PTSD veteran’s bloodbath in California, USA

This 9 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

After Massacre in California Bar, Will a Democrat-Controlled House Take Action on Gun Control?

The city of Thousands Oaks, California, is mourning after a former marine opened fire at a country music bar Wednesday night, killing 12 people, mostly students. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February.

Police have identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine veteran who had deployed to Afghanistan and had a history of mental health issues, including possible PTSD.

The dead include 27-year-old Telemachus Orfanos, who survived the deadly Las Vegas massacre at a country music festival last year, only to be gunned down Wednesday night.

We speak with Sarah Dachos, a Navy veteran and volunteer with the D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a founding member of the Everytown Veterans Advisory Council.

This 9 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Why Gun Control Isn’t Enough

Rebel HQ’s Emma Vigeland explains why healthcare and combatting social isolation is just as important as gun control.

By Rafael Azul in the USA:

Ian David Long, the Thousand Oaks, California shooter, likely suffered from PTSD

10 November 2018

On Wednesday night, 28-year-old Ian David Long, a US Marine Corps veteran of the Afghanistan war, shot and killed a dozen people at a dance club in Thousand Oaks, California, some 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles. He then killed himself.

The massacre has horrified masses of people, both in the US and around the world. What could have led this young man to commit such a crime?

The American media has made various attempts, most of them dishonest or superficial, to answer this question. All of them ignore the consequences of decades of militarist violence and neo-colonial war, along with the toxic social atmosphere in the US.

The following were the final words Long posted on his Facebook page shortly before he initiated his shooting spree: “I hope people call me insane … wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah, I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’… or ‘keep you in my thoughts’ … every time … and wonder why these keep happening.”

Friends and neighbors interviewed by the media present a contradictory picture of Ian David Long.

Long, described as a frequent patron of the Borderline Bar & Grill, arrived around 11:30 pm. He proceeded to shoot the security guard outside, then entered the bar and grill and shot the young woman at the cashier’s desk. He went on to fire his handgun at the customers inside. It is not known how many bullets were fired. He apparently said nothing during the entire attack.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean described the scene inside the Borderline after the shooting as “horrific” and said there was “blood everywhere.” Police found Long, dead of what Dean believes to be a self-inflicted gunshot. The 28-year-old’s semi-automatic handgun, a modified .45-caliber Glock, was at the scene.

Long served in the Marine Corps from 2008 to 2013 as an infantry machine gunner, and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-11.

In April 2018, a mental health crisis team from the Ventura County sheriff’s department was called to his mother’s home (also Long’s residence) in the Newbury Park section of Thousand Oaks because Long was acting “irrationally”. At the time, a police mental health specialist suspected that Long suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, after talking to him and judging that the young man represented no threat to himself or others, the crisis team decided not to detain Long for mental health evaluation against his will.

A neighbor of Long and his mother’s described the scene. “He was raving hell in the house, you know, kicking holes in the walls and stuff and one of the neighbors was concerned and called the police”, Richard Berge, who lived one block away from the home, told Reuters. “They couldn’t get him to come out, so it was like a standoff for four or five hours.”

Dean added that police believe that Ian David Long suffered from PTSD as a result of the experiences he underwent during his four-and-a-half-year stint in the Marine Corps and in Afghanistan specifically.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is triggered by exposure to traumatic events in which the person “experienced, witnessed, or was confronted by death or serious injury to self or others and responded with intense fear, helplessness or horror.”

PTSD sufferers have described feelings of grief, depression, anxiety and anger. Many have flashbacks and nightmares and turn to drug abuse.

Very high rates of PTSD and anger have been seen in US military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Matthew Tull at Verywellmind recently pointed to a study by a “group of researchers [who] looked at rates of PTSD and anger problems among a group of 117 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans.

“Similar to other reports, the veterans they studied exhibited high rates of PTSD. In fact, about 40 percent had PTSD and an additional 18 percent almost had a PTSD diagnosis, or what is often referred to as subthreshold PTSD (they were struggling with some severe symptoms of PTSD but not quite enough symptoms to meet criteria for a full PTSD diagnosis).”

Tull went on, “In addition, over half of the veterans with PTSD indicated that they had been aggressive in the past four months, such as threatening physical violence, destroying property and having a physical fight with someone. Veterans with almost a PTSD diagnosis reported just about the same amount of aggressive behavior as the veterans with PTSD.”

As the number of veterans with PTSD and other forms of mental illness was increasing, a 2014 report from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) reported that treatments were inadequate, “ad hoc, incremental and crisis-driven.” There was minimal planning in developing “long-range” approaches, the IoM committee argued, lengthy delays in providing treatment for those who needed therapy (only 53 percent received the minimum therapy of eight sessions in 14 weeks) and the interruption and delay of individual counseling sessions.

Thomas Burke, a pastor who served with Long in Afghanistan, said the latter’s battalion had arrived during intense fighting in Helmand province, a center of Taliban resistance.

Burke told CNN: “We train a generation to be as violent as possible, then we expect them to come home and be OK. It’s not mental illness. It’s that we’re doing something to a generation, and we’re not responding to the needs they have.”

In addition to confronting Taliban forces in Helmand, US and allied troops terrorized the Afghan population. In March 2017, in a military online forum, Ian Long described some of his military experience using the nickname “doorkicker03”, alluding to the repression of civilians.

The news that Long had been the shooter, and that he had posted his dark Facebook message greatly shocked one his friends, who spoke to CNN; “That does not sound like Ian to me at all. I don’t know what was going through his head when he wrote this. It must have been terrible”, he declared. “I don’t know what the hell happened. He was always happy. I never thought this would ever come from him. We used to go snowboarding all the time. He was a good guy”, said another.

“He wasn’t unhinged, he wasn’t violent. He was a sweet guy who served his country and was using his GI Bill to go to college and get a degree to help more people”, another friend declared. “Out of our group of friends I thought the highest of him.”

Curtis Kellogg, who served with Long in the Marines, told CNN that while Long had a sense of humor, “like most Marines who have seen combat it could get dark at times, just like all of us.”

The official response to the Thousand Oaks massacre is a combination of banal, formulaic expressions of sorrow and bewilderment. What do such people know about the consequences of their wars and invasions?

Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, Reuters commented, “said it was too early to speculate on the shooter’s motives but that he appeared to have acted alone. ‘We will be sure to paint a picture of the state of mind of the subject and do our best to identify a motivation,’ Delacourt said, adding that the FBI would investigate any possible ‘radicalization’ or links to militant groups.”

Ventura County Sheriff Dean told the media, “Obviously, he had something going on in his head that would cause him to do something like this.”

Ian Long’s precise mental state November 7 will perhaps never be known. That night’s cryptic and troubled Facebook entry provides a clue. Hundreds of thousands of youth have been called on to participate in an unending series of wars and occupations (“kicking in” doors); tortured by their experiences in many cases and left with no opportunities, no real help for their mental and physical injuries, nothing more than “hopes and prayers”. That condition, working on the most psychologically vulnerable and susceptible, almost inevitably produces tragedies like the Thousand Oaks mass shooting.


From Afghan war to California mass shooting

This 9 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Tennessee Senator Gives Worst Response To Shooting Ever

Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee gave the most tone-deaf response to the recent California shooting. This is the state of our country.

On Rupert Murdoch‘s Fox News, Republican Senator Blackburn reacted to the bloodbath in Thousand Oaks in California, by an Afghan war veteran with PTSD with his legally bought gun. Senator Blackburn said, being a real Donald Trump Republican, that the solution was that more guns should be bought.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Afghanistan war veteran kills 12 at a southern California dance club

9 November 2018

Another horrible mass shooting took place in the US on Wednesday night, the 307th such episode on the 311th day of the year, according to a website that tracks gun violence.

A 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran of the Afghanistan war walked into a country music dance club in Thousand Oaks, California on Wednesday night and opened fire with a handgun, killing 12 people and wounding 25. The attacker, Ian David Long, who lived with his mother in the Newbury Park section of Thousand Oaks, some six miles away, then apparently turned the weapon on himself.

The incident is the deadliest in the US since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in mid-February, in which 17 people were killed and 14 wounded, a tragedy that sparked mass outrage and protest.

Hundreds of college students and others were on hand late Wednesday at the Borderline Bar & Grill, some 40 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, when the gunman entered. The club, located near both California Lutheran University and Pepperdine University, has a College Country Night on Wednesdays, permitting those under the drinking age to enter, with a black X marked on their hands.

By all accounts, Long, armed with a [legally bought] Glock 21, whose magazine had been illegally extended so it could hold more than the standard 10 rounds, carried out his attack with precision and determination.

According to witnesses, the gunman—dressed entirely in black and wearing a black baseball cap, sunglasses and a bandana covering the lower half of his face—first shot a security guard standing outside the club. Tim Dominguez told KABC television in Los Angeles that the intruder “shot the doorman, bouncer … just a young man. Then, he shot the cashier, just a young girl.”

Dominguez’ stepson John Hedge told reporters that the two were preparing to leave the bar when Long entered and threw several smoke grenades, before pointing his handgun and opening fire. Hedge explained to NBC News, “You start hearing pop, pop, pop. It sounded like fireworks or something … My stepdad dove and took cover and yelled at me, ‘John, hit the deck! Hide!’ So I got down. And the gunman started opening fire on the cashiers, the people working the cash register on the front desk.”

Teylor Whittler, who was celebrating her 21st birthday at the club, told Fox News, “As soon as he walked in, he had perfect form. I was born in a military family and I’ve been around guns my entire life so I know a bit about them. He looked like he knew what he was doing. He had practiced, he had been shooting before.”

Whittler also explained, “While I was inside I would say [I heard] … about a good 30 seconds [of gunshots] … He had two [magazines] that I know with him. He changed them within about six seconds, which was really fast.”

Another survivor of the shooting simply said, “He just kept firing.”

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean commented, “It’s a horrific scene in there … There’s blood everywhere.” He described the shooting as “by far, the most horrific thing I’ve seen in my 41 years.” One of the victims was a local police officer.

Long served in the Marines from 2008 to 2013 (i.e., when he was approximately 18 to 23 years old) as a machine gunner. He was deployed to Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011. During his time in the Marines, Long was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

According to Buzzfeed, Long belonged to “a special forces internet forum where he wrote sporadically about his experience in the military.” In one post, he wrote that “he had been deployed to Marjah in Afghanistan, where in 2010 thousands of US, British and Afghan troops launched the largest joint offensive in the war. The town in Helmand Province was a Taliban stronghold and site of Operation Moshtarak from February to December 2010, the first attack launched after the Obama administration announced plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Long’s deployment to Afghanistan overlapped for the last month of that operation.”

Operation Moshtarak, also known as the Battle of Marjah, involved some 15,000 US, Afghan, Canadian, British, Danish and Estonian troops. The aim was to drive Taliban forces out of Marjah. The latter withdrew from Marjah before the large number of foreign occupiers, but by 2016 the Taliban was back in control of the area.

Long was later deployed to Okinawa, where he served as a Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor. He left the Marines as a corporal.

Officials suggested that Long was likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Neighbors told the media that the young man was struggling mentally and emotionally.

USA Today reported that Long’s “various interactions with police over the years pointed to a man who needed professional help. None came. Neighbor Richard Berge said everyone on the block was aware when the police came to the Long home earlier this year after an incident.

“Although Berge had never been inside the Long house, he said a neighbor had reported seeing walls that were ‘full of holes’, adding that the neighbor got the impression that Long had kicked the walls in. ‘She [Long’s mother, Colleen] was worried because he wouldn’t get help’, Berge said. ‘I asked her, ‘Can’t he just get help.’ She said, ‘He can’t get help.’” Berge further asserted that Long’s mother “lived in fear”, not for herself, but for her son and for others.

The newspaper reported that neighbors called police “to complain of loud noises earlier this year that sounded like he [Long] was damaging the house, neighbor Tom Hanson told local TV stations KTLA and KTTV. ‘It sounded like he was tearing down the walls of the house’, Hanson said.”

The connection between the eruption of US militarism in every corner of the globe and the epidemic of anti-social violence and mayhem at home could hardly be clearer.

American imperialism recruits young men and women, often “economic conscripts”, to do its dirty work in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and elsewhere, forcing them to commit horrendous crimes and undergo brutal, psyche-destroying experiences. When the Pentagon has done with them, it releases them to their families and into the general public. In too many cases, these veterans are walking time-bombs.

Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University, argued in 2015 that while veterans accounted for 13 percent of the adult population, “more than a third of the adult perpetrators of the 43 worst mass killings since 1984 had been in the United States military.” He added, “It is clear that, in the etiology of mass killings, military service is an important risk factor.”

Gusterson also noted that a recent study in the Annals of Epidemiology had found “that military veterans kill themselves at 1.5 times the rate of their civilian counterparts. … Although more veterans with PTSD take their own lives than kill others, military service is a risk factor for both homicide and suicide.”

The list of mass killers with military backgrounds, according to Gusterson, included George Jo Hennard, who killed 22 in Killeen, Texas in 1991 (US Navy); Michael McDermott, who shot seven people in Wakefield, Massachusetts, in 2000 (also US Navy); Robert Flores, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war, who shot his three nursing professors in Tucson, Arizona, in 2002; Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the US Army psychiatrist who killed 13 at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009; Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who killed six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, had served six years in the US Army; in 2012, Radcliffe Haughton, an ex-Marine, killed three women, including his wife, at a spa in Wisconsin; in 2013, Aaron Alexis, another Navy veteran, killed 12 at the Washington Navy Yard; in 2014, Ivan Lopez-Lopez, an Iraq War veteran, killed three at Fort Hood in Texas; and Timothy McVeigh, whose truck bomb killed 168 in Oklahoma City in 1995, was a Persian Gulf War veteran.

We could add the name of Washington, DC sniper John Allen Muhammad, another Gulf War veteran, who, along with an accomplice, killed 10 people in the so-called “Beltway sniper attacks” in October 2002. More recently, Scott Paul Beierle, who posted racist and sexist videos online and murdered two women at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida earlier this month, had been in the US Army from 2008 to 2010. The killer in the Parkland, Florida shooting, Nikolas Cruz, was a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). The list goes on and on.

More generally, the spree of mass killings has its deeper roots in the toxic soil of American capitalism. Gun Violence Archive estimates that the 307 shootings involving four or more victims this year alone have claimed 1,328 lives and injured another 1,251. The website calculates that there have been 49,000 gun violence incidents so far in 2018 in the US, leading to more than 12,000 deaths. Some 45,000 Americans took their own lives in 2016, while drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 in the US in 2017.

No remotely healthy society could generate such appalling statistics. America, as we have previously noted, is a nation at war with itself.

An Associated Press reporter was obliged to point out almost despairingly: “The bloodshed was the latest in what seems to be a never-ending string of mass shootings that are happening with terrifying frequency across the United States.”

No general social state of affairs can fully explain an individual act of madness. Every person guilty of a mass killing like the Thousand Oaks tragedy has his or her specific history and psychosis. But it is possible to enumerate certain of the conditions that have created the atmosphere in which these ghastly events occur with “terrifying frequency”:

  • A quarter century or more of increasingly unrestrained imperialist violence, exercised in many cases against largely defenseless peoples. America’s rulers talk and act like killers, and not only in regard to Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans and Mexican and Central American migrants. The poor and working class in America, when they resist, will also feel the full force of state savagery.
  • Vast and malignant social inequality, which creates at one pole of society a Mount Olympus of oligarch-gods with almost unlimited economic and political power, and, at the other, a mass of people who count for nothing and who are made to feel on a daily basis that they count for nothing.
  • The filthy, corrupt, widely despised political system, to which none of the tens of millions suffering or in need can look for any assistance or relief, or regard with hope. The recent election campaign brought home the reality that both major political parties are the dedicated and declared enemies of the working class and oppressed. It cannot be an accident that the November 6 election has now been bookended, so to speak, by the massacre of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh by a fascist anti-Semite less than two weeks before Election Day and the mass killing in Thousand Oaks, carried out by a former Marine, two days after it.
  • The general brutalization and debasement of American society, including popular culture and the media. Nowhere on earth is life cheaper than in American films, television and popular music. Over the period of the “war on terror”, a good many film and television writers and directors have turned their attention to glorifying homicidal killers, in or out of uniform, torture and other barbarisms.

The sickness of American society is reaching a terminal state. Only social revolution can cure the disease.

VIGIL FOR THOUSAND OAKS VICTIMS Hundreds crowded the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks to pay their respects at an emotional vigil for 12 people killed in a mass shooting Wednesday night. [HuffPost]

California Bloodbath Survivor ‘Never Thought’ It Could Happen To Him: here.

NRA TO DOCTORS: ‘STAY IN YOUR LANE’ Physicians who treat bullet wounds and deal with gun-related deaths were stunned when the NRA directed “self-important anti-gun” doctors to “stay in your lane.” The Twitter attack just hours before 12 people were killed in a California bar triggered an avalanche of angry responses from physicians, other health care workers and their supporters. [HuffPost]

Feminist Malalai Joya on Afghanistan and Kurdistan

North Syrian Kurdish women YPJ anti-ISIS fighters. Photo: BijiKurdistan/Creative Commons

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Afghan activist Malalai Joya praises the ‘brave women of Kurdistan

AFGHAN former politician Malalai Joya hailed the “brave women of Kurdistan” as a “source of inspiration” today, praising them for leading the fight against jihadist terror in Syria.

The activist and writer was ejected from the Afghan parliament in 2007 after she criticised the presence of warlords and criminals among her fellow legislators.

She said people don’t feel safe in Afghanistan, noting that, after nearly two decades of war, “bombs, suicide blasts, drone attacks, public executions, rape and gang rape, abduction and other tragedies threaten the life of our people every second. “

Ms Joya, however, struck a hopeful note as she spoke of the ongoing resistance to brutal regimes across the world.

“There is always light and hope, no matter how dark and long the tunnel. It is my belief, and history has shown, that oppression cannot prevail forever. There will always be revolutionary struggle by the masses that will break the back of oppressors, no matter how mighty and powerful they are”, she said.

“Today, the proof of this, and a source of hope and inspiration, is the united and organised struggle of the brave men and women of Kurdistan against the Isis brutes and dictator regime of [Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan.”

As George W. Bush Gets “Liberty Medal”, Afghan People Suffer 17th Year in Nation “Made a Hell” by US Invasion. “After the Taliban we were expecting something good, but instead, day by day, it is getting worse”: here.

German mass deportation of refugees to Afghan war

This video says about itself:

Afghanistan: Deported refugee commits suicide after return to Kabul

12 July 2018

Deported refugees and government officials lamented the suicide of a 23-year-old Afghan man who died six days after being deported from Germany, on a visit to a Kabul guesthouse on Thursday.

Returnees from Austria said they had been forced into a corner by European governments.

“I cannot live in Afghanistan and don’t know what to do? Where do I go? I want to survive and live in peace”, said Wazir Hussain.

While Sayed Kamal said he was deported “for no reason”.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, Hafiz Ahmad Maikhel, urged partners in Europe to show mercy to Afghan asylum seekers.

“We ask the European countries to consider violence in Afghanistan while they are processing the applications of Afghan asylum seekers”, he stated in a brief interview.

Jamal Nasser’s body was found at the Spinzar Hotel, temporary accommodation provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to returning migrants who have nowhere to go.

He was on a flight carrying 69 failed asylum seekers which left Munich on July 4. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer made a joke about celebrating his 69th birthday on the same date.

By Marianne Arens in Germany:

German government organises mass deportations of refugees to Kabul

9 October 2018

The louder the protests of working people, the more deliberate and mercilessly the government pursues its right-wing policies. The most recent collective deportations to Kabul in war-torn Afghanistan were carried out on “German Unity Day”, of all days.

On the same day, October 3, 40,000 people took to the streets in the Bavarian state capital to protest against increased police powers and the “politics of fear.” A few days earlier, more than 30,000 people had demonstrated in Hamburg. In September alone, mass demonstrations against racism and xenophobia took place in Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt, Chemnitz and other cities.

Despite this, the grand coalition of the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) is accelerating the pace of its deportation operations. … Because they are preparing social attacks on all workers, the establishment politicians resort to crackdowns on refugees to divide and intimidate the population at large.

Seventeen people were flown to Afghanistan in the latest collective deportation. Eight of them came from Bavaria, the other nine from Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein and Saxony. Sixty-three federal and four Bavarian state police officers are said to have accompanied them.

With this deportation to a war zone, the state and federal interior ministers are trampling on basic democratic rights, such as the right of asylum and the Geneva Convention on Refugees. Afghanistan is anything but a “safe country of origin”. On average, about 35 members of the security forces die there every day in fighting and attacks by radical Islamists, as the NGO International Crisis Group has reported. In the first half of 2017, almost 1,700 civilians died in violent conflicts, the highest number since 2009. Overall, the number of people killed through violence in Afghanistan in 2018 could reach a new high of well over 20,000.

Since the US and other NATO powers, including Germany, occupied the country 17 years ago, Afghanistan has been in a state of war. Just hours before the aircraft started its engines in Munich on October 3, there was another bloody attack on a public event in the province of Nangarhar. At least 13 people, including children, were killed and more than 30 injured.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the security situation in Afghanistan has recently deteriorated significantly. On August 30, in its latest guidelines, the UNHCR urgently called for a deportation ban to this country. Kabul cannot be a place of safety for those affected, according to UNHCR guidelines. “Members of the civilian population who participate in everyday economic and social life in Kabul are at risk of falling victim to the general violence affecting the city.”

Moreover, the population in Kabul is increasingly suffering from poverty and hunger. This reassessment by the UNHCR has already resulted in Finland suspending deportations until further notice. But not the German government.

On behalf of the minister of the interior, State Secretary Helmut Teichmann said that the directive of the High Commissioner for Refugees represents “a mere recommendation of the UNHCR, based on the evaluation of various sources. The BAMF [Federal Office for Migration and Refugees], however, continues to hold the view that Kabul is fundamentally eligible as a place of internal safety.”

The brutality and recklessness of the authorities are shown by the cases reported by the Bavarian Refugee Council and other bodies. Accordingly, in the early morning hours of October 2, a young Afghan man was arrested in Nuremberg. He had been living in Germany for eight years, had his own apartment and was in a steady relationship with a woman for seven years. “An apprenticeship as a gardener was terminated because he was constantly being called to the immigration office”, writes the Refugee Council. “A new job offer as a drywall constructor is available but has not been approved by the immigration authority. The potential employer would be happy to hire him because he desperately needs dedicated workers.”

In two other cases, deportation was aborted at the last minute due to protests. These cases only hint at what fate threatens those who are nevertheless deported.

Eighteen-year-old vocational student Ahmed A. was arrested in Passau on September 27 at his college and taken into deportation custody five days before the deportation flight. On October 1, he was to have started his training course. The young man is from Ghazni, a town taken by the Taliban a few weeks ago. Only when teachers, classmates and friends organised a public campaign for him was Ahmed released, shortly before the deportation was to take place.

It was a similar experience for Mujtaba A., a 22-year-old Afghan, also from Passau. He was arrested on September 18 and placed in deportation custody in Bremen. He too was only released due to widespread public protests. Mujtaba had successfully completed a year of vocational college and then completed a six-week internship as a cook in a restaurant. The company had agreed he could undertake his chef’s apprenticeship there. The only thing missing was a work permit from the Central Immigration Office.

The young man, who is not accused of any crime, lives in a committed relationship with a mother of two children. She had done everything in her power and successfully alerted the Bavarian media to save her partner from deportation at the last minute. However, these cases only show how arbitrarily the authorities act and that the officially claimed case-by-case examination is a fable.

The deportation of the 17 Afghans to Kabul on the night of October 3 brings the number of people expelled to the war zone to 383. There were 228 this year alone. The largest mass deportation to Afghanistan so far, some 69 people, took place at the beginning of July. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had celebrated this with downright sadistic satisfaction: “Precisely on my 69th birthday, 69 people—I didn’t plan it that way—were returned to Afghanistan. This is far above the usual number.” A few days later, it was announced that one of the deportees had taken his own life after his forcible return to Kabul.

Yemen, Afghanistan wars kill many civilians

This video says about itself:

(Beirut, August 27, 2015) – Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces appear to have used cluster munition rockets in at least seven attacks in Yemen’s northwestern Hajja governorate, killing and wounding dozens of civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks were carried out between late April and mid-July 2015.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

US wars claim soaring civilian casualties in Yemen and Afghanistan

28 September 2018

Two reports issued in recent days have provided a searing indictment of the US war in Afghanistan and the US-backed and Saudi-led assault on Yemen. In both countries, civilian casualties are soaring, the vast majority of them caused by US bombs and missiles dropped upon defenseless populations.

Both reports were issued in the midst of the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, where Trump and his aides set out to bully the entire population of the planet.

In his speech to the UN, Trump indicted Iran for sowing “chaos, death, and destruction” in the Middle East, while portraying Washington as a force for “peace and stability” in the region. The facts, however, show that the greatest force for death, terror and destruction remains US imperialism, whose multiple wars have claimed well over a million lives over the past 17 years.

Trump also absurdly credited the UAE and Saudi Arabia with “pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war”, even as they continued to bombard the country, murdering hundreds of civilians.

A report issued by the Armed Location and Event Data Project (ALEDP) this week has revealed that the number of civilians slaughtered in Yemen has soared by 164 percent since June, when the Saudi-led coalition launched its brutal siege against the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. August was the bloodiest month, so far, with the International Rescue Committee reporting that nearly 500 people were killed over the course of just nine days.

The International Rescue Committee issued a report based on the ALEDP’s findings pointing out that “since 2015, the [US-backed] coalition has undertaken 18,000 airstrikes–one every 99 minutes–one third of which have hit non-military targets.” These strikes are responsible for the great majority of the deaths of more than 16,000 civilians since the war began. Tens of thousands more have died from disease and hunger, and an estimated 8.4 million Yemenis are confronting famine.

Washington gave the greenlight for the siege of Hodeidah, which is aimed at cutting off the lifeline for food, medicine and other basic supplies to the majority of the population who live in areas of the country controlled by the Houthi rebel movement that overthrew the US and Saudi-backed puppet regime of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2014.

The United Nations has warned that the siege could claim as many as a quarter of a million lives outright and push millions more over the brink of starvation.

The report also comes just weeks after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally certified to Congress that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are taking steps to alleviate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis and protect civilian lives. The certification, required under a toothless amendment attached to the US military spending bill, was a condition for continuing the midair refueling that US Air Force tanker planes provide for Saudi warplanes so that they can conduct their round-the-clock bombing of Yemen’s population.

The refueling operation is only one of the means by which Washington makes possible the Saudi-led siege of Yemen. The Pentagon provides critical intelligence and targeting assistance from a joint command center in Riyadh and has deployed US warships that back up the Saudi-UAE blockade of the starving country. It also, of course, provides tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry being used to attack Yemen.

Pompeo’s cynical certification came in the wake of a pair of bloody massacres in August in which Saudi jets struck a school bus in a crowded market area, killing 51 people including 40 children, as well a truck packed with refugees fleeing the siege of Hodeidah, killing four women and 22 children.

The Wall Street Journal last week published a report based upon a leaked classified State Department memo, revealing that Pompeo brushed aside concerns expressed by department officials over the bloodbath unfolding in Yemen. He did so based on a warning from his legislative affairs aides that failure to provide the human rights certification “will negatively impact pending arms transfers” and “may also negatively impact future foreign military sales and direct commercial sales to the region.”

Of particular concern was a deal struck by Raytheon Co. to sell more than $2 billion worth of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It was a Raytheon missile that annihilated the bus full of school children last month

Nearly half of arms sales by the US–the greatest weapons exporter in the world–now go to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia its largest customer, accounting for 18 percent of sales. Total weapons exports set a new record in fiscal 2017, rising to $75.9 billion.

While the profit interests of US arms manufacturers are no doubt a critical concern, Washington, under both the Obama and the Trump administrations, has supported the war on Yemen based upon the pursuit of definite geostrategic interests in curbing Iranian influence in the region and pursuing regime change in Tehran.

This policy of reckless aggression has intensified under the Trump administration, which abrogated the international nuclear agreement with Tehran and has imposed punishing economic sanctions that are tantamount to an act of war.

Both Washington and Riyadh see the survival of any regime in Yemen that is not under their thumb as an unacceptable challenge to their dominance of the region and the curtailment of Iran. Both US and Saudi authorities have sought to cast the Houthi rebels who overthrew the US-Saudi puppet regime of President Hadi as Iranian “proxies,” while claiming, without any evidence, that Tehran is supplying them with arms.

Meanwhile, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has reported a 52 percent increase in civilian casualties resulting from airstrikes by US warplanes and the US-controlled Afghan air force in the first six months of this year. The number of bombs dropped by the US Air Force has nearly doubled over this period, to nearly 3,000.

The escalation of the 17-year-old US war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of 1,600 civilians between January and June–according to the UN’s undoubtedly low count–and forced another 160,000 to flee their homes.

The UNAMA report found tragic fresh confirmation after it was issued with a pair of US bombings that claimed the lives of at least 25 Afghan civilians. The agency reported on Wednesday that 12 people, 10 children and two women, were killed in a bombing in the central province of Maidan Wardak late on Monday. This followed an airstrike on Saturday that demolished the house of a teacher in the eastern province of Tagab, killing 13 civilians, most of them women and children.

On Wednesday, angry residents of the Chardara district of Kunduz Province carried the bodies of the victims of yet another airstrike that killed a 45-year-old woman and two teenage girls into the provincial capital, chanting slogans against the government and the US occupation forces.

“They martyred three women. My son, who is a university student in economics faculty, and my daughter, Atifa, are wounded—they are in a serious condition in hospital currently”, Mohammed, a teacher in the village school, told the New York Times. “They destroyed my life.”

In Afghanistan, as in Yemen, US imperialism is pursuing definite geostrategic interests. The war begun 17 years ago as a supposed response to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington has from its outset been directed at establishing a US beachhead in Central Asia, near the strategic oil fields of the Caspian Basin and on the border of China. Recent attempts by Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan to jointly broker a peace process in Afghanistan have only fueled Washington’s military violence in the country.

The horrific war crimes in both Yemen and Afghanistan and the prospect of millions of Yemenis dying of starvation as a result of US-backed military operations have received virtually no coverage in the US media. Neither are they an issue in the upcoming midterm elections, in which the Democrats are running as no less a war party than the Republicans, advancing a field of ex-CIA and military candidates and demanding a harder line against Russia.

To press its campaign against Iran, Russia and China, US imperialism is willing to sacrifice the lives of millions and is preparing for far bloodier wars. This eruption of US and world imperialism, threatening the destruction of humanity, can be prevented only by the revolutionary mobilization of the international working class to put an end to capitalism.

17 years in, there’s no end in sight for the Afghan war: here.

Rare goat species discovery in Afghanistan

This 2016 video from Pakistan says about itself:

Markhor (national animal of Pakistan) video

in this video you will see markhor in the wild. Markhor live in the mountain and cold weather areas of Pakistan. … People hunt them and now the markhor species is in danger. If the government will not not take steps against the hunting of markhor, then soon this animal will be no more in Pakistan. …

In Pakistan, markhor hunting is still legal. The government should stop the hunting of markhor, people come from other countries for markhor trophy hunting.

From the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the USA:

Ecologists report sighting rare wild goat species in Afghanistan

September 14, 2018

Based on field surveys in northern Afghanistan, Zalmai Moheb, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan Program and a doctoral candidate in environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with others, report this week that they have for the first time documented by direct observation the presence of two rare Asian wild goat species in the country.

The species, both of concern to conservationists, are the markhor (Capra falconeri) or screw-horned goat, and the Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), which occur in several countries. Both have been reported in Afghanistan, but few studies have been made there in recent years and their distribution is largely unknown, Moheb points out.

The report of field surveys he and colleagues conducted from July to October 2011 has just been published in the annual newsletter of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Caprinae Specialist Group.

Moheb and colleagues report that they directly observed markhor and ibex on the Afghan side of the Amu Darva River, the border with Tajikistan, for the first time in the Shahr-e Buzurg district and the Darwaz region, plus indirect field evidence and local community reports.

They say, “The strip of land along the Amu Darya River from western Darwaz to Shahr-e Buzurg district through Khawahan and Raghistan districts should be a priority site for future markhor and ibex conservation in Afghanistan. If protection measures are taken, this area along with the adjacent protected area in Tajikistan, could act as valuable and viable refuge for sustaining markhor and other wild species that inhabit the region.”

Moheb and co-authors Said Naqibullah Mostafawi and Peter Zahler, with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the time of the survey, plus his advisor at UMass Amherst professor Todd Fuller, point out that the animals are “nominally protected” from hunting, but both species are most likely hunted throughout their range by local tribesmen. Zahler is now vice president of conservation initiatives at Woodland Park Zoo, Washington, D.C. and Mostafawi is now a free-lance consultant.

For this work, the research ecologists surveyed a strip of shrubby scrubland along the Amu Darya River in four districts of Afghanistan’s northern Badakhshan Province. They visited 46 villages and four field sites, most in valleys, over 115 square miles (300 sq. km) in Shahr-e Buzurg and 770 square miles (1,997 sq. km) in the Darwaz region. They also interviewed and showed photographs to village headmen, hunters and shepherds believed to be the most knowledgeable about local wildlife.

They also visited potential markhor and ibex habitats suggested by sources using experienced local hunters as field guides to confirm animals in the area. In Shahr-e Buzurg the ecologists report 41 of 67 respondents, 61 percent, said that markhor were present and once abundant, but numbers have declined and few remain. The researchers themselves saw four markhor in the Payan-e Moor area and local hunters said they thought about 20 markhor were in the area. They also found horns and markhor skins.

In the Darwaz region, the researchers report that 37 percent, 15 of 40 respondents said markhor existed in the western part of the district, and the researchers themselves saw six animals and four pairs of markhor horns. Further, 56 percent of respondents, 74 or 131, said that ibex occurs in some parts of the region and showed them skin and horns.

Overall, the ecologists say markhor populations in Shahr-e Buzurg are believed to be small and may only survive due to animals coming in from Tajikistan. Markhor populations in Leiwgard in the Kof Ab district of Darwas appear “larger and more stable”, though still linked to nearby Tajik populations.

“We suspect that when water level drops in the river during winter, markhor could move between both areas,” the authors note. “The remoteness of Leiwgard is likely the primary reason that markhor and ibex still exist in this area.” Leiwgard is home to roughly 80 markhor, sources said, along with ibex, brown bear and snow leopards.

Local sources also reported that markhor and ibex share the same area, but markhor prefer lower elevations and steep cliffs, while ibex like higher elevations with colder environments. “This, if true, is one of the very few areas where these two caprid species overlap”, the researchers note.

Moheb and colleagues urge taking several conservation management actions to assist markhor and biodiversity in the area, in particular along the Amu Darya River. “This area is a priority for future markhor conservation and for other endangered wildlife such as snow leopard. The area has the advantage of being connected to the M-Sayod Conservancy on the Tajik side of the border, and so efforts could be combined between Afghanistan and Tajikistan to promote conservation in the larger area”, they point out. Coordinating conservation efforts could preserve unique habitats and endangered wildlife, they add.