civil society NGOs inside Afghanistan who are advocating for women’s rights. Continue reading...

Jan 21, 2010

Naive BBC Persian Over Afghanistan and Tajikistan

I wrote this post on my Farsi blog a few days before. It had wide reaction from Farsi readers in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iran. A new blogger friend of mine Jad Iqbal has already translated this post on his blog for his readers. I just did little changes and added to it and thought it would be good to share it with my English readers here too. I wrote a number of posts about BBC Persian, specifically about BBC Afghan service. As a permanent visitor for BBC websites, I would like to share my understandings and critics on BBC works in Afghanistan, especially after September 11 that BBC Radio had a dramatic decrease in the number of listeners. As a member of Afghan media family, it has always been important to observe how the media reflect the events in my country. As media was my favorite field for the past years, i would like to write more about Afghan media and its current condition.

BBC Persian TV, on its first anniversary has asked viewers for their feedback on the service over the past year. There were many who praised and spook highly of BBC Persian TV, but for me this is surprising when BBC Persian has said:

With 8 hours of varied programs a day, including news, analysis, documentaries and general entertainment from the very start, BBC Persian has attracted many viewers in Persian speaking countries.
BBC Persian is referring to Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iran. But here are some initial circumstances that BBC Persian has provocatively and naively spoken about it.

First, the people of Afghanistan are mostly living under the poverty line and they don’t have the ability to buy a TV set, let alone to buy a satellite so that they can watch BBC Persian TV. It’s possible that offices in major cities such as Herat and Kabul, and maybe Mazar-e Sharif watch their channel, and there may even be a small number of people who incidentally flick onto the channel. But this does not at all mean that BBC Persian has won over the country to its TV service.

Second, BBC Persian TV doesn’t have any entertainment programs made for Afghans, and nor is anyone interested in watching the programs that BBC Persian TV produces and airs for its Iranian audience. There are more than 20 private channels all over Afghanistan that are broadcasting which have both interesting and entertaining programs, and also they have a direct relationship with their local audience. They have live programs on which they get feedback on from their viewers, who are also sometimes participate in debates and other activities lively. For a one-sided channel whose direct audience is only Iran, it is naive and not wise for the BBC to pat themselves on the back and say that they have attracted for lots of viewers in Afghanistan. As far as I’m concerned, such a simplistic belief on the BBC’s part is just laughable.

Also about Tajikistan, for the last year, there has been only one reporter who contributed once a month. With this belief that they targeted big audience in Tajikistan they must joked. The people of Tajikistan have enough to access to different channels in old Soviet States. They have better access because they speak Russian. However, they speak Farsi but they use for their writing the Cyrillic alphabets. In addition to this, people don’t have enough to spend their money buying a satellite dish in order to watch BBC Persian TV which its programs don’t relate to the country, its people, its culture and its history.

Thus, BBC Persian TV exaggerates and naively deludes not only its viewers but also itself. Since 2002, with the birth of more than hundreds local radio stations, BBC Afghan service has lost its listeners. Not only this reason but BBC Persian service didn’t improve its programs for Afghan listeners. As a matter of fact, BBC Persian Afghan service remained as a traditional radio that lagging behind.

Please vote for my pictures in the contest "Why Afghanistan is matter?." You don't need registration, just click on stars.
1- Child Street Worker (Egg Seller)
2- Colored Beard
3- Shoe Polisher in Kabul
4- Band-e Amir Lake
5- Feeding these birds brings good fortune (Mazar-e-Sharif)
6- Afghan National Army

Jan 17, 2010

Haiti and Afghanistan With Cataclysmic Events

In Farsi there is a phrase “har ja sang ast ba payee lang ast,” literally it means helpless is always left in the storm. For years and years people of Haiti were grappling with difficulties. This time the biggest earthquake, since 200 years, brought a human disaster for this country that awakened the world. For the last days, I was watching the news, I felt sick to my stomach. Last year, in the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York City, I met a journalist from Haiti. He told me that he was going to run for presidential election in 2011. He was telling me that if he becomes a president of Haiti I should be proud that I have met him. Since earthquake happened, I immediately sent him an e-mail but unfortunately I have no news of my Haitian friend “George.”

At the Clinton conference we talked about politics. He liked Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai who has written a book about fixing failed states and he was saying me, Afghanistan shouldn’t have problem with having such considerable expertise.

Haitians were suffering from unrest, turmoil and political tragedy just like Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the issue of tribalism and racism sparked a long political tragedy and in Haiti there are community problems. The populations of both countries live below poverty line. Both were forgotten by world for a while.

According to the United Nations’ estimation, the earthquake may affect some 3 million people in the country. Haiti’s problems never have solved but I hope that this unforgettable disaster that now attracted the world’s attention may end to years of human suffering. It is regrettable that the world was not aware of grinding constant poverty, it is regrettable that no one pays attention that people in Afghanistan and Haiti suffer from lack of education, food and suffer unless there is a cataclysmic event. A question pops up in my mind that why should we always wait until something happen like earthquake in Haiti and Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan?

In 1990s, Afghanistan has the same situation. Millions of people were facing death because of poverty and tens of thousands led to deaths by Taliban. In a span of 30 days, around 6,000 Hazaras have been killed by Taliban in ethnic cleansing drive in Mazar-e Sharif but the world never heard of it until the September 11 happened and millions of people survived of a potential genocide. It was the first time that people around the world heard of Afghanistan and were looking to find it on the map.

Anyway, it is not late if you want to donate, please go to Larry King’s page and select different NGO. May the souls those departed rest in peace.

Jan 15, 2010

Vote for "Why Afghanistan Matters"

I am kindly asking you to vote for my pictures which I submitted to a photographic competition entitled: "Why Afghanistan Matters". This conctest is hosted by NATO's Joint Forces Command HQ Brunssum. There are a total of six pictures entered into three categories:

1- People of Afghanistan
2- Beautiful Afghanistan
3- ANSF in action

All pictures are trying to articulate the beauty of the Afghanistan, its people, its culture, its love and humanity and its sacrifice for national security and for a prosperous future for Afghanistan. Your vote will be so valuable and will allow me to enhance my work in photography and empower me with a better vision. I am competing to be the winner in this contest and I promise to take nice pictures if I win the nice camera. That’s why I plead for your vote dear readers.

Please go to the following links, when the page is fully opened, look below the picture and move your mouse on the stars and click, your vote will be saved in one second. You can vote 6 times for 6 pictures. Pictures are in categories:

People of Afghanistan:
1- Child Street Worker (Egg Seller)
2- Colored Beard
3- Shoe Polisher in Kabul

Beautiful Afghanistan
4- Band-e Amir Lake
5- Feeding these birds brings good fortune (Mazar-e-Sharif)

ANSF in action
6- Afghan National Army

Jan 6, 2010

The profiling issue from an Afghan traveling to the U.S.

Note: Already published on CNN

After the unsuccessful terror attack on an American jetliner by suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, a 23 year-old Nigerian, security at international airports is getting tighter. In the days after the incident, President Obama vowed to “disrupt and dismantle” every possible threat against the U.S. and ordered enhanced screening and security procedures for all flights, domestic and international. These measures are smart, but they increase the concerns for those travelers who might be suspected by their nationality or religion.

Last week, a viewer called into CNN, to say that anyone who has a Muslim name should not be allowed to fly into the U.S. I have been profiled just because I am coming from Afghanistan, have a Muslim name and identify myself as an Afghan. I personally believe that judging travelers on their ethnicity and religion is not fair. Psychologically, it is disturbing and annoying to be interrogated just because of your nationality. Instead, the security should be reformed and new technology should be developed and used to determine who is actually dangerous.

After the recent incident, there is much discussion in the media about profiling, security screening and issuing special security checks for people coming from mostly Muslim countries. The new order for an extra security check for bag and pat down includes 14 countries. Afghanistan is one of them.

I personally feel comfortable with any kind of security measures that take place at the airports, and I do not find it offensive even to be strip-searched as long as security is the reason. I am from Afghanistan, and I have always experienced tight security at international airports and it doesn’t bother me. But the only thing that concerns me is profiling. As an Afghan, I have faced lots of difficulties at international airports. The security personnel at the airports asked me questions I have never heard, and inquired repeatedly about my destination.

For example, this past August when I got my visa from the U.S. embassy in Kabul to come to the U.S. to attend college, I was stopped at the Dubai airport and questioned more than ever before even though I have traveled to the U.S. before. The security at Dubai international airport was not honestly to check my bags but instead the security worker interrogated me about what I have been doing all my life, questioning me as if I were a member of al Qaeda or the Taliban. Even though I had already passed through security, my bags had been checked and the security personal had stuck a special security sticker on my passport - the security personnel didn’t let me on board while I was in line. He kept me until all passengers were boarded. While he was holding my passport in his hand, he moved around and finally found a camera and a scanner to take my picture and scan my passport. I got on the plane only five minutes before the boarding gate closed. It made me upset and annoyed just because I was profiled based on my nationality. The effect didn’t leave me until I reached my destination.

It is true that most of terrorist attacks have targeted Westerners, and that most terrorists are Muslim. But it is bigoted to judge people according to their religion or nationality. Such extreme measures would be profiling people based on their race, not evaluating them as individuals.

Since September 11, 2001, the security at airports has been effective enough to prevent terrorists from entering the United States, but the case of AbdulMutallab proved that the U.S. intelligence was not capable or failed to conduct a pre-emptive action.

Thus, as the U.S. admitted that its security failed to prevent the Christmas Day attack, al Qaeda has proven itself to not be confined to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that it is also in Gulf countries like Yemen. The security was not smart enough to track down a 23-year-old man wandering around and boarding at an Amsterdam airport.

It is good to have to be checked to ensure security but it is devastating to be treated and interrogated the same manner as a suspected person, just because I am sharing the same type nationality. In August 2007, a 7-year-old Muslim boy was stopped in the U.S. three times on suspicion of being a terrorist. Also, in August 2009, the Bollywood star, Shahrukh Khan, was stopped for questioning at Newark Liberty International Airport which enraged his fans in India.

Finally, it would be good to investigate and recognize the suspected person before issuing him/her a visa and before traveling to the United States. Profiling is wholly inappropriate and will enrage people who are innocent. Looking for Muslim names and names similar to al Qaeda members that are blacklisted is not smart. Profiling based on nationality breeds anger only. Instead there should be effective and aggressive plans to track down the threats from those who are truly dangerous.

Please go to CNN crossroad blog page and read the critics at the bottom of this post