15 thoughts on “Victory for Afghan refugee girl

  1. Sat, Jan. 22, 2011 03:05 AM

    PROMISES, PROMISES: US opts for no-bid contract


    Associated Press

    The U.S. government awarded a no-bid, $266 million contract for a lucrative electricity project in southern Afghanistan despite promising last year to seek competitive bids from other companies, The Associated Press has learned.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development quietly made the change despite criticism over how it has managed billions of dollars spent on reconstruction contracts.

    In January 2010, USAID said companies would compete for the electricity project, awarded to Black & Veatch Corp. of Overland Park, Kan., a company that the agency earlier had chastised for big cost overruns and busted deadlines on a diesel-fueled power plant in Kabul. But the government let 10 months pass before deciding to award a contract without competitive bids, saying that it couldn’t spend more time seeking offers.

    A rival company that was interested in bidding, Symbion Power LLC of Washington, D.C., said USAID broke its promise and spent more than it should to expand electricity into war-ravaged Helmand and Kandahar provinces in southern Afghanistan.

    “I was stunned because of the cost of it,” Symbion chief executive Paul Hinks said.

    The no-bid contract comes as the independent Commission on Wartime Contracting is examining how wisely billions of U.S. tax dollars are being spent and how well contractors are being supervised in Afghanistan. USAID and Black & Veatch executives are scheduled to testify Monday at a commission hearing.

    USAID opted against seeking competitive proposals “to meet the tight timelines required to have an urgent impact,” the agency said in a statement to the AP.

    Black & Veatch defended its selection for the work without competition. “The cost of this contract is entirely reasonable” and includes multiple projects in a large area subjected to intense conflict, the company said in a statement.

    During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized the Bush administration for awarding contracts without competition, a practice he said cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year. But once in office, Obama didn’t prohibit sole-source contracts, saying agencies needed the flexibility to tailor contracts to meet their needs.

    Hinks, who has previously fought against Black & Veatch over contract issues on the troubled power plant in Kabul, said his company successfully completed more energy projects for less money at the height of fighting in Iraq. Symbion handled about $250 million in Defense Department projects in that country, including building 11 power substations and nearly 300 miles of transmission lines.

    Hinks said USAID could have received a better deal. The agency had to discuss the project for months with Black & Veatch to craft a no-bid agreement and should have sought proposals at that time from other companies working in the region, he said.

    Agency officials told Hinks in several e-mails last year that Symbion and other companies would have the chance to bid on the work.

    “USAID intends to procure services through a full and open competitive procurement process and Symbion is invited to submit a proposal,” William Frej, then the agency’s Afghanistan director, wrote to Symbion in February 2010. In November, USAID changed course, saying Black & Veatch would receive the no-bid contract because the company already was working on USAID energy projects.

    Under the latest contract for work in southern Afghanistan, Black & Veatch will upgrade electrical distribution in Kandahar city, install diesel generators, rebuild power substations and install a third hydro-electric turbine generator to the Kajaki Dam in Helmand province.



  2. Worries on Respiratory Diseases Linger

    Saturday, 22 January 2011 18:00 Written by TOLOnews.com

    The number of people suffering from respiratory diseases in Afghanistan has doubled compared to past years, a senior health ministry official said on Saturday.

    In the past eight months there have been around 480,000 cases related to breath illnesses, Public Health Spokesman, Dr Ghulam Sakhi Noorughli said.

    More than 500 people, suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses are daily admitted to the hospital, doctors in Inrda Gandhi Child Health Hospital in Kabul said.

    Doctors said mostly children under five years of age were victims of such diseases.

    “In the past nine years, we have received 480,000 respiratory cases which are mostly caused by contaminated environment and cold weather,” Mr Noorughli said.

    Each day around 1,200 people have consulted to the Child Health Hospital for treatment 500 of whom have been suffering from respiratory illnesses, doctors said in Kabul.

    “In every 24 hours we treat 100 to 150 patients having pneumonia and majority of them are under five,” Dr Mohammad Bashir Quraishi, Head of Indra Gandhi Health Hospital, told TOLOnews.



  3. US bombs ‘wipe Afghan village’

    January 22nd, 2011


    London: A village in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province has been completely wiped out of the map after an offensive by the US Army to get rid of the Taliban militants in the area, a media report said here.

    Tarok Kolache, a small settlement in Kandahar near the Arghandad River Valley, has been completely erased from the map, according to the Daily Mail.

    Taliban militants had taken control of the village and battered the coalition task force with home-made bombs and improvised explosive devices. After two attempts at clearing the village led to casualties on both sides, Lieutenant Colonel David Flynn, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force 1-320th gave the order to pulverize the village.

    His men were ‘terrified to go back into the pomegranate orchards to continue clearing (the area); it seemed like certain death’, Paula Broadwell, a West Point graduate, writes on the Foreign Policy blog.

    Instead of continuing to clear the tiny village, the commander approved a mine-clearing line charge, which hammered a route into the centre of Tarok Kolache using rocket-propelled explosives.

    The results of the offensive were adjudged to have left ‘NO CIVCAS’ – no civilians killed, the daily said. But with Tarok Kolache bombarded with close to 25 tonnes of explosives, assuming some collateral damage does not seem unjustified.

    Analysts have not been able to assess the impact of the bombing on civilians due to security concerns. However, it has been agreed that ‘extreme’ operations such as the destruction of an entire village are likely to have a negative impact on attempts to improve coalition-Afghan relations.

    The erasure of Tarok Kolache was exactly the type of behaviour that would deal a body blow to Afghan acceptance of the presence of the International Security Assistance Force, Erica Gaston, an Open Society Institute researcher based in Afghanistan, was quoted as saying.

    “But for this, I think (NATO) would have started to get some credit for improved conduct,” Gaston wrote in an email.

    “Some Kandahar elders (and I stress ‘some’, not ‘all’ or even ‘most’) who had initially opposed the Kandahar operations were in the last few months expressing more appreciation for ISAF conduct during these operations, saying they had driven out the Taliban and shown restraint in not harming civilians.

    “I think this property destruction has likely reset the clock on any nascent positive impressions.”

    According to Broadwell’s post on Foreign Policy, US military commander Gen. Petraeus has approved $1 million worth of reconstruction projects but also told his commanders in the south of Afghanistan to ‘take a similar approach to what 1-320th was doing on a grander scale as it applies to the districts north of Arghandab’.



  4. Afghan president accuses NATO of destroying 4,000 trees

    24.01.2011 17:31

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai Monday accused the NATO-led military forces of cutting down up to 4,000 trees in the southern province of Ghazni, DPA reported.

    “According to reports, the foreign forces have recently cut down between 3,000 to 4,000 trees in an area between Khani Baba and Band-e-Sarda villages,” the presidential palace said.

    Karzai said the foreign troops had to stop, as their actions were a “crime against public property of Afghanistan,” the statement added.

    Sunset Belinsky, a NATO spokeswoman, said the alliance was aware of the allegation and added that it was “looking into it.”



  5. Soldier killed was 350th since 2001

    AFGHANISTAN: A British soldier was killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan today, the Ministry of Defence said.

    A total of 350 UK military personnel have now died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001.

    The soldier, from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was killed in a blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) to the south of Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand Province. Next-of-kin have been informed.



  6. FCUM says: don’t deport our Mehdi

    The FC United Manchester club has come out in force to join the fight to keep my friend Mehdi Mirzae at home, safe and alive in Manchester.

    Mehdi is a 26-year old Afghan national currently in detention in Tinsley House, Gatwick.

    The authorities in Afghanistan murdered Mehdi’s family. He was imprisoned and tortured before he fled to Britain and fears for his life if deported.

    I was overwhelmed at a pre-match members’ meeting a few weeks ago as I listened to Andy Walsh, our general manager, talk about my friend not as a problem but as a person.

    He talked about Mehdi as a football supporter, a coach and a community partner.

    Mehdi gave up playing football after being stabbed. With the support of FCUM, he went on to train as a coach.

    Mehdi is in constant pain and needs neurosurgery, which he couldn’t get if deported back to Afghanistan.

    Mehdi’s life is football. His home, his family, his friends and his army of campaign supporters are here in Manchester.

    Go to http://www.intermancunia.co.uk/mehdi-must-stay-blog.html and follow us on Twitter: Mehdi_Must_Stay

    Jenny Lomas, Campaign coordinator



  7. Troops to stay in Afghanistan

    GERMANY: MPs voted 420-116 with 43 abstentions today to keep the country’s 5,000 soldiers in Afghanistan until the end of January 2012.

    The Left Party’s 76 MPs voted against. Their parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi called on other MPs to respect the will of the people, pointing to a recent poll which showed that 79 per cent of Germans want the troops brought home now.



  8. Asylum-seekers to be locked up

    AUSTRIA: Social Democratic and Peoples Party ministers approved draconian immigration rules on Tuesday that will see asylum-seekers kept in camps for up to a week on arrival while their applications are considered.

    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called it a “step back.”

    Kids under 14 will not be locked up before deportation under the new rules, but the UNHCR said 16 to 18-year-olds will be.



  9. Iranian dies after self-immolation

    NETHERLANDS: An Iranian immigrant who doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire in central Amsterdam’s Dam square on Wednesday has died of his injuries.

    The police said the 36-year-old’s bid to stay in the country was rejected before the incident.

    Dutch governments have increased restrictions on immigration over the past decade amid growing Islamophobia.



  10. Pingback: Victory for Afghan refugee girl! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: Stop deporting refugees to dangerous Afghanistan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: Dutch villagers, refugees celebrate Christmas together | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: Bush’s ‘new’ Afghanistan, more and more opium | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: German demonstration against deportation to Afghan war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: Workers shot by racist Greek boss compensated | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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