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January 13, 2008 

9 police killed in Taliban attack
By NOOR KHAN, Associated Press Writer Sun Jan 13, 7:17 AM ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A pair of militant attacks killed nine police officers in southern Afghanistan Sunday and the Netherlands announced that two of its soldiers had been killed in fighting in the south.

The struggles of an Afghan police commander
By C.J. Chivers Sunday, January 13, 2008 International Herald Tribune
NAWA, Afghanistan: Many of the problems frustrating Afghan efforts to secure the nation's dangerous eastern and southern provinces were evident in the bizarre tour of duty of Shair Muhammad, a police officer who spent 18

Afghan troops kill 3 suspected militants, detain 2
www.chinaview.cn  2008-01-13 20:18:09
KABUL, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Afghan troops eliminated three suspected militants and captured two others in two separate operations in the country's southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of Taliban militias, officials said Sunday.

British troops could be in Afghanistan for decades: minister
LONDON (AFP) - British troops could be in Afghanistan for decades, the country's Defence Secretary Des Browne said in comments published Sunday.

Two Dutch soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Sat Jan 12, 9:21 PM ET Associated Press
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Two Dutch soldiers were killed in a clash with militants in Afghanistan, the Netherlands' Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

Canadian opposition leader looks for non-combat roles for his country in Afghanistan
Associated Press / January 12, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan - The leader of Canada's largest opposition party, visiting Afghanistan Saturday, said his country should look for non-combat roles that Canadians can take on to help Afghanistan's development.

Afghan province bans male tailors from measuring women
By Sayed Salahuddin Sun Jan 13, 5:17 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Male tailors in an Afghan province have been barred from measuring female clients for fittings following a new local ruling that resembles the restrictions the ultra-conservative Taliban imposed on the country when in power.

Three ex-leaders of Muslim charity convicted of false information
Sat Jan 12, 11:54 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Three former leaders of a Muslim charity were convicted Friday of concealing their links to the mujahidine in Afghanistan and tax evasion, said the Department of Justice.

Medical technician dies in his sleep while serving at base in Afghanistan
By Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer January 13, 2008
They were up in the high country, floating across the lake in a houseboat. Nicholas Eischen wanted to know what his family thought he should do with his life.

'We know nothing about Afghanistan'
The author of a controversial article in Mother Jones magazine gives a voice to Canadian soldiers in his new book, Outside the Wire
MARSHA LEDERMAN January 12, 2008 The Globe and Mail
VANCOUVER -- Canadian author, physician and ex-soldier Kevin Patterson has an awful lot to say about the war in Afghanistan - and has felt, sharply, the consequences of saying what some thought was too much. In his new book

Afghan football tournament kicks off in volatile S province
www.chinaview.cn  2008-01-13 14:32:24
 KABUL, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Martyrs Cup, a football tournament featuring ten football clubs in Afghanistan, kicked off on Saturday in southern Afghan province of Nimroz, reported by local newspaper Outlook on Sunday.

Pakistan denies deported NYT magazine reporter
Sat Jan 12, 12:43 PM ET
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A media watchdog said Pakistan had expelled a reporter for the New York Times Magazine who interviewed Taliban leaders and visited Baluchistan province on the Afghan border but the government denied he was deported.

Pneumonia kills five infants in Badakhshan
By: Jafar Tayar
FAIZABAD, Jan 9 (Pajhwok Afghan News): residents of Kishm district in northeastern province of Badakhshan claimed five children died due to pneumonia infection.

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9 police killed in Taliban attack
By NOOR KHAN, Associated Press Writer Sun Jan 13, 7:17 AM ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A pair of militant attacks killed nine police officers in southern Afghanistan Sunday and the Netherlands announced that two of its soldiers had been killed in fighting in the south.

Taliban militants killed eight officers in an attack on a police checkpoint in Kandahar province, said Sadullah Khan, a police officer in neighboring Neven district. A suicide bomber killed another policeman and wounded eight other people when he blew himself up in a housing compound in the town of Lashkar Gah in neighboring Helmand province, officials said.

Guards challenged the bomber when he tried to enter the house of a regional police commander and the man detonated himself, killing the policemen and wounding two children, four civilians and two other police officers, provincial police chief Mohammad Hussain Andiwal said.

The Netherlands' Defense Ministry said two Dutch soldiers a 20-year-old private and a 22-year-old corporal were killed and in southern Afghanistan Saturday.

The Dutch soldiers died during a firefight with "opposing militant forces," in Uruzgan province, the Ministry said.

Another soldier wounded suffered wounds to both legs in a separate incident and was expected to survive, the ministry said.

The soldiers' families have been informed, but their names have not yet been released, the ministry said.

About 1,650 Dutch troops were deployed in Uruzgan as part of the NATO mission there. Fourteen Dutch troops have died since their mission began last year.

More than 925 Afghan policemen died in Taliban ambushes and bombings in 2007. The police appear to be more vulnerable to militant attacks because they work in smaller groups than the Afghan army troops and are not as well trained, officials say.

Militants have also launched more than 140 suicide attacks against Afghan government troops and officials as well as foreign forces over the past year. Most of the victims in such attacks have been civilians.
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The struggles of an Afghan police commander
By C.J. Chivers Sunday, January 13, 2008 International Herald Tribune
NAWA, Afghanistan: Many of the problems frustrating Afghan efforts to secure the nation's dangerous eastern and southern provinces were evident in the bizarre tour of duty of Shair Muhammad, a police officer who spent 18 months in an isolated swath of steppe.

Until December, when a colonel arrived to replace him, Muhammad, 30, had been the acting police chief in the Nawa District of Ghazni Province. The job gave him jurisdiction over hundreds of square kilometers near Pakistan that the Taliban had used as a sanctuary since being ousted from power in 2001.

But his ability to police his beat was severely compromised. Muhammad had no rank, no money for food and not enough clothing or gear to operate in cold weather. Two of his six trucks were broken. The ammunition the Pentagon provided him came in cardboard boxes that immediately crumbled, exposing cartridges to the elements on his storeroom's dirty floor.

Compounding his woes, the possibility of mutiny was on his mind. It was a natural worry, he said, because none of his men had been paid since April.

"My commanders always just give me promises," he said. "They never send the money."

In its simplest distillation, the strategy driving this U.S.-led war is straightforward. Western troops are an interim force to provide security, spur development and mentor indigenous security forces until the Afghan government can govern alone. But in the past two years, the insurgency has blossomed, making control of many provinces a contest. The Afghan Army, under American tutelage, has made considerable progress, U.S. officers say.

The police lag far behind. Lightly equipped, marginally trained, undermined by corruption and poor discipline, they remain weak, though their expected role is daunting. They are not asked merely to police a country that lacks the rule of law. They are being used to fight a war.

The U.S. and Afghan governments say that improving the capabilities of the police is a priority. U.S. financing has sharply increased to do so.

"If you look at how the Afghan Army has changed for the better, and project that kind of change for the Afghan police, there is reason to be optimistic," said Lieutenant Colonel Timothy McAteer, who commands the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the principal American unit working in Ghazni Province.

But Muhammad's tour, undermined by mismanagement from above and the poor discipline that surrounded him, suggested how difficult any transformation might be.

As his tour ended in mid-December, he spent his last evenings crouched by a hissing space heater in a mud-walled fort, sipping tea and waiting for his government to provide the help that the police needed.

Muhammad and his sense of commitment provided reason to be hopeful, American officers said. Tiny, bearded, wild-eyed and bedecked with long strands of unkempt black hair, he led with a style that was variously whimsical, pragmatic, resolute and cunning.

"He is a true patriot," said First Lieutenant Mordechai Sorkin, a U.S. platoon leader who worked alongside him. "He has been here almost all alone, trying to make Afghanistan better."

The American soldiers said Muhammad was a character of his own: He managed a gentle and wry demeanor but never declined to join them on patrols and was courageous under fire.

In a Taliban ambush in October, they noted, one of his officers was killed and four others were wounded. Muhammad survived and tried to rally his penniless ranks.

He also was steadfast in the face of intimidation. Another day, the mutilated body of an elderly man who had spoken against the Taliban was found on the road. The man had been beheaded. Afghanis, the national currency, had been stuffed in his nose.

On patrols with Americans through villages that harbor the Taliban, Muhammad gathered elders and gave speeches against the insurgents and such behavior, telling villagers that siding with the government was the surest route away from barbarism to a more secure life.

Resolve was not enough. As his tour ended, Muhammad said his government had failed to match his sense of duty.

His district had long been a transit corridor for insurgents between Pakistan and Afghanistan and had had almost no government presence. Since 2006, the area had been covered only by Muhammad's detachment and one U.S. platoon, roughly 40 soldiers. Many villages in the district had never been visited by either the military or the police.

In early December, McAteer, the American commander, added most of his battalion's Company B - more than two more platoons. The company commander, Captain Christopher DeMure, moved to Nawa with a detachment of Afghan soldiers and about a dozen police officers, including a colonel to relieve Muhammad.

The police in Nawa, the only government representatives that had ever entered much of Nawa, were surviving on donations - some might call it extortion - from a local bazaar.

When DeMure arrived, Muhammad told him the government's logistics system was such a failure that he owed $3,400 to shopkeepers for goods he had commandeered to keep his police station fed and supplied. The sum equaled roughly three years of his salary.

Lieutenant Colonel Amanuddin, the police supervisor who arrived with new officers, appeared to be just as disappointed as Muhammad (like many Afghans, Amanuddin has only one name).

"I need 20 good police officers, and could use 100," Amanuddin said. "Good people - not any hashish smokers. And I need sleeping bags and mattresses and a generator for power."

Without more officers and better equipment, he said, it would be impossible to conduct night patrols with U.S. soldiers.

But there were signs as well that Muhammad, for all of his courage and sense of loyalty, lacked other fundamental leadership traits. The station Amanuddin was inheriting was a picture of disorder and filth.

Its front yard was a junkyard of scrapped vehicles and broken artillery pieces. Inside was a garbage pit. The garbage was not confined to this hole; it was everywhere. The courtyard was overrun by dogs that fed on it.

At least three unexploded rockets littered the grounds, and the police had taken to using a guard tower as a toilet. Human waste covered its floor.

Seeing the depth of the problems, DeMure contacted a provincial coordination center that supervises the police. He hoped to get more gear, wages for the officers and more officers for the district.

But on Dec. 6, Muhammad's fear of mass desertion came true.

Destitute and dispirited, most of the police officers under his command abandoned their posts at sunrise. It was not the first time, he said, that this had happened. Nine of Amanuddin's men announced that they were leaving, too. Only one of the new police officers remained: Amir Muhammad, a driver with a single arm.

DeMure urged the new chief to ask the officers to continue working.

It was no use. "None of the officers have been paid," the colonel said. "If we force them, they might kill us." Muhammad nodded.

DeMure was soon back in contact with Ghazni, asking for police officers again. A few days later, at the captain's urging, eight more police officers arrived to work with Amanuddin. More were expected soon, he said. Muhammad's tour was over at last.
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Afghan troops kill 3 suspected militants, detain 2
www.chinaview.cn  2008-01-13 20:18:09
KABUL, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Afghan troops eliminated three suspected militants and captured two others in two separate operations in the country's southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of Taliban militias, officials said Sunday.

"Two-hour-long clash between government troops and terrorist elements in Jalai district of Kandahar province Saturday afternoon left three terrorists dead," a Sunday press release of Afghan Defense Ministry said.

There were no casualties on government forces, it added.

Moreover, Afghan interior ministry in another statement issued earlier Sunday said that police arrested two would-be suicide bombers from Kandahar city on Saturday night and recovered two waistcoats used in suicide bombing.

The Taliban have not made any comment.

The militants who have vowed to topple Afghan government, according to predictions made by analysts and observers, would increase their attacks in 2008 in the post-Taliban nation where rising militancy-related violence claimed over 6,000 lives last year.
Editor: Lin Li 
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British troops could be in Afghanistan for decades: minister
LONDON (AFP) - British troops could be in Afghanistan for decades, the country's Defence Secretary Des Browne said in comments published Sunday.

Asked by The People weekly newspaper when Britain's soldiers would withdraw from Afghanistan, Browne said: "We cannot risk it again becoming an ungoverned training haven for terrorists who threaten the UK.

"But there is only so much our forces can achieve. The job can only be completed by the international community working with the Afghan government and its army.

"It is a commitment which could last decades, although it will reduce over time."

Browne's comments echo those of the head of the army, senior figures in the security services and former prime minister Tony Blair that the battle against Islamist extremism could last a generation.

The current prime minister Gordon Brown visited British troops in southern Afghanistan last month and told President Hamid Karzai of Britain's commitment to the country's long-term success.

Britain has about 7,800 troops in Afghanistan as part of a 40,000-strong UN-sanctioned, NATO-led force aimed at helping reconstruction and fighting Taliban militia.
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Two Dutch soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Sat Jan 12, 9:21 PM ET Associated Press
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Two Dutch soldiers were killed in a clash with militants in Afghanistan, the Netherlands' Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

A 20-year old private and a 22-year old corporal died during a firefight with "opposing militant forces" on Saturday at around 9 p.m. local time, the ministry said.

Two Afghan soldiers were killed in fighting later the same evening, the ministry said.

Around 1,650 Dutch are serving in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan as part of the NATO mission there. Since their mission began last year, 14 Dutch troops have died.

The firefight took place around 3 miles northwest of Camp Hadrian, near the southern town of Deh Rawod, said Gen. Dick Berlijn, commander of Dutch forces in Afghanistan.

The soldiers who were killed were part of an operation in which several hundred Dutch and Afghan soldiers were attempting to gauge prospects for refugees currently sheltering in the Deh Rawod bazaar to return home, Berlijn said.

"In the evening hours, a sizable firefight broke out. The circumstances around this firefight are not completely clear. It is clear that there was a lengthy fight, in which numerous units were involved," Berlijn said.

The region where the fighting took place has been restive for several months with numerous small groups of Taliban fighters known to be hiding there.

Dutch forces had seized weapons from several homes in raids Saturday, Berlijn said.

In November, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced the Dutch would extend their mission in Afghanistan for two years after it was due to expire in August 2008.
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Canadian opposition leader looks for non-combat roles for his country in Afghanistan
Associated Press / January 12, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan - The leader of Canada's largest opposition party, visiting Afghanistan Saturday, said his country should look for non-combat roles that Canadians can take on to help Afghanistan's development.

Liberal party leader Stephane Dion said he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who thanked Canada for its contributions.

Canada has about 2,500 troops stationed in the southern province of Kandahar, one of Afghanistan's most violent areas. The troops are slated to leave Afghanistan in February 2009, a move which could force NATO's International Security Assistance Force to rotate troops from other nations into the province.

Seventy-six Canadian military members and one diplomat have died in Afghanistan, with about 30 of the deaths in 2007.

Canadian lawmakers will vote later this year to determine whether the combat mission will be extended after it expires in 2009. Canada's ruling Conservative party wants the troops to stay, but the majority opposition parties _ reflecting public opinion in Canada _ want them to end the combat mission in southern Afghanistan.

Dion said there are many aid projects in which Canada can take part, outside of a military role.

"We are convinced after the day we've had that we will have plenty of things to do that will involve, yes, to take risks, but anywhere we will go, whether Darfur or Haiti, there are always risks," he said. "We are not afraid of the risks. But we want to sure that we have a balanced mission after 2009 that will be optimally helpful for the people of Afghanistan."

Dion arrived Saturday in Afghanistan. The duration of his visit was not disclosed.
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Afghan province bans male tailors from measuring women
By Sayed Salahuddin Sun Jan 13, 5:17 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Male tailors in an Afghan province have been barred from measuring female clients for fittings following a new local ruling that resembles the restrictions the ultra-conservative Taliban imposed on the country when in power.

The decision was made by a council of Islamic clergymen in northeastern Takhar province recently, governor Abdul Latif Ibrahimi said.

"The male tailors have been told to stop measuring women," Ibrahimi told Reuters by phone on Saturday. "They need to be measured by female tailors."

While many Afghan women have excellent needlework and dressmaking skills, the overwhelming majority of commercial tailors are men.

Ousted in 2001, the Taliban's radical Islamic government banned male tailors from outfitting women. They also barred women from most employment and education and also forced them to wear an all-enveloping burqa while venturing outdoors.

The curbs drew stern criticism from many countries. Violators would have been punished publicly.

Ibrahimi did not say what would happen to anyone failing to comply with the new ruling.

The clergy plays a crucial role in Afghanistan and in the past has been behind a series of uprisings in the deeply Islamic conservative country.

During a meeting last week with President Hamid Karzai, who has been leading Afghanistan since the Taliban's ouster, a national Islamic body urged him to ban the TV airing of hugely popular soap operas, mostly Indian, which it deemed un-Islamic.

The council also demanded the re-introduction of public executions, another policy during Taliban rule.

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Three ex-leaders of Muslim charity convicted of false information
Sat Jan 12, 11:54 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Three former leaders of a Muslim charity were convicted Friday of concealing their links to the mujahidine in Afghanistan and tax evasion, said the Department of Justice.

Libyan Emadeddin Muntasser, 43, and Samir Almonla, 50, and Muhamed Mubayyid, 42, both Lebanese, were placed under arrest and could be sent to a maximum of 10-20 years in prison at sentencing hearings in early April.

The three men headed Care International Inc. between 1993 and 2003, when ostensibly the charity was financing an orphanage in Afghanistan.

However, a 24-day trial in Boston, Massachusetts, found that their chief activity was issuing propaganda and collecting funds for the mujahidin in Afghanistan.

The three men did not mention the secret activity that violated the charity's tax-exempt status.

They were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the United States and of engaging in a scheme to conceal information from the US government, the Justice Department said in a statement.

"Today's verdict is a milestone in our efforts against those who conceal their support for extremist causes behind the veil of humanitarianism," Kenneth Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said in the statement.

"For years, these defendants used an allegedly charitable organization as a front for the collection of donations that they used to support violent jihadists.

"This prosecution serves notice that we will not tolerate the use of charities as a means of promoting terrorism."
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Medical technician dies in his sleep while serving at base in Afghanistan
By Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer January 13, 2008
They were up in the high country, floating across the lake in a houseboat. Nicholas Eischen wanted to know what his family thought he should do with his life.

He had worked at a pool service and at a few other short-term jobs. "All of them were things that didn't have a future to them," said his grandfather, Bob Pinion. "He was looking for a future."

By that time, in the summer of 2003, Eischen was already drinking the same beer as his father and grandfather, and listening to the same music -- "there are only two kinds," Pinion said, "country and Western" -- but he didn't want the same job as they had.

"His father and I," Pinion said, "are both plumbers. We didn't want him in the trade. He had better fish to fry. We didn't want him all broken up at 50 years old."

The clan from Clovis, adjacent to Fresno, gathered around hot dogs and steaks aboard the family's houseboat on Huntington Lake in the Sierra, helped him settle on a career in the Air Force.

Eischen enlisted in 2003, rising to the rank of senior airman. He was assigned to the 60th Medical Operations Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, southwest of Sacramento. His most recent posting was in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Base, about 25 miles north of Kabul, where he apparently died in his sleep Dec. 24. He was 24.

Fellow servicemen discovered his body the next morning when they broke down his door 20 minutes after his alarm clock first rang. The cause of death remains a mystery.

Pinion said that doctors had removed his grandson's gallbladder three weeks earlier, but that Eischen was believed to be otherwise healthy and the procedure had gone smoothly.

Eischen was the sixth graduate of Buchanan High School in Clovis to die in Iraq or Afghanistan, and he was a close friend of two of the others who died.

A 2001 graduate of the 2,000-student high school, Eischen was part of an influx of students who joined the military after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"The attack that year did to the class of '01 what Pearl Harbor did in World War II," said Tim Rolen, a longtime friend of the Eischen family and pastor of New Hope Community Church, who presided at Eischen's funeral.

Eischen's supervisors in the Air Force remembered him as a dedicated medical technician on the base, treating service members and local residents alike.

"He said, 'Grandpa, a lot of people have blood and everything. But I work through that. I don't think about that. If I get squeamish, I fail them,' and it was all about them," Pinion said.

Eischen had hoped to return to the United States and become an emergency room nurse.

In addition to his grandfather, he is survived by his wife, Leah; a 2-year-old son, Braeden; his parents, Drew and Suzi Eischen; a brother, Drew "Joey" Eischen; and a sister, Jamie Hovsepian.
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'We know nothing about Afghanistan'
The author of a controversial article in Mother Jones magazine gives a voice to Canadian soldiers in his new book, Outside the Wire
MARSHA LEDERMAN January 12, 2008 The Globe and Mail
VANCOUVER -- Canadian author, physician and ex-soldier Kevin Patterson has an awful lot to say about the war in Afghanistan - and has felt, sharply, the consequences of saying what some thought was too much. In his new book, Outside the Wire, Patterson leaves most of the talking to others.

The book is a compilation of written works by Canadian soldiers, doctors, aid workers and journalists who describe in plain words and fine detail their experiences in Afghanistan - a country that leaps off the pages as a dusty but gorgeous conflict zone. Patterson, 43, spent six weeks last year working as an internist at the Kandahar Airfield hospital. He was there on a civilian contract, but had previously served time in the Canadian Forces as a way of putting himself through medical school.

It was while serving at CFB Shilo (in Manitoba, where he grew up) that he began writing on the side as a hobby. He has since left the army, moved to Saltspring Island, B.C., and written a memoir, a book of short stories and a novel. But it was an essay published last summer in the U.S. magazine Mother Jones that put him in the spotlight - and the hot seat.

In the piece, titled Talk to Me Like My Father, billed as "one doctor's front-line diary from Kandahar," Patterson included graphic details about the attempts he and other medical personnel made to save the life of a Canadian soldier, Corporal Kevin Megeney of the Nova Scotia Highlanders. Megeney died in the operating room in Kandahar last March after being shot, allegedly by another Canadian soldier (Megeney's tent-mate is facing three charges in his death, including manslaughter). Patterson's essay identified Megeney by name, prompting outrage from some family members, politicians and other Canadians, who expressed concerns about doctor-patient confidentiality. It became a lightning-rod issue as people wrestled with the emotional fallout of a senseless death in Afghanistan.

The Canadian Forces launched two probes. In the first, the National Investigative Service decided it would not lay charges against Patterson. But a second investigation, looking into a potential breach of ethics in relation to identifying a patient, is ongoing. The military's Health Services Group completed a summary investigation and has now handed the file to the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons, which has not yet begun reviewing the case.

"If I had that over again, there are some things I'd do quite differently," Patterson said last week in Vancouver, declining to elaborate. "The fact is you can't go back and do things over again in this world. But you know I'm certainly sorry for any discomfort I caused the family.... I wasn't trying to inflame anybody. It's not what I'm about."

What he was trying to do, he says, was give the world a hard, unvarnished look at the consequences of war. He brings up the iconic, horrifying Vietnam War photograph of Kim Phuc, naked and burned, a young girl running screaming following a napalm attack. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo brought the horrors of the war in Vietnam home to the chattering classes in the United States and remains one of the most famous images of the 20th century.

"If that picture had been taken of a girl running out of a house fire in Saskatchewan, it never would have been printed," Patterson says. "It never would have been published. It would have been obscene. But war's a little bit different. War, because it's being done by us, on our instruction, we have some obligation there to stare at what we've wrought."

In Outside the Wire, co-edited by Jane Warren, Patterson does include a version of his controversial essay, minus the controversy: There is no mention of Corporal Megeney or his death. Patterson insists this was always the intention for Outside the Wire: to include the essay, without those details.

The book also includes, perhaps most strikingly, e-mails written by two other people who died in Afghanistan: Vancouver aid worker Mike Frastacky and Captain Nichola Goddard - whose death on May 17, 2006, stunned the nation back home: It was the first time a female NATO soldier had been killed in combat duty. She was 26.

Goddard's letters home, which Patterson obtained from her family, are filled with lively anecdotes, cheery optimism (including electronically produced smiley faces), and assurances to her loved ones that she is safe. "I am very confident in my crew and in our equipment. Don't worry Dad, confidence does not equal carelessness. We are very careful," she writes to her family during the second week of her tour. And later, in the same e-mail: "My personal protective equipment weighs about 40 lbs, plus the weight of a rucksack (between 40-60 lbs) ... that is 2/3 of my body weight and I feel every pound of it. 'Living the dream' as we all say." This is followed by a smiley face.

Reading her description of ramp ceremonies for other fallen soldiers is particularly excruciating, knowing that her body would eventually leave Afghanistan the same way. "Our service was longer [than] the American one, but I found it very moving," she writes.

In an e-mail sent on March 25, 2006, less than two months before her death, Goddard writes that her difficulties are nothing compared to what the soldiers in the First and Second World Wars had to face. "I have an end date," she writes. "I know that I'll be home some time in August. I have the ability to come back to a warm tent and call home to hear my Mum's voice."

"After I read her [e-mails], I couldn't talk," Patterson says. "I was so stirred."

Patterson was motivated to publish this collection, he says, by what he considers a lack of informed opinion about Afghanistan and the shallow discussion about Canada's involvement that results. "The reason the debate's been so facile is because we know nothing about Afghanistan. We have no facts. We don't know what it smells like there, we don't know what it tastes like, we don't know what it feels like, we don't know the substance of the work that the Canadians are doing there. We don't know what a day in the life of a soldier is there. And in the absence of that, we're reduced to just parroting these [meaningless phrases] over and over again without advancing the debate at all."

This book is Patterson's attempt at rectifying that: "The agenda is simply to get Canadians to engage with the situation in Afghanistan in a nuanced and detailed way that I think is more possible through unmediated narratives than anything that the media has been able to come up with.... We don't need another book from any professor and we almost don't need another book from a journalist about Iraq or Afghanistan. What we need [are] books from soldiers and we need books from Afghans and Iraqis."

First-hand accounts, Patterson continues, provide the details that will bring "an understanding of Afghanistan that goes beyond the intensely superficial grasp of it most of us have just through the news. I think the news reporting in Afghanistan has been abysmal, absolutely abysmal. Every story is like the other."

Patterson hopes the pieces in the book give readers a feel for the country and the day-to-day life of Canadian soldiers, and for what brings soldiers back again and again. It may not just be the need to do good or to fulfill one's military obligation, but also the charge one gets from being there (something retired Canadian general Roméo Dallaire addresses in his powerful foreword to the book).

It's a charge Patterson felt when he was working at the Kandahar Airfield hospital. "I'm sorry that I probably won't have a chance to go back," he says. "I'd be honoured if [the military would] have me, but I don't think they would."
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Afghan football tournament kicks off in volatile S province
www.chinaview.cn  2008-01-13 14:32:24
 KABUL, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Martyrs Cup, a football tournament featuring ten football clubs in Afghanistan, kicked off on Saturday in southern Afghan province of Nimroz, reported by local newspaper Outlook on Sunday.

The opening match between the United Club and the Arman-i-Shuhada Club drew thousands of locals coming to the stadium in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province.

According to Muhammad Nasir Husseini, the provincial chief of Olympic Committee, the tournament will last for one month and a half whose purpose is to discourage the involvement of Afghan youth in narcotics and social evil.

"Teams ranking the first three will be awarded cups and prizes at the end of competition," Husseini added.
Editor: Du Guodong 
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Pakistan denies deported NYT magazine reporter
Sat Jan 12, 12:43 PM ET
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A media watchdog said Pakistan had expelled a reporter for the New York Times Magazine who interviewed Taliban leaders and visited Baluchistan province on the Afghan border but the government denied he was deported.

The Pakistani government said he was not expelled and left the country of his own volition.

The journalist, Nicholas Schmidle, whose report "Next-Gen Taliban" appeared in the magazine at the weekend, was deported on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.

"The article contained interviews with anti-government Taliban leaders and was written from ... Baluchistan province, and its capital, Quetta," the New York-based watchdog said.

The Committee quoted Scott Malcomson, Schmidle's editor at the magazine, as saying that no explanation was given for the journalist's deportation. However, he said, the deportation was "clearly connected to his writing rather than anything else he was doing."

An information ministry official said Schmidle did not have a journalist's visa. "He was on a two-year fellowship here and had visited sensitive areas in Baluchistan without permission and did reporting. He was not on a journalist visa," the official said, on condition of anonymity.

"Initially a deportation order was served to him but it was later withdrawn. He left Pakistan on his own," he added.

The CPJ expressed concern over growing attacks by the government of President Pervez Musharraf on media.

Media flourished in Pakistan during Musharraf's rule but sweeping curbs were imposed on it after he imposed emergency rule on November 3.

Almost all private news channels were taken off the air while three journalists from Britain's Daily Telegraph were expelled from the country.

Emergency rule was lifted on December 15 and most of the channels are back on air but none is running the popular talk shows that infuriated the government.

The government rejects criticism on media curbs.

"The media in Pakistan is the freest ever in the history of the country. There is no restriction whatsoever on media in Pakistan," an information ministry spokesman said this week.
(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider)
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Pneumonia kills five infants in Badakhshan
By: Jafar Tayar
FAIZABAD, Jan 9 (Pajhwok Afghan News): residents of Kishm district in northeastern province of Badakhshan claimed five children died due to pneumonia infection.

They said the outbreak of the infection took place in Khamyak village of the district and people were concerned about the outbreak.

Ahmad Khan resident of Khamyak village told Pajhwok Afghan News on telephone, his two years old son died of pneumonia on Wednesday.

Sayed Akbar Akhgar, district chief of Kishm said the road to Khamyak village was closed, so they can not confirm the casualties caused by pneumonia.

Dr. Abdul Rahman Jalali, head of public health department in Badakhshan told Pajhwok Afghan News they did not receive any news from Kishm about child casualties.

He added if there were any such incidents they will send health team to provide necessary health services.

Badakshan is one of the provinces where due to heavy snowfall most of the roads are blocked from 6 to 9 months in a year
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