Wednesday, September 30, 2015

​Afghan forces retake control of Kunduz from Taliban Dawn Oct 1 2015

An Afghan security vehicle advances towards the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — ReutersAn Afghan security vehicle advances towards the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — Reuters
An Afghan policeman patrols next to a burning vehicle in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — ReutersAn Afghan policeman patrols next to a burning vehicle in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — Reuters
An Afghan security vehicle advances towards the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — ReutersAn Afghan security vehicle advances towards the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — Reuters
An Afghan policeman patrols next to a burning vehicle in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — ReutersAn Afghan policeman patrols next to a burning vehicle in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. — Reuters

KABUL: Afghan forces retook control of the strategic northern city of Kunduz on Thursday after a three-day Taliban occupation that dealt a stinging blow to the country's North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato)-trained military.

The fall of the provincial capital, even temporarily, highlights the stubborn insurgency's potential to expand beyond its rural strongholds in the south of the country.

Afghan forces, hindered by the slow arrival of reinforcements but backed by limited United States (US) air support, struggled to regain control of the city after three days of heavy fighting.

Read: US air strike hits Taliban in captured Afghan city: Nato

But on Thursday troops managed to reach the centre of Kunduz where the streets were littered with Taliban bodies, residents told AFP, adding that fighting was still ongoing in parts of the city.

"Afghan special forces now control Kunduz City, it is retaken and being cleared of terrorists," interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter, adding that the insurgents had suffered heavy casualties.

Deputy Interior Minister Ayoub Salangi said the city had been recaptured after a "special operation" overnight.

Local residents reported deafening overnight bombardments, adding that the Taliban were still resisting Afghan forces in some parts of the city.

But some scenes of jubilation erupted around the city square where local residents, who suffered three days of crippling food shortages, thanked government troops.

"Afghan soldiers took down the white-and-black Taliban flag in the city square and hoisted the government flag," Kunduz resident Abdul Rahman told AFP.

"The Taliban suffered heavy casualties last night. Dead bodies are scattered on the streets, and their supporters are carrying them out of the city wrapped in white cloths."

Security officials said the militants had slowly infiltrated Kunduz during the recent Eid festival, launching a Trojan Horse attack that enabled them to capture it within hours on Monday.

The development coincided with the first anniversary of Ashraf Ghani's national unity government.

Marauding insurgents seized government buildings and freed hundreds of prisoners, raising their flag throughout Kunduz.

The lightning capture of the city sent thousands of panicked residents fleeing as insurgents erected checkpoints across the city and were seen racing vehicles stolen from the police, United Nations (UN) and Red Cross.

Militants exposed civilians to grave danger by hiding in people's houses and conducting door-to-door searches for Afghan soldiers and government staff, rights groups said.

Expanding insurgency

The Taliban's recent gains in Kunduz and neighbouring provinces highlight that a large and strategic patch of northern Afghanistan is imperilled by a rapidly expanding insurgency.

It is also seen as a game-changer for the fractious militant movement that has been dogged by a leadership crisis since the announcement in July of founder Mullah Omar's death.

"The Taliban know that they don't have the power to retain control of a big city like Kunduz," Kabul-based military analyst Atiqullah Amarkhil told AFP.

"But their takeover, however temporary, shows they are a force to reckon with before any future peace negotiations."

Their incursion into Kunduz, barely nine months after the Nato combat mission concluded, raised troubling questions about the capabilities of Afghan forces as they battle the militants largely on their own.

It has renewed questions about Washington's plan to withdraw most US troops from Afghanistan next year.

Even after years of training and equipment purchases — on which Washington spent $65 billion — Afghan forces have been unable to rein in the ascendant insurgency.

The Taliban stepped up attacks during a summer offensive launched in late April against the Western-backed government in Kabul.

After years of costly involvement, most Nato troops pulled back from the front lines by the end of 2014, although a residual force of around 13,000 remains for training and counter-terrorism operations.

Read: 'Northern Afghan city of Kunduz collapses into hands of Taliban'

Pink upcoming fighting breast cancer events + Calendar of events in Oct!! VC star 10/01/15

PINK upcoming events

7:30 PM, Sep 30, 2015
3 hours ago

Oct. 1-31

Pink T-shirt sales from Ventura firefighters: The Ventura City Fire Department and Ventura Fire Foundation are joining forces with the Downtown Ventura Organization to sell pink T-shirts as a fundraiser for the Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer Foundation in Ventura, which serves women and families in Ventura County. The T-shirts, $20 each, will be available at retail locations in downtown Ventura. In a show of support, Ventura firefighters will wear the T-shirts Oct. 1-15, and after that, they will wear pink ribbons on their clothing.

Pink T-shirt sales from Oxnard firefighters and police officers: The Oxnard Firefighters Association and Oxnard Peace Officers Association are hosting a monthlong effort to educate the public about breast cancer. All proceeds raised go to Ventura County Ribbons for Life. In October, all fire personnel are wearing pink shirts and all police personnel are wearing pink lapel pins. The goal of this year's campaign is to exceed the $10,000 the two associations raised last year. Pink T-shirts can be purchased for $20 at by calling 385-7705.

Premium Outlets pink event: For each donation of $10 or more to the Susan G. Komen organization, shoppers at Camarillo Premium Outlets, 740 E. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, will receive a savings coupon good for a 25 percent discount on a single item at selected stores. Visit

Low-cost mammograms: Community Memorial Health System is offering low-cost mammograms at the Breast Center at Community Memorial Hospital and at Ojai Valley Hospital. Call during October to schedule a mammogram for $65 (cash price). CMH: 652-5093 and OVCH: 640-2250. The Healthy Women's Program provides breast cancer screening and treatment and cervical cancer screening and vaccines to local women who lack access or funds for these lifesaving exams year-round.

Low-cost mammograms: Los Robles Imaging Center, 865 Patriot Drive in Moorpark, offers mammograms for $99 (cash price) in October. Call 523-8062 to schedule an appointment.

Low-cost or free mammograms with the mobile mammography van: The Ventura County Healthcare Agency offers mammograms at several locations countywide throughout October:

  • Magnolia Family Medical Center, Oxnard, Thursday, Friday and Monday, call 981-5151
  • Las Islas Family Medical Group, Oxnard, Oct. 8 and 9, call 240-7000
  • Moorpark Family Medical Clinic, Oct. 12, call 523-5400
  • Sheridan Way School, Ventura, Oct. 13, call 933-1122
  • Las Posas Family Medical Group, Camarillo, Oct. 14, call 437-0900
  • Conejo Valley Family Medical Group, Thousand Oaks, Oct. 15 and 16, call 418-9105
  • Sierra Vista Family Medical Clinic, Simi Valley, Oct. 19-23, call 582-4050
  • Fillmore Family Medical Group, Oct. 28, call 524-2000
  • Santa Paula Medical Clinic, Oct. 29, call 933-1122
  • West Ventura Medical Clinic, Oct. 30, call 641-5600

Schedule a mammogram appointment online:Dignity Health's St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard now offers a free online self-scheduling service for mammogram appointments. Appointments can be booked by visiting a computer, tablet or smartphone. Referrals are not required for mammograms at St. John's, and patients from all community doctors are welcome. Most major insurances are accepted.

OCT. 3

Free breast cancer symposium: St. John's Integrated Breast Center hosts the sixth annual Breast Symposium: Reconstructing Lives. The symposium is open to the public and takes place at Spanish Hills Country Club, 999 Crestview Ave., Camarillo. Registration and exhibits open at 8:30 a.m. Presentations begin at 9 a.m. from physicians who discuss the latest advancements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Information also will be presented about healthy eating, survivorship and risk management. A light lunch will be provided. Reservations are required as seating is limited. Call 988-2641.

Free breast cancer symposium: Community Memorial Health System hosts a free symposium at the Ventura Beach Marriott, 2055 E. Harbor Blvd. The event is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a light continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Local physicians and specialists will discuss genetic counseling for breast cancer, advancements in breast cancer surgery, lymphedema therapy, breast reconstruction, radiation and immunotherapy for breast cancer; and diagnostic imaging for breast cancer. Reservations are required. Visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006.

OCT. 3-4

Relay for Life of Simi Valley: The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is the world's largest fundraising event to end cancer. The Simi Valley relay takes place Saturday and Sunday at Rancho Tapo Community Park, 3700 Avenida Simi, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday and wrapping up at 9 a.m. Sunday. People interested in participating may register on the day of the event, including cancer survivors who are invited for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Participants will camp out overnight in the park. The goal for the Simi relay is to raise $200,000 for the American Cancer Society's research, free patient and caregiver services as well as prevention and early detection programs. To participate or donate,, or contact Natasha Ramsey at 818-841-3800

OCT. 6

Paint the Town Pink: Paint the Town Pink, hosted by The Oaks shopping center and Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, offers food, drinks, a silent auction and a ladies night out. The event is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at The Oaks, 350 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. Proceeds from tickets, which are $30 in advance or $40 at the door, benefit the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara and its programs to support breast cancer awareness and treatment. The ticket includes one cocktail, appetizers, desserts and a silent auction. The event is in the J.C. Penney interior courtyard between J.C. Penney and the food court. Visit

OCT. 9

Bunco party: Breast cancer patients and survivors are invited to attend a celebration with food and games at the Coastal Communities Cancer Center, Cancer Resource Center, 2900 Loma Vista Road, Suite 105, Ventura. The event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests can bring a dish to share, but it's not required. RSVP: 652-5459.

OCT. 10

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer: Organized as a noncompetitive 5K walk, the event will raise money for the American Cancer Society. It takes place at Harbor Cove Beach in the Ventura Harbor, 1878 Spinnaker Drive. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. and entertainment begins at 8 a.m., followed by the opening reception and the walk at 9 a.m. Relay for Life will be doing a paddle-out after the walk. For event and registration information, call 478-2255, or visit

OCT. 10

BreastFest: "The Breast Cancer Index: Your Individual Genetics and the Future of Breast Cancer Treatment." This informational meeting is from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Mimi's Restaurant, 3375 E. Main St., Ventura, and is hosted by the Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer Foundation. The foundation's center is located at 1500 Palma Drive, Suite 239, Ventura. Call 308-3456, go to or

OCT. 14

Fourth Annual Mammograms, Massages & Martinis: It's ladies night from 5 to 8 p.m. at Los Robles Imaging Center in Moorpark, 865 Patriot Drive. Guests will have a low-cost mammogram for $99 (cash price) then relax with a martini and a 10-minute upper-and lower-body massage. Reservations are required. Call 523-8062.

Golf tournament: The Saticoy Regional Women's Golf Club in Ventura will present its fifth annual cancer fundraiser, "Tee Up 4 the Cure," a tournament benefiting Community Memorial Health System's Healthy Women's Program. The entry fee is $60 per person and includes 18 holes of golf and a cart, a continental breakfast and a barbecue lunch from Scooters. The format will be an elimination scramble open to anyone 18 or older. Entry forms are available at the Saticoy Regional Golf Course or contact Tournament Chairwoman Karen Portlock at 223-5756 or Visit the pro shop at 1025 S. Wells Road or visit

OCT. 17

Breast Cancer Seminar: Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center hosts a free seminar from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum, 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley. A panel of physicians will discuss ways to treat breast cancer. RSVP is requested. Call 877-888-5746.

Toast the Ta-Tas: The Ventura County chapter of the American Cancer Society will benefit from the event from 1 to 4 p.m. at Plan B Wine Cellars, 3520 Arundell Circle, Suite 107, in Ventura. Chair massages are $1 per minute; pink manicures, $20; glasses of Grenache rosé, $10; and Toast the Ta-Tas T-shirts for $20 will be available. Call 233-1453 or visit

OCT. 21

Pampered in Pink: Breast cancer survivors and others who would like to remember loved ones who lost the battle are invited to "Pampered in Pink," sponsored by Simi Valley Hospital. Guests will tour the Nancy Reagan Breast Center and Aspen Surgery Center and meet the staff and physicians. Visitors will be treated to mini spa and beauty treatments, plus pink treats to eat and drink and prizes. The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Nancy Reagan Breast Center, 2750 N. Sycamore Drive in Simi Valley. Call 955-7083 or email

OCT. 25

"Imagine A Cure" Fifth Annual Haircut-A-Thon to benefit breast cancer research: Imagine Hair Salon in Simi Valley will donate 100 percent of proceeds from this event to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life for breast cancer research. The event is from noon to 4 p.m. at the salon, 543 Country Club Drive, Suite E, in the Wood Ranch Shopping Center. There will be face painting, a balloonist, a kids zone, raffles for prizes and a boutique street fair. Minimum donations: Wash and cut with no blow-dry, $25; mini-massage, $15; nail polish change (hands only), $10; face painting, $10. Visit, or call 582-9700.

OCT. 31

Fitness event and kids fitness fair: Mavericks Gym in Ventura, 5171 Telegraph Road, hosts fitness events during October where guests and employees can raise money to donate to the Ventura County Medical Center Auxiliary mobile mammography unit and for early detection programs. On Oct. 31, Mavericks hosts a CrossFit challenge, a "Spin-for-Life" event and a children's fitness fair. Call 642-9600 or go to

Ventura activist turns to video, 2 friends, to educate others about breast cancer

Anne Kallas
5:54 PM, Sep 30, 2015

VENTURA, Calif. - Educator and community activist Suz Montgomery, of Ventura, is known for speaking her mind, and she said her most recent bout with breast cancer has only made her more vocal.

"Before, I had few filters. Now I have none at all," said Montgomery, 67.

Known throughout the community as host of Ventura's cable television show "Schmooze with Suz," Montgomery also teaches adult education classes to seniors and works as the Ventura Adult and Continuing Education resource coordinator.

After spending the better part of the past year dealing with a third bout of breast cancer, Montgomery decided to use her experience to educate women about the deadly disease.

So she enlisted the help of two friends who have also dealt with breast cancer — Lisa Barreto, the founder of the local cancer organization Ribbons of Life, and Katy Hadduck, trauma system manager for Ventura County, — to put together a video detailing their experiences with the disease.

Sitting at the set for her cable television show at the Technology Development Center of the Ventura Adult and Continuing Education program, Montgomery recently reflected on the past few months. Her dark hair has grown out into a buzz cut after she shaved it all off during her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but she said she might go back to the bald pate she sported.

"It's a teachable moment," she explained. "It helps make people not be afraid. There were no wigs and no scarves. You wouldn't believe how many people come up to me in the store and say, 'Do you want a hug?' "

Montgomery said that in the video, she, Barreto and Hadduck discuss the prevalence of breast cancer in Ventura County, which has a much higher rate of the disease than the national rates.

"There's a lot of speculation about why," Montgomery said. "I've talked to other survivors, and our opinion is it's because of chemicals in the environment from pesticides and fracking."

All three of the women said they find the current trend of using words associated with warfare troubling in the context of cancer.

"I don't fight cancer," Montgomery said. "My body is going to do what it's going to do, and I'm going to try to survive it. But I don't like to use combative words."

Hadduck agreed that the language can be misleading.

"It makes it seem as though if you are strong enough and positive enough: 'If I go to battle with breast cancer, I can beat it,'" she said. "This is not necessarily the case. Some will be diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and die 50 years later. Some will be diagnosed with stage 1 cancer and die within the year. There is no easy answer on how to beat the disease. People say, 'She lost her battle to breast cancer,' but she didn't lose, she died of a disease."

Hadduck was featured in The Star in 2011 when she asked former reporter Kim Lamb Gregory to accompany her for a biopsy, which turned into a story detailing her journey with breast cancer.

Montgomery said she asked both Hadduck and Barreto to participate in the show about breast cancer because they have taken such a proactive approach to the disease. She credits Barreto's Ribbons of Life for helping her cope with her most recent recurrence; she was first diagnosed at age 23 and again in 1981.

She said the point of the show is to reach out to other women struggling with the disease, and to make those who don't have cancer better understand what women face.

"It's life-changing. But I needed to make peace with what was going to happen," Montgomery said. "We want to tell people that if they see anything suspicious to go get help. It's scary and life-threatening."

Hadduck said she takes issue with the emphasis on pink and ribbons.

"It's not necessarily pink ribbons and tutus," she said, adding that cancer is "a deadly disease, and the treatment is painful and disfiguring."

"Women still die of breast cancer," she noted. "I think too often people think of breast cancer as Oreos with pink filling, and it's marginalizing it.

"I wouldn't offend people for anything in the world," she added. "But the focus in breast cancer should be research and less toward awareness. People are already aware. Let's cure metastatic breast cancer."

Iqbal  Quidwai   


Pemra warns against criticism of Saudi response to Mina tragedy Dawn Oct 1 2015

Pemra issues second such warning with regard to friendly country this year.—Online/filePemra issues second such warning with regard to friendly country this year.—Online/file
ISLAMABAD: The government asked Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Wednesday to take notice of talk shows and broadcasts discussing the Mina tragedy and criticising the Saudi handling of the crisis.
In a statement issued directly to the top management of news channels through an SMS, Pemra said, “Some channels are airing programmes on Mina accident and indirectly [accusing] Saudi Arabia of mismanagement. They need to be reminded that Article 19 of the Constitution restricts comments that may affect relations with friendly countries.”
The electronic media regulator has also asked the owners and top management of media houses to look into the matter seriously.
Over the course of the past week, allegations of mismanagement have been levelled by various news channels against the Saudi government. Certain channels even broadcast “unauthentic videos” culled from social media sites, which purportedly showed the maltreatment of pilgrims’ bodies by Saudi authorities.

Second such warning issued with regard to friendly country this year

However, despite formal warnings or notices issued by Pemra in the past, there was no mention of any potential legal action in case channel operators do not adhere to the informally-issued communique.
Meanwhile, an official of the regulatory body told Dawn on condition of anonymity that the matter was quite serious for the government and if the channels did not honour the special relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, strict action could be taken against them.
The official acknowledged that no such warning had been issued to the electronic media over comments against and criticism of the US and other Pakistani allies.
“There are several reasons, but it is clear that the Americans are not too worried about criticism, whether factual or imagined,” the official added.
Observers say this is the second time in five months that the government has intervened through the electronic media regulator to curb discussion with regards to Saudi Arabia.
In the first week of May, Pemra had officially directed all news channels not to air programmes that might harm Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries.
The Pemra advisory was issued following manic debates on the media in the wake of Pakistan’s refusal to send ground forces to Yemen as part of a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi uprising there.
TV shows discussed the Yemen crisis from various angles, ranging from regional-tribal rivalries to international terrorism and the sectarian aspect of the conflict.
The Pemra notice issued at the time began by praising the Pakistani media, saying, “The electronic media’s contribution towards image building of nations is significant and the authority can very proudly say that our TV channels are playing a positive role while upholding the dignity, sovereignty of the nation and other brotherly countries.”
However, it continued, “Except the recent trends going on TV channels where they are trying to create a negative perception of brotherly countries among the masses,” without naming Saudi Arabia.
The notice issued by Pemra in May had mentioned Section 20(c) of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 (as amended by PEMRA Amendment Act 2007 read with clause (l)(o) of the Code of Conduct for Media Broadcasters provided in Schedule-A of Pemra Rules 2009.
This clause says, “No programme or advertisement is to be aired which may be detrimental to Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries.”
Published in Dawn October 1st, 2015

September 24, 2015 RSS feed / Letters Give others a chance on COSCA board to acorn

September 24, 2015 RSS feed / Letters

Give others a chance on board

Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency is a joint powers entity supported equally by the City of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Recreation and Park District

Give others a chance on board

Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency is a joint powers entity supported equally by the City of Thousand Oaksand the Conejo Recreation and Park District.
COSCA is charged with managing and protecting approximately 15,000 acres of open space and 150 miles of trails. COSCA governance is headed by its board of directors.
Where's the story?PointsMentioned Map1 Points Mentioned
On Sept. 9, the COSCA board met to select the “citizen member” representative to its fivemember board of directors.
There were six members on the interview panel but only the three council members can vote.
Seven candidates applied for the citizen representative position, including the incumbent who has been on the board for nearly 30 years.
The board chose to reappoint the incumbent, stating that she was the best qualified.
This writer was one of the seven qualified candidates, every one of whom was entitled to a fair process, but what is fair?
Fairness includes a combination of outstanding open space qualifications and the right to speak for the average citizen.
Yes, experience counts, but what about giving new people a chance to get board experience?
The interview panel weighed in heavily on past experience and not on equal opportunity.
Reappointing the same person to a board position for which there has been no recruitment for decades is inherently unfair. Initiating recruitment when the incumbent is a lock disrespects the candidates and has no meaning.
With board terms now set at four years, the citizens of Thousand Oaks will need to wait until the fall of 2019 before getting their next chance to apply and go through the selection process.
Yes, in four years the candidates will get another chance to kick open a door that has been closed for 30 years.
Steve Forman
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