Apr 29, 2021

getting the covid vaccine

I waited long enough to make sure that I'm not among the privileged ones to receive the covid vaccine before those in need. Given my field of occupation, I fall under the category 1b, meaning that I am eligible for covid vaccine as those essential workers at stores, transportation, etc. I thought it is a privilege that other don't have and it made me uncomfortable because I've never considered myself to be in that position. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I went online on the university's health portal, I saw several openings. I was hesitant. I went back a week after and saw more openings. Then, I was convinced that perhaps a lot of people have vaccinated in my community, then I registered. The following day, I received my first shot of Pfizer vaccine which wasn't too bad except that I felt soreness in my arm that I was told is a common effect. I couldn't do workout for the next 24 hours but it went away quickly. There wasn't any serious side affect involved but the second shot was completely different. 

Yesterday, I received the second dose of the covid vaccine. I took it in the morning and I felt fine throughout the day but in the middle of night I felt chills in my body. It knocked me down for at least 12 hours. I recovered pretty quickly without taking any tylenol or ibuprofen. I was told to take pain relief medication but I ignored it and jokingly told a friend that I am a caveman and can make covid vaccine sick. It was the other way around. My body responded but lightly. Last night at midnight, I went for a mid-night stroll in the alleys and the surrounding streets. It was deserted except for the cars that were occasionally passing by. I came back and slept. I woke up in the morning. I felt extremely well. I feel relieved to have received the vaccine and I hope everyone receives it so that we get back to normal. 

Victim of conspiracy theory

No wonder why misinformation has become such a serious problem. Here's an example of how conspiracy theories are so alluring that even grown-ups can fall prey to it. It has become so dangerous that it can render its victims devoid of faculty for practical judgement, which ultimately lead to the deprivation of individual's agency because it erodes the very foundation of knowledge that is imperative to social agency.

In a video clip shared on twitter (see below) Donald Wagner, a GOP lawmaker of the Orange County asks doctor if vaccines had tracking devices. At first, it sounds like a joke but it is not, it's real. I quote what he says in the video clip: 

Is there any--in the vaccine--we heard about the injection of a tracking device. Is that being done anywhere in Orange County?

It took a few seconds for the top health official Clayton Chau to figure out what he just heard. The doctor's answer is NOPE. 

It is very unfortunate that Wagner is elected in that capacity, it is so embarrassing to have him in that position because politicians like him can drive people to danger and that can be more lethal than the coronavirus itself. Maybe it is not very surprising to hear such an absurdity since one of the super-spreaders of covid-19 misinformation, Trump suggested whether coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.

If he would be seriously worried about tracking and surveillance, tracking happens through other means, for instance through fitbit, cookies, http referer, smartphones, smartwatches, and other virtual assistant AI. Wagner is currently representing 600,000 residents in District Three (Anaheim Hills, Irvine, Orange, Tustin, North Tustin, Villa Park, Yorba Linda, and the unincorporated canyons) and previously served as a mayor of Irvine. His profile says, he is "a vigorous advocate of public safety," considering his denials, the right wording would, he's a threat to public safety.

Apr 24, 2021

Armenian genocide and the Hazara massacres 1888-1893

Fearing of alienating Turkey, for decades US presidents have tried to avoid recognizing the events of 1915-1923 that led to 1.5 million death of Armenians at the hands Turks as "genocide." Finally, today, Biden is going to acknowledge the Ottoman Turks atrocities as genocide. It is considered to be the most monstrous crime against humanity to have occurred in the outset of the twentieth century. But it is not the only one, in fact, almost 25 years before another genocide occurred against indigenous population of the Hazaras in Afghanistan.

Abdul Rahman khan, a Pashtun leader organized a mass genocidal campaign between 1888 and 1893 in order to subjugate the Hazaras in Hazarajat, a geographical area in central Afghanistan. The Pashtun Sunni mullahs declared fatwas that the Hazaras are infidel and they must be killed. Suddenly, every Pashtun rose up to become ghazi, someone who kills non-Muslim for pleasing the Muslim God and wishes to enter to heaven. 

In addition to government forces, ordinary Pashtuns joined the onslaught. Between 1888-1893, more than 60% of the Hazara population was vanished, some were displaced but the majority of them were massacred while thousands of others sold in slave markets such as khiva, Bukhara, Bombay, Kabul, and Kandahar. 

Here is a piece of news dated October 19, 1893, published in The Argus, a local newspaper based in Brighton, UK. It says: "Advices from Cabul [Kabul] state that the Ameer [Amir abdul Rahman khan] has sold 10,000 of the captive Hazaras as slaves in order to defray the expenses incurred in suppressing the rising."

This crime is one of examples that was reported and documented but not all events were reported, especially the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Hazaras, displacement of hundreds of thousands of others who permanently left their native land. Human rights groups have moral responsibilities to dig into history and investigate the crimes, so that one day, the mass atrocities against the Hazaras by Pashtuns also be recognized as a genocide. 

As we are going to hear today Biden's acknowledgment of Arminian genocide, I hope the young generation of Turks today take a moment and think what had their ancestors done against the Armenians. Instead of being ashamed, they should feel sympathetic and acknowledge those events as genocide. Equally, I hope young Pashtuns today feel the same whose ancestors committed atrocities against the innocent Hazaras. They should come out and acknowledge our historical pain and suffering so that we can hope and realize a better future alongside each other.

Related topic:
Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan by the Taliban between January 2001 and May 2000

Apr 21, 2021

Vartan Gregorian Passed Away at 87

I am very saddened to hear that Vartan Gregorian just passed away. There is an obituary of him published in the New York Times that chronicles his academic and philanthropic achievements as well as his service to American people. He was born the city of Tabriz to a Christian family who moved to the US at age 22. I have been knowing him from his book, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1880-1946 (1969). Initially it was written as a dissertation but later he turned it to a book. 

Among many books written on the modern history of Afghanistan, I found Gregorian's book remarkably comprehensive. He highlights every turn of events between 1880 and 1946 to carefully analyze and provide a clear picture of how modern Afghanistan has tumultuously been emerging. After I graduated from college, I wrote him an e-mail to inquire whether he was looking for a research assistant because I heard from Jeffrey that he was planning to rewrite his book on Afghanistan. At the time, he was the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He kindly replied to my e-mail, ironically dated April 11, 2014, he died on April 15. 

My dear Nasim:

 

Thank you for your email.  I am glad that you enjoyed The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan.  I am very grateful for your interest in research assistance.  However, I have completed the bulk of the research for the next edition of the book and do not have a need for help at this time.  I will hold on to your contact information, however, in case I embark on further updates or publications and find myself in need of someone with your expertise.  Thank you again.

 

With best wishes,

 

Yours,

Vartan Gregorian

I am not sure whether he had a chance to publish it. I hope someone will take it to a publisher, it will be a huge contribution to the body of knowledge on Afghanistan, a country that has been engulfed in violence and turmoil for centuries. I am curious what he wanted to add and what informed his decision to rewrite the book.

Apr 19, 2021

Unfinished Job and Hasty Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

I am reposting this piece that I wrote for CNN in December 2009 when Obama planned to send more troops to Afghanistan to "finish the job" and bring back the troops. I argued that sending more troops doesn't help, instead, the US should allocate all those resources to train Afghan security forces. This year, Biden has decided to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan leaving behind nothing but a shaky, discriminatory and corrupt administration with weak and worn out security forces. 

After a long debate over increasing troops in Afghanistan, finally, President Obama said that he has decided to send around 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. Now, deploying 30,000 troops to Afghanistan is a good idea but I’m doubtful that this will work as a long-term strategy to “finish the job.” A long-term strategy to mitigate the violence and end the war in Afghanistan is to train and equip the Afghan National Army.

No so long ago in July 2009, around 4,000 U.S. Marines alongside 650 Afghan police and soldiers took a massive operation called Khanjar (dagger) in Helmand in southern Afghanistan. It was supposed to wipe the Taliban out of the area but ultimately nothing remarkably happened. The Taliban mobilized their insurgency against international forces, Afghan Army and police in different areas and especially started moving to the northern Afghanistan. Northern Afghanistan, which has been quite peaceful since 2002, in the spring 2009 became insecure and unstable - hindering the peaceful life of every Afghan. More troops will be unhelpful unless there is an explicit strategy towards the future. If the Obama administration does not plan a clear strategy for the next four or five years, sending triple number of these troops will not be helpful.

One of the reasons for failing in southern Afghanistan is that after the NATO troops cleaned the area of Taliban, they didn’t stay in there and the ANA (Afghan National Army) was not capable to take the security. Ultimately, the Taliban returned to the area. Horribly, the poor villagers who helped NATO forces and the ANA were targeted or killed by the Taliban. Musa Qala is one of the districts in Helmand that the most intensive operation took place. In 2006, it was turned into a terror university for Taliban and deemed to be influenced by Al Qaeda. The British troops fought against the Taliban and cleaned the area but they left the region for elder leaders and villagers that promised keep their own security. But a few months later, the Taliban attacked those whom worked and helped NATO forces and some were beheaded by the Taliban.

Unfortunately, since then, the locals lost trust towards foreign forces. This created a lack of confidence between foreign forces and Afghan locals because the locals are 100 percent sure that foreign forces will leave the area sooner or later but the Taliban will be back. The locals do not have interest in Taliban but they have no choice, they are exposed from both sides and ultimately they prefer the Taliban. It will take time for the Afghan government and its supporters to reshuffle its relationship among locals but still it is possible to regain.

It is imperative to plan a clear strategy alongside of extra troops in Afghanistan. Specifically, if the United States and its allies help and train the Afghan National Army they will be able to handle the task well. For the last eight years this was not taken serious and less money spent on training the army and more money spent on foreign forces. On November 12, the ministry of defense said that if the world communities fulfill their commitment to train and equip the ANA, within four years they will be capable of taking responsibility of security across the country.

Since 2002, especially when the insurgency increased in the southern region, training ANA wasn’t so much in demand. But within the next four years, if the Afghan government with the support of the United States and its allies focus on increasing the capability of ANA, soon we will witness that they will triumph over the enemy. And finally, by increasing the ANA capabilities, the United States and its allies will be able to finish the job, but not so hastily.

Apr 18, 2021

relentless gullibility

Here's an example of relentless gullibility from a representative, Luaren Boebert. I looked her up and found that she dropped out of high school in her senior year, and didn’t attend college, nothing to blame her there, but she still can educate herself by looking things up on google or in a book or ask someone to define what Marxism is. A Ponzi scheme is a product of Capitalism, not Marxism which theoretically sees a classless society where everyone is equally contributing to a common good. I suspect one reason that she tweeted about Ponzi scheme is because Bernie Madoff just passed away. I feel sorry for her and for the people who sent her to congress. Apparently, she is also a QAnon enthusiast.


Apr 16, 2021

they are leaving

They came, made a mess, and now they are going back. Then there are the unfortunate and defenseless people like the Hazaras who have no way to escape and no ability to confront the most evils on earth. These evils (the Taliban) are celebrating the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, they call it a "defeat" because they claim to have brought the Americans to their knees. No, you didn't brought them to their knees, their mission is over. It has always been like this, in times of war, they come and destroy, and then return to where they came from.