Monday, May 10, 2010

Warren Buffett's son preaches values as wealth

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett has an old-world spiritual message for today's money-rich parents: teach your children values and do not give them everything they want.

Musician and now author Peter Buffett preaches the message in his new book "Life is What You Make it: Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment". Recently released in the United States, it describes how he wound up a "normal, happy" person instead of a spoiled child to one of the world's richest people.

Buffett, 52, teaches the rewards of self-respect and pursuing one's own passions and accomplishments rather than buying into society's concepts of material wealth.

"I am my own person and I know what I have accomplished in my life," he said. "This isn't about wealth or fame or money or any of that stuff, it is actually about values and what you enjoy and finding something you love doing."

People who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth can fall victim to what Buffett said his father has called a "silver dagger in your back," which leads to a sense of entitlement and a lack of personal achievement.

"Entitlement is the worst thing ever and I see entitlement coming in many guises," he said. "Anybody who acts like they deserve something 'just because,', is a disaster."

But Buffett wasn't always this wise. His own family gave him $90,000 in stock when he was 19, a small sum from such immense financial wealth. After studying at Stanford University, he moved to San Francisco and lived in a studio apartment with just enough room for his musical instruments.

"I was really searching," he said, adding that he began his musical career by working for free writing music for a local television station.

"I was kind of lost, but trying to find myself. It was definitely this strange period where I didn't really know where I was going," he said.


As well his musical passions, the values taught to him growing up and a sense of a bigger picture in life stayed with him during those trying times, he said.

"I was not only not handed everything as a kid, I was shown that there are lots of other people out there with very different circumstances," he said.

Although many people he encounters assume that his father wanted him to go into finance, he said his father accepted his choice to become a musician beginning with commercials then his own albums and composing for television shows and films.

"It was encouraged for a moment when I was open to the idea," he said about pursuing finance. But he added that as he grew older, it became clear the financial world "was not speaking to my heart."

Along with the book, Buffett has embarked on a "Concert & Conversation" tour in which he plays the piano, talks about his life and warns against consumerist culture and damaging the environment.

He said he eventually inherited more money after his mother died in 2004, but by then he had learned his lessons. Now he works on giving back to the world -- another of his life philosophies -- which includes through working for his father's NoVo charitable foundation.

"Economic prosperity may come and go; that's just how it is," he writes in the book. "But values are the steady currency that earn us the all-important rewards."

Ash cloud to remain on the horizon

Ash cloud disruption to flights could last all summer as there are no signs that the eruption from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland is about to end.But just where the ash plumes will drift and on which days is anybody's guess.
This means that no one can really advise would-be holidaymakers if it is a good idea or not to take a trip involving air travel this summer.Those who have booked flights will do well to wish for southerly or south-westerly winds.
The south-western is the prevailing wind affecting the British Isles and if this blows, as it normally does for much of the summer, then any ash clouds from Iceland will drift north towards the North Pole.
What has been happening lately - and this is what has been keeping the weather so unseasonably cold - is that north-westerly winds have been blowing.
This has caused the major disruption that affected UK and Ireland airports last month and the recent delays and cancellations of the last few days.
A Met Office spokeswoman said today: "We're all at the mercy of the volcano and there is just no way of knowing how long it will continue to erupt.
"We would normally be getting south-westerly winds at this time of year and it's pretty unusual to have northerly winds dominating the weather.
"It's very much a day-to-day situation at the moment. The volcano died down a bit for a spell and has now got more active."
Amid the imponderables, what is certain is that concerted efforts by airlines, engine manufacturers, aviation authorities and weather forecasters have led to a new understanding of how much of a threat to plane safety volcanic ash represents.
New guidelines have been drawn up that should mean that, even if the "wrong" winds blow ash plumes right over the UK, there will be no repeat of the complete shutdown of UK airspace that occurred last month.
A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said: "We are now in a much better position to cope with the ash-cloud problem.
"We know now that aircraft engines can cope with certain concentrations of ash. This means we can better assess which areas of airspace have to be closed."
These kinds of assessment may have to be made for quite a while to come. The last time that Eyjafjallajokull went active - in the 1820s - eruptions continued on and off for more than a year.

Gordon Brown to resign as Prime Minister

Gordon Brown has announced he will resign as Prime Minister in the autumn even if Labour and the Liberal Democrats form a coalition government.

'Hangover' Molecule in Brain Found

NEW YORK : Scientists have discovered the molecule in the brain that leads to hangovers. The neuropeptide, a brain-signalling molecule, is believed to cause the body to experience withdrawal symptoms as the brain tries to adapt to different intoxication levels.The neuroscientists from the University of Southampton's School of Biological Sciences studied the simple brains of C. elegans worms, which have a makeup similar enough to the human brain when intoxicated or dependent on alcohol.
What they found was striking.
Basically, when a worm brain (similarly, a human brain) is exposed to drinking over a long period of time, it becomes accustomed to certain intoxication levels.The brain experiences a series of withdrawal symptoms when the drinking stops.Typically, these hangover symptoms can include anxiety and agitation, even seizures."This research showed the worms displaying effects of the withdrawal of alcohol and enables us to define how alcohol affects signalling in nerve circuits which leads to changes in behavior," said professor Lindy Holden-Dye, a neuroscientist of the University's School of Biological Sciences and member of Southampton Neurosciences Group (SoNG), who led the study.When the worms were given small doses of alcohol during their withdrawal their irritable behaviors eased. Unfortunately, this approach to combating a hangover also increases the chances for alcohol dependency.
Alcohol dependency and abuse are among the most common mental disorders. This study, published in PLoS One journal, showed hope for an average 13 percent of the adult population that suffers from these disorders.This study identifies where and also how alcohol consumption affect the nervous system and the brain in a way that hasn't been revealed until now."This is leading to new ideas for the treatment of alcoholism," Holden-Dye said. "Our study provides a very effective experimental system to tackle this problem."

Obama picks Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

President Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court on Monday, picking her to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

If confirmed, Kagan would be the third woman on the nine-justice bench and the fourth in the history of the high court. Her confirmation also would mean that the Supreme Court would have no Protestant justices for the first time in its history. Kagan, who is Jewish, would join six Catholic and two Jewish justices.

Kagan is a "trailblazing leader" who is "open to a broad array of viewpoints" and is a proven "consensus builder," Obama said at the White House.

Kagan, 50, received her law degree from Harvard University, where she later served as dean of the law school. She previously served in the Clinton administration as associate White House counsel.

If confirmed, Kagan will become the 112th Supreme Court justice.

Obama decided on Kagan as his nominee on Sunday and called her around 8 p.m., a source close to the process said.

He did not have to look far when considering Kagan. As solicitor general, she is the administration's top lawyer before the Supreme Court and has argued several high-profile cases before the justices since taking the job in spring 2009.

"You have to admit, Elena Kagan is a brilliant woman," Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said during a radio interview a year ago when Kagan was being vetted for a high court seat. "She is a brilliant lawyer. If [Obama] picks her, it is a real dilemma for people," especially conservatives.

"And she will undoubtedly say that she will abide by the rule of law."
Her confirmation hearings for the solicitor general job could offer a preview of what she can expect from both Democrats and Republicans. Many saw it as a dress rehearsal of sorts for a high court job.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham told Kagan she presented a "positive impression." Democrats were similarly enthused.

With that endorsement, she won confirmation for her current job by a 61-31 vote.

A number of conservative groups were less enamored.

"Among Supreme Court nominees over the last 50 years or more, Kagan may well be the nominee with the least amount of relevant experience," said Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, former law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, and former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kagan had never argued a case before the Supreme Court or any appeals court before she became solicitor general about a year ago.

"Solicitor General Kagan has been nominated with no judicial experience, a mere two years of private law practice, and only a year as solicitor general of the United States," said David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society -- a conservative and libertarian legal group -- and former congressman from Indiana. "She is one of the most inexperienced nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court in recent memory."

Kagan's position on gays in the military is virtually certain to generate controversy during her confirmation hearings. She has been strongly criticized by conservatives for her efforts to block military recruiters from Harvard because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The policy, first enacted during the Clinton administration but opposed by Obama, prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the armed forces.

While serving as dean at Harvard Law, Kagan said she "abhorred" the military's "discriminatory recruitment policy." She called it "a profound wrong -- a moral injustice of the first order."

Kagan supported other schools challenging a federal law requiring them to give recruiters equal access or face the loss of federal funding. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law in 2006.

Some liberal organizations, on the other hand, have expressed concern over Kagan's views on executive power. As chief defender of the administration's anti-terrorism strategy, Kagan has articulated a more robust defense of the White House than many civil rights and human rights groups would like.

Observers on both sides of the political aisle have noted that Kagan has a relatively short paper trail compared to other recent Supreme Court nominees.

Kagan grew up in a Jewish household on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She went to Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She served as a law clerk for federal judge Abner Mikva and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the high court.

In her 1986 job application to Marshall, she matter-of-factly told the civil rights pioneer, "I would be honored to serve as your clerk." The nation's first African-American justice affectionately called the diminutive Kagan "Shorty."

Kagan later went into teaching, starting at the University of Chicago, where one of the part-time faculty was Obama. Also teaching at the time was Diane Wood, who later became a federal judge and also was a finalist for the current high court vacancy. Kagan and Wood were among the few women on the full-time faculty at that time.

President Clinton later named Kagan associate White House counsel and then appointed her to the influential Domestic Policy Council, where she earned a reputation for articulate and well-reasoned statements on tricky political issues. She was the administration's point person on passing anti-tobacco legislation, negotiating in 1998 with Republican Sen. John McCain to give the federal government the authority to control cigarettes, as it does pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Clinton picked her in 1999 for the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But no Senate confirmation hearings were held, and the nomination lapsed. The seat was later filled by John Roberts, who quickly used the appointment as a springboard to chief justice.

Named Harvard's dean in 2003, Kagan earned a reputation for soothing longstanding tensions over a perceived liberal tilt to the faculty and curriculum.

She began pushing for the appointment of conservative professors, including Jack Goldsmith, who had been a lawyer in President George W. Bush's Justice Department. Such hires eased ideological unrest on the Harvard campus.

Rising attacks hamper anti-drugs drive - Afghan official

Drug mafias and suspected Taliban militants have increased attacks against officials trying to destroy poppy fields in Afghanistan, but the 2010 harvest may still fall from the previous year, a government official said.Zalmai Afzali, spokesman for the counter-narcotics ministry, said the provinces where the anti-poppy drive faced disruption mostly included southern and southwestern Afghanistan, where the Taliban are strongest.
The government has been conducting raids against poppy fields in ten provinces, but had to halt the drive in five provinces, largely due to increase in attacks, the official said.
"There were security challenges and attacks and police had to stop the operations," Afzali told a news conference.
The United Nations says Afghanistan remains the world's key source of poppy and in 2008 produced 90 percent of the plant, which is used in making heroin and which officials say is helping the Taliban to fund their war against foreign and Afghan forces.
Afghanistan itself had 1.5 million drug addicts.
He said police destroyed more than 2,500 hectares of poppy cultivation which would lead to a reduction in production this year.Afzali praised the United States for its aid in tackling the drugs problem, but he criticised Europe, despite being a key market for the Afghan heroin trade, for not giving enough help.He also criticised the governor for southern Kandahar province for failing to help against poppy cultivation.He said the NATO-led force did not destroy poppy fields in Marjah of district of adjacent Helmand after forces seized much of the area from the Taliban in a major offensive in February.More than 140,000 foreign troops are trying to defeat the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan to come under U.S. pressure on militant hub
Pakistan will come under greater U.S. pressure to attack a militant stronghold in the northwest, an official said, but with the army battling in several areas and resources stretched, Pakistan's own interests must come first.

The United States is convinced that Pakistani Taliban militants allied with al Qaeda were behind the attempted bombing in New York's Times Square on May 1, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

Ally Pakistan is cooperating with U.S. investigators trying to determine the nature of the militant links of the suspected bomber, a Pakistan-born naturalised American who is under arrest in the United States.

But U.S. pressure for Pakistani action against the main militant hub left on its lawless Afghan border is bound to mount.

"The pressure from the United States to start operations in North Waziristan has been there, and after the Times Square incident, the pressure will grow," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official who declined to be identified.

The New York bomb plot suspect, Faisal Shahzad, 30, was arrested on Monday last week, two days after authorities say he parked a crude car bomb in Times Square. Authorities say he has been cooperating in the investigation.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other U.S. officials said on Sunday the Pakistani Taliban were involved.

Holder said the U.S. government was satisfied with Pakistani cooperation in the investigation, adding there was nothing to suggest the Pakistani government was aware of the plot.

The al Qaeda-linked Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) is an alliance of factions that has killed many hundreds of people in numerous bomb attacks against the state.

Over the past year, the armed forces have mounted offensives against their strongholds in the northwest, largely clearing several areas including their bastion of South Waziristan.


But North Waziristan has not been tackled, even though TTP members are believed to have taken refuge with allied Afghan factions based there that are not fighting the Pakistani state.

The army says it must secure the areas it has cleared before attacking there. But analysts say Pakistan sees the Afghan factions in North Waziristan as tools for its long-term objectives in Afghanistan, where Pakistan wants to see a friendly government and the sway of old rival India minimised.

"Basically, what the U.S. wishes is that we go into North Waziristan, and primarily that means targeting the Haqqani and Gul Bahadur networks," the Pakistani intelligence official said, referring to the two main Afghan Taliban factions there.

"But we have our own limitations. We are there in South Waziristan and yes, some of the militants are fleeing to Orakzai and some to North Waziristan, and we are following them. At the same time, our capacity is limited and we cannot open all fronts together. That will be against our national interest."

"We are not saying that we won't target the militants there, but we have to do that within our capacity and resources. The U.S. will keep putting pressure and we will try and take that pressure and act as best as we can while preserving our interests."

U.S. officials have in recent days been praising Pakistani efforts against militants, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows over the weekend when she told the CBS network Pakistan would face "severe consequences" if a successful attack in America was traced to Pakistan.

Retired Pakistani intelligence officer Asad Munir said U.S. blame would be counter-productive.

"If they blame Pakistan, I don't think they'll win this war," he said. "They (Pakistani forces) will go to North Waziristan but it will take time. If Pakistan is pressured, it will be disastrous."

"The 'do more' mantra will lead to thinking in the military that this is happening despite their people being killed every day and ultimately foot soldiers will be demoralised," he said.

Pashto poet,Ex-bureaucrat Sahir Afridi living in misery

PESHAWAR: A former assistant commissioner and popular Pashto poet Zeenat Shah Sahir has been living in misery after retirement from service in 2003, especially after a paralysis attack.
Born on April 15, 1942 at Saidan Garhi, Jamrud subdivision of Khyber Agency, he received his early education from village school and later did his masters in English, Urdu and Pashto literature. He joined the civil service as section officer in 1973 in the Board of Revenue and got promoted to extra assistant commissioner (EAC), Peshawar and served in the same capacity in several districts of the erstwhile NWFP in difficult situations.
Sahir Afridi’s notable achievement was elimination of poppy cultivation from Gadoon Amazai area after successful negotiations with the elders. He retired as assistant commissioner (AC), Nowshera in 2003.
Having a sensitive soul, Zeenat Shah alias Sahir Afridi used to compose poetry since his childhood. The company of literary giants like Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari, Qalandar Momand, Prof Dr Muhammad Azam Azam and many others enabled him to improve his skills as a poet. He was strong opponent of the Malik system in the tribal areas and once in 1967 Sarfraz Khan, the former political agent of Khyber Agency, forced him to stay in Dera Ismail Khan rather than in his native Jamrud for composing a poem against the British-era privilege-based system in Fata.
On late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s visit to Dera Ismail Khan, Sahir Afridi as a civil servant recited a welcome poem appreciating policies of Bhutto for the downtrodden and poor people. This upset his superiors who transferred him to Peshawar as punishment. His poetry often annoyed his seniors and high-ranking officials but being an outspoken officer he did not care much about them as he felt he ought to speak the language of the masses.Sahir Afridi attained fame when prominent singers Khayal Muhammad, Kishwar Sultan, Mehjabeen Qazalbash, Hidayatullah and others sang his poetry.
He also wrote numerous plays for Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), Peshawar and PTV, Peshawar centre on social themes. In the early 80s he gave shelter to popular Pashto singer Shah Wali Afghan, now based in Canada, who had migrated from Afghanistan and was being hunted by militants. It was his contribution to Pashto music. Two poetry collections of Sahir Afridi namely ‘Painzaib’ and ‘Karkhey’ have been published while his short stories collection ‘Saanga’ and a novel ‘Yuwazey Yuwazey’ are unpublished.

Sahir Afridi has fallen on bad times. He has no bank balance and no plot of land even after serving as a civil servant. His meagre pension is not enough to look after the needs of his seven-member family.

A paralysis attack on June 15, 2006 rendered him bedridden. His fans told this scribe that no government official or known literati had enquired after his health. He is the registered member of Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) insurance policy but has not been extended any financial help for his medical treatment. His friends and fans have appealed to the PAL chairman, the president and prime minister, chief minister and governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to extend help to Sahir Afridi keeping in view his social and literary contribution.

Pashto film director calls for govt patronage

PESHAWAR: Noted film director Mumtaz Ali Khan has called for sincere government initiatives to revive the film industry.

Incentives and patronage from the government can help the film industry stand on its own feet and revive the cinema-going culture when cinema halls would be jampacked, he told The News.

He said the industry could be steered of crises by tax waivers and concession in duty on raw materials used in film production. “Normally, a Pashto film can be produced for Rs5 to 5.5 million, including up to Rs1.5 million of raw material expenses, while best Urdu movie costs Rs10 to 15 million,” he explained.

Seeing a bright future for Pashto films, he said there was a time when half of the audience at cinema halls would be female as films produced in the decades of 70s and 80s had no vulgar scenes and dialogues and could be watched with family members.

Mumtaz Ali said film was the best medium to mould opinion. “I have an idea of producing movie on the situation in the Pashtun belt if the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government provides me assistance. The film would have a message and guidance for the younger generation,” said the elderly man, who has directed about 45 Pashto, Urdu and Punjabi movies.

Nowadays he is working on a documentary on Pakhtuns to be completed in two months. Born in Pabbi town of Nowshera district in December 1949, Mumtaz Ali ventured into the film industry when he was 20 years old. He said: “After passing my SSC examination in 1969, I got admission in Edwardes College Peshawar, but after four or five months I gave up studies and went to Lahore for making debut in films. Samad Hosh (late) introduced me to comedy king Rangeela who accommodated me as an assistant in Urdu films Diya Aur Toofan, Dil Aur Dunya and Rangeela. Later, I directed Pashto super hit, Darra Khyber. Orbal, Khana Badosh, Deedan, Jawargar and Naway Da Yaway Shpe were the hit movies that I produced.”

He was the first director in the subcontinent who produced one film in two languages known as Naway da Yaway Shpe and Dulhan Ek Raat Ki and both were hits. His first Punjabi film, Raakha, was also a hit.

Mumtaz Ali, starting film direction at very young age, not only earned appreciation from the industry but won award for his Urdu film, Daakoo Ki Larki. He introduced new talent including Ajab Gul, Jamil Babar, Ismail Shah, Humayun Qureshi, Mussarat Shaheen and Lubna Khattak, who later became stars.

He felt vulgar scenes and the death or exit of senior directors as major reasons for decline of the film industry, especially Pashto. He said producers and artistes like Sanobar Khan, Sher Afgan, Rafiq Shinwari, Amir Ghulam Sadiq, Aziz Tabassum, Gulnar Begum, Kishwar Sultan, etc, left the field open for fortune-makers and thus the decline in film industry started.

“Though vulgarity has been reduced to a great extent, producers, directors and artistes now produce CD films that could be made in Rs500,000 and return on it is also immediate. A CD film is produced in 10 shifts of 7 to 8 hours and is released in a week while its cost is low,” he explained. He also held cinema owners and the government responsible for the slump in the industry.

Female pilot helps Afghan air force take off

Decades ago, Afghanistan's air force was in full operation. Today, that air force is being rebuilt, with some of the same helicopters and some of the same pilots as well - including the first woman in the Afghan Air Corps and currently the only one.The only time Capt. Latifa Nabizada left the force was to flee to Pakistan when the Taliban took over in the 1990s - a woman pilot was a prime target for them."I wanted to be a pilot since I was a child," she says. "I also, as a woman, felt it was a responsibility to serve my country. So I joined 20 years ago. ... I stayed in because it's the love of my life, and I still feel the responsibility to not give it up."Today, she is one of about 50 pilots training in Kabul, with a few others elsewhere in Afghanistan. And U.S. forces are helping mentor the pilots, training them on modern air force techniques for the 50 or so aircraft in the Afghan air force fleet.Nabizada revels in the new training: "I've seen remarkable changes since we started this. We get training in air traffic control, pre-flight checklists, English language, instruments, navigation. These are skills we didn't have before."
On the training base in Kabul, a regular sight is Nabizada's 4-year-old daughter Malali. "Being a pilot and a mother is hard, actually," Nabizada says. "My husband is a doctor in the air force and we have no one to take care of her, so she comes with me every day. One day I'd like to see childcare in the air force."Until then, Malali learns first hand about her country's air force and her mother's groundbreaking role. Will she follow in her mother's footsteps in the future? "Exactly," says Nabizada. "She will be a pilot in the future."

Kagan to be Supreme Court nominee, source says

President Obama is on Monday expected to name Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, two sources close to the process said.The announcement at the White House is expected around mid-morningKagan, 50, a New York native, was widely reported to be the front-runner for the nomination. She was a finalist for the high court vacancy last year when Justice Sonia Sotomayor was selected to replace the retiring David Souter.If confirmed, Kagan would be the third woman on the nine-justice bench and the fourth in the history of the court.Kagan received her law degree from Harvard University, where she later served as dean of the law school. She previously served in the Clinton administration as associate White House counsel.

Afghanistan's last Jew vows to stay put

Zablon Simintov is always guaranteed the best seat in his local synagogue here, but the privilege comes with a downside: he's the last Jew in Afghanistan.
The country's 800-year-old Jewish community -- an estimated 40,000 strong at its peak -- is now a party of one.But Simintov, for his part, isn't going anywhere soon. For more than a decade, he has refused to join his wife and two teenage daughters in Israel.
"My family call me all the time and say, 'Come here, you're the last Jew in Afghanistan, what are you doing there?' " he says.
Simintov, a former carpet dealer, refuses to answer that question. "I don't know why I'm still living here," he says. "It's God's will."
He hasn't seen his daughters -- now ages 14 and 16 -- since his one trip to Israel 12 years ago.But the bald and bespectacled Simintov says he is content guarding a cupboard full of dusty prayer books -- one is 400 years old, he says -- spending holidays with visitors from Europe and the U.S. and surviving off donations from Jews around the world.Historical evidence suggests a sizable Jewish community in Afghanistan since the Middle Ages, according to the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, a nonprofit group.Afghanistan's Jewish population reached 40,000 in the mid-19th century, the group says, and began declining around 1870 with the passage of anti-Jewish measures.
Israel's creation in 1948 drew most of Afghanistan's remaining Jews.
Simintov's synagogue -- the last in Afghanistan's capital -- sits inconspicuously in a courtyard behind busy city streets, though a close inspection reveals Stars of David in second-story metal railings. The interior is adorned only by broken light fixtures and ceiling fans.
But Simintov says he is hardly in hiding. "They're all like my brothers here," he said of his fellow Afghans. "It doesn't make a difference whether I'm here or in Israel."That wasn't the case under Taliban rule, which ended with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, though Taliban forces have been resurgent in parts of the country.Simintov says he was arrested four times under Taliban rule and that he was beaten while in custody."The Taliban was a problem," he says. "They interfered in everyone's business, but now they're gone, they're finished."
Which means that Simintov is more inclined than ever to stay put.