Check out this girl crushing it on a skateboard in front of the Bamiyan Buddha craters

In 2001, the Taliban shocked and angered the world by destroying the Buddhas of Bamiyan,  800 year-old statues that the hardline group declared declare "un-Islamic" due to their depiction of the human form.

A decade later, here's a woman identified on the group's Facebook page as Erika killing it in front of the craters that were left behind. Erika is a volunteer for the group Skateistan, an international non-profit attempting to "use skateboarding as a tool for empowerment" and developers of Afghanistan's first skateboarding school. The school welcomes both girls and boys to participate, even going so far as to open a private girls' skating rink so that older students could continue to practice without men present. 

A spate of increased violence, and in particular the increase of Afghans dressed as security attacking U.S. forces, have frayed nerves throughout the country and brought renewed attention to the role of the U.S. mission. However, while it may be just one girl on a skateboard, the photo, besides being awesome, is a reminder that not all the news coming out of Afghanistan today is bad.



Chinese media asks, why are Tibetans so happy?

Everything's coming up roses in the Tibetan capital, according to the government-run China Daily, which has the largest circulation of any English-language newspaper in China:

"Lhasa, the city of sunlight, topped an annual survey of residents' sense of happiness in Chinese cities. The capital of the Tibet autonomous region has ranked at the top of the survey conducted by China Central Television for five consecutive years."

There have been at least 50 self-immolations in Tibet and Tibetan areas of China since March 2009 and massive riots shook Lhasa in 2008. Many Tibetans resent the arrival of Han Chinese into the region as well as restrictive policies that prohibit freedom of religion, freedom of assemgly, or even mentioning the Dalai Lama. Western journalists have been denied access to Lhasa for months, if not years; in all likelihood the current situation in Lhasa is pretty grim.

The survey doesn't mention any of these things. The article states that of the 100,000 households polled from 104 cities "the results showed income level most affected people's sense of well-being (55.5 percent), followed by health (48.9 percent) and quality of marriage or love life (32 percent)." The article doesn't specifically explain why residents of Lhasa are so happy.

In other Lhasa happiness news, on Aug. 19th the city  hosted the "2012 Happy City Mayor Forum" where mayors and experts from more than 20 cities and came up with a "Happiness Action Promise" to make residents more joyful.

Good times!