Thursday, November 22, 2001
F r i d a y ,  N o v e m b e r  2 3,  2 0 0 1
Saturday, November 24, 2001

Kunduz & Kandahar Fights to the Death?

Excerpts from articles describing the fears and challenges remaining in the US efforts to end Taliban control of Kunduz and Kandahar:

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... Officials feared the international repercussions of a massacre by the US-led international coalition's unofficial allies, but also expressed concern that a large part of the Taliban force could escape unscathed if unreliable Northern Alliance leaders made a deal with them.

... There are unknown thousands of foreign Taliban in Afghanistan, believed to be a mixture of Pakistanis, Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks, many with links to al-Qaeda.

... The fears of mass killings of foreign Taliban fighters brought a strong protest from Pakistan, the crucial front-line ally of the US-led coalition. Large numbers of Pakistanis have crossed the border to join Taliban ranks.

Pakistan's leaders appealed last night to the United Nations, the US and the international community to make "special efforts" to avoid a massacre at Kunduz.

... As a measure of the distrust that abounds, he added: "These [foreign Taliban fighters] are evil people. When an evil person is cornered, he surrenders. But as soon as he gets a chance to stab you in the back, he will take it."

The Alliance pounded Kunduz with rocket and tank fire, and US B-52 bombers and fighter jets were so busy in the skies overhead on Thursday and again yesterday that it looked as though they were queuing up to drop their deadly loads.

Northern Alliance soldier stands beside
rocket launcher, gazing up at B-52
circling overhead near Kunduz, 11/23/01

... The risk at Kunduz is that the Alliance attack could become a bloodbath. The international community has had the Alliance under pressure to avoid massacres such as those that have studded Afghan history, particularly in recent years.

... Despite the Taliban's assertion they are in full control of their last southern stronghold of Kandahar, they have refused the media access and expelled about 100 foreign journalists they had invited.

The order to leave on Thursday, after three days of being restricted to a government compound, was seen as a sign that the Taliban's grip on Kandahar province may be tenuous after six weeks of air raids. ...

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Man of Steel Certain He Can Make Skyscrapers Stronger, Safer

Excerpts describing the efforts of a steel expert to strengthen buildings:

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Like so many Americans, Hassan Astaneh sat glued to his TV, shocked, as the twin towers burned. Unlike most viewers, he almost immediately sensed a bigger disaster looming.

"I realized the intensity of the fire was really bad when I saw the fire was that white and yellow. I told my wife, 'That's not looking good,' " the Berkeley civil-engineering professor recalled. "When it collapsed ... I knew I would be involved."

The Iranian American is one of the nation's leading experts on structural steel. He finds himself a key part of the disaster's engineering postmortem, one of four engineers armed with emergency grants from the National Science Foundation to study the disaster and its immediate aftermath.

He also finds himself in a painful position: a Muslim angry his fellow Middle Easterners could cause so much death, an American citizen repeatedly interrogated by federal agents as he tries to keep it from happening again.

He searches the twisted wreckage for clues that could help engineers understand exactly what caused the towers to collapse. More than that, he is determined to use the information to find ways to design safer — even bombproof — buildings.

"We have to know what happened here," he said. "It's like doing an autopsy."

... He has been asked a few times what he's doing in the World Trade Center debris. "I was very happy that one day FBI agents came by my hotel and interrogated me ... we are now very close friends," he said. "It wasn't prejudice, they were just doing their job."

... Not everyone believes building performance can be improved greatly. The actions that took out the World Trade Center were so damaging and unexpected that many engineers have said there was no way to protect against them. Bombproofing buildings, they argue, would be too expensive and would allow only forbidding, cavelike structures.

Nonsense, Astaneh said. "Are you going to say, 'If the Sears Tower is attacked, there's nothing we can do. It's too bad?' " Cost-effective ways exist to build stronger buildings and to retrofit existing buildings, he said.

... The engineer also is developing and testing a new shear wall, lightweight concrete bolted to steel, that can absorb much of a bomb's blast. In tests using extreme force, the concrete crumbled, but columns holding up the building held.

Such technology, Astaneh said, would add 1 to 2 percent to construction costs but could help buildings withstand major earthquakes and bomb blasts.

Such strong shear walls, he said, could prevent planes from entering and delivering massive amounts of fuel into tall buildings as they did at the World Trade Center.

Giving up on trying to fortify buildings, he said, is not the American way. It is certainly not the way of engineers, who like nothing more than solving problems. "In engineering," he said, "there is nothing you cannot do."

... Structural engineers don't get the glory of architects. They usually stay behind the scenes. But these experts in steel and construction are emerging from the shadow of the World Trade Center disaster. Many who design and build the world's skyscrapers take the attack almost personally.

"It's your product, and they used it to kill people," Astaneh said. "We want to make it right somehow."

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God of christians, God of muslims ...

The destroyer, the saver, the almighty ...

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The God of christians (World Trade Center God for survivors of terrorists' attack on America) [The Times - link inactive]:

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Death can strike in an instant, he declares.
“People all over the world are dying without Jesus and face eternal death,” he shouts.

... As tons of steel and concrete began cascading downwards with a deafening roar he shouted: “We’re going to die. Do you know the Lord? I said ‘Call upon the
name of the Lord and you’ll be saved’, and these people started crying out ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’.”

He said that he had lain on the ground for 20 minutes, thinking of his family and expecting to be killed at any moment. When the deluge ended he was covered in 3 ft of dust and debris.

The others did not make it, he said. “But I felt the peace of God as never before because I knew they were in a better place.” ...

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The God of muslims (tanker driver God for survivors of American destruction of tankers in Afghanistan) [The Times - link inactive]:

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... Abdullah is grateful to have escaped with his life, but he gives no credit to the Americans’ efforts to avoid civilian casualties by removing the drivers from the convoy.

He believes that a higher force intervened that night, the first of the Muslim holy month, to save him and his friends from the enemy. “It’s because of the grace of Allah,” he said, “that we are alive today.” ...

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Isn't the God game fun? You can play, too. No doubt allowed. Just believe. Woo-hoo! Oh, and don't forget, the God of power for victims can be the God of power for mass murderers, too ... yikes!

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The God of muslims (terrorists' God for mass suiciders / mass murderers of 9-11-01):

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Everybody hates death, fears death... But only those, the believers who know the life after death and the reward after death, would be the ones who will be seeking death.

... Remind yourself that in this night you will face many challenges. But you have to face them and understand it 100 percent.

... Obey God, his messenger, and don't fight
among yourself where you become weak, and stand fast, God will stand with those who stood fast."

... There is no God but God, I being a sinner. We are of God, and to God we return....

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Prophets of Doom and Some Believers Fear the Worst

Excerpts from article describing the latest efforts of "the end is near prophets" to profit off of tragedy and fear:

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September 11 has invigorated the cataclysmic theology embraced by many Christian fundamentalists.

... The September 11 attacks have invigorated the apocalyptic theology embraced by many Christian fundamentalists, who view the collapse of the World Trade Centre towers as the latest harbinger of the end times.

Pastors are predicting that the second coming is near, with some going so far as to speculate that they could be preaching their final sermons.

... the leaders of the prophecy movement are always looking for cataclysmic events to validate their doomsday scenarios and paper over previously failed forecasts. "There are always these events that the prophecy teachers seize upon and say, 'See, I told you so'." ...

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