The Granai airstrike, sometimes called the Granai massacre, refers to the killing of approximately 86 to 147 Afghan civilians by an airstrike by a US Air Force B-1 Bomber on May 4, 2009, in the village of Granai (sometimes spelled Garani or Gerani) in Farah Province, south of Herat, Afghanistan.
The United States admitted significant errors were made in carrying out the airstrike, stating "the inability to discern the presence of civilians and avoid and/or minimize accompanying collateral damage resulted in the unintended consequence of civilian casualties".
The Afghan government has said that around 140 civilians were killed, of whom 22 were adult males and 93 were children. Afghanistan's top rights body has said 97 civilians were killed, most of them children. Other estimates range from 86 to 147 civilians killed. An earlier probe by the US military had said that 20–30 civilians were killed along with 60–65 insurgents. A partially released American inquiry stated "no one will ever be able conclusively to determine the number of civilian casualties that occurred". The Australian has said that the airstrike resulted in "one of the highest civilian death tolls from Western military action since foreign forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001".
- "Bradley Manning leaked Granai Airstrike "~86-147, mostly women and children"" | 2013-06-08 | 233 Upvotes 173 Comments
M-Pesa (M for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money) is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania. It has since expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India and in 2014 to Romania and in 2015 to Albania. M-Pesa allows users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services (Lipa na M-Pesa) easily with a mobile device.
The service allows users to deposit money into an account stored on their cell phones, to send balances using PIN-secured SMS text messages to other users, including sellers of goods and services, and to redeem deposits for regular money. Users are charged a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service.
M-Pesa is a branchless banking service; M-Pesa customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents that includes airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents.
M-Pesa has spread quickly, and by 2010 had become the most successful mobile-phone-based financial service in the developing world. By 2012, a stock of about 17 million M-Pesa accounts had been registered in Kenya. By June 2016, a total of 7 million M-Pesa accounts have been opened in Tanzania by Vodacom. The service has been lauded for giving millions of people access to the formal financial system and for reducing crime in otherwise largely cash-based societies.
- "M-Pesa – a mobile-phone based money transfer and microfinancing service" | 2015-11-23 | 70 Upvotes 37 Comments
Nowruz (Persian: نوروز, pronounced [nowˈɾuːz]; lit. "new day") is the Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year, which is celebrated worldwide by various ethno-linguistic groups.
Nowruz has Iranian and Zoroastrian origins, however, it has been celebrated by diverse communities for over 7,000 years in Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, the Balkans, and South Asia. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians, Bahais, and some Muslim communities.
Nowruz is the day of the vernal equinox, and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the first day of the first month (Farvardin) of the Iranian calendars. It usually occurs on March 21 or the previous or following day, depending on where it is observed. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year, and families gather together to observe the rituals.
While Nowruz has been celebrated since the reform of the Iranian Calendar in the 11th century CE to mark the new year, the United Nations officially recognized the "International Day of Nowruz" with the adoption of UN resolution 64/253 in 2010.
The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century monumental statues of Vairocana Buddha and Gautama Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan, 130 kilometres (81 mi) northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). Carbon dating of the structural components of the Buddhas has determined that the smaller 38 m (125 ft) "Eastern Buddha" was built around 570 AD, and the larger 55 m (180 ft) "Western Buddha" was built around 618 AD.
The statues represented a later evolution of the classic blended style of Gandhara art. The statues consisted of the male Salsal ("light shines through the universe") and the (smaller) female Shamama ("Queen Mother"), as they were called by the locals. The main bodies were hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs, but details were modeled in mud mixed with straw, coated with stucco. This coating, practically all of which wore away long ago, was painted to enhance the expressions of the faces, hands, and folds of the robes; the larger one was painted carmine red and the smaller one was painted multiple colors. The lower parts of the statues' arms were constructed from the same mud-straw mix supported on wooden armatures. It is believed that the upper parts of their faces were made from great wooden masks or casts. The rows of holes that can be seen in photographs held wooden pegs that stabilized the outer stucco.
The Buddhas are surrounded by numerous caves and surfaces decorated with paintings. It is thought that the period of florescence was from the 6th to 8th century AD, until the onset of Islamic invasions. These works of art are considered as an artistic synthesis of Buddhist art and Gupta art from India, with influences from the Sasanian Empire and the Byzantine Empire, as well as the country of Tokharistan.
The statues were blown up and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols. International and local opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas. Some Taliban sources credited Omar's decision to blow up the Buddha statues to the growing influence of Osama bin Laden.