Monday, July 31, 2017

Senator McCain says he will offer Afghanistan strategy in September

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator John McCain said on Monday he would offer a plan for a U.S. strategy in the war in Afghanistan as an amendment to a defense authorization bill in September.

"Eight years of a 'don't lose' strategy has cost us lives and treasure in Afghanistan," McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

"When the Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act in September, I will offer an amendment based on the advice of some our best military leaders that will provide a strategy for success in achieving America's national interests in Afghanistan.” - Reuters

Senator McCain says he will offer Afghanistan strategy in September

MP Parveen Nuristani Dies In Car Crash

A member of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Afghan Parliament) Parveen Nuristani has died of a traffic accident on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway, a source close to the victim said on Monday.

Parveen Nooristani, the daughter of Abdul Qader, was born in 1976 in Kabul; she was married and was living in Kabul city.

She was a medical doctor by profession - More

MP Parveen Nuristani Dies In Car Crash | TOLOnews

پروین نورستانی یک عضو ولسی جرگه در حادثه ترافیکی جان داد da.azadiradio

داکتر پروین نورستانی نماینده مردم نورستان در ولسی جرگه افغانستان لحظات قبل در یک حادثه ترافیکی در شاهراه جلال آباد-کابل جان داد.

سخنگوی والی ننگرهار این رویداد را تائید کرده‌است. - Read More

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Editorial: The war in Afghanistan needs a change in tactics. Privatizing the military isn't the answer

President Trump is frustrated about the lack of progress in Afghanistan and seems to be skeptical about his military advisors’ proposal for the deployment of up to another 4,000 U.S. trainers, advisors and counter-terrorism forces to join the 8,500 now stationed there.

“We’ve been there for now close to 17 years, and I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years, how it’s going, and what we should do in terms of additional ideas,” he told reporters recently.

We understand the president’s exasperation. Despite the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars and the loss of 2,400 American lives, the political and security situation in that country remains precarious, civilian casualties are increasing and corruption remains rife. In recent months the Taliban has gained ground.

So Trump is right to insist on a searching review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, one that considers diplomatic as well as military options. But he should say no to one proposal being floated, reportedly with the encouragement of some of his advisors: the replacement of U.S. forces by private security contractors.

A president with a business background might be easily beguiled by the idea of contracting out a war. But it is a terrible idea.

According to the New York Times, White House advisors Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, asked two businessmen who profited from military contracting to come up with alternatives to sending additional troops to Afghanistan. The newspaper said that Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen A. Feinberg, the owner of the military contractor DynCorp International, recommended that the government rely on private contractors instead of U.S. troops.

That’s an awful proposal. Can Bannon and Kushner have already forgotten the history of Blackwater? The company became notorious after a group of its employees were convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007 in Baghdad.

Undaunted, Prince (who is the brother of Trump’s Education secretary, Betsy DeVos) has now written a column in the Wall Street Journal offering several ideas for changes in U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Some of them, such as the consolidation of all authority in one official, might be worth consideration, although it is disturbing that Prince sees such a person as a “viceroy” in the mold of Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the occupation of Japan after World War II. Even more disturbingly, Prince also suggested that the U.S. rely on “private military units” modeled after the armies used by the East India Company — the for-profit enterprise that with its own private army effectively ruled India during British colonial era. These units, he explained, “were locally recruited and trained, supported and led by contracted European professional soldiers.”

If Prince is suggesting that duties now performed by U.S. military officers should be entrusted to contractors — mercenaries, in effect — it’s a horrible idea. Although private contractors have played a role in every war, military functions — even if they don’t technically qualify as combat duty — should be handled by military personnel who are accountable in the chain of command.

Apparently Secretary of Defense James Mattis agrees. According to the New York Times, Mattis refused to include the private-contractor idea in the Afghanistan policy review he is leading along with National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the idea won’t come to Trump’s attention via Bannon, Kushner or other close advisors. A president with a business background might be easily beguiled by the idea of contracting out a war. But it is a terrible idea.

What ideas should the president consider?

And the administration’s review should extend beyond military strategy. Diplomacy also must be part of the equation. That includes efforts to pressure Pakistan to do more to combat terrorist groups that use its territory to launch attacks on U.S. and allied troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. It also means being open to the possibility of negotiations between the government of Afghanistan and elements of the Taliban that would be willing to accept a constitution that secured basic rights. Indeed, one argument for military intervention in Afghanistan always has been that it places pressure on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

These are the issues Trump needs to consider in taking a new look at our involvement in Afghanistan. But he should forget about private armies. - Read More, latimes

The war in Afghanistan needs a change in tactics. Privatizing the military isn't the answer

Trump threatens to end insurance payments if no healthcare bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Saturday to end government payments to health insurers if Congress does not pass a new healthcare bill and goaded them to not abandon their seven-year quest to replace the Obamacare law.

In a Twitter message on Saturday, Trump said "if a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!"

The tweet came a day after Senate Republicans failed to muster enough votes to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare bill commonly known as Obamacare.

The first part of Trump's tweet appeared to be referring to the approximately $8 billion in cost-sharing reduction subsidies the federal government pays to insurers to lower the price of health coverage for low-income Americans.

The second part appeared to be a threat to end the employer contribution for Congress members and their staffs, who were moved from the normal federal employee healthcare benefits program onto the Obamacare insurance exchanges as part of the 2010 healthcare law.

Trump has previously threatened to suspend the payments to insurers, which are determined by the Department of Health and Human Services. In April, he threatened to end the payments if Democrats refused to negotiate over the healthcare bill.

Responding to Saturday's tweet, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that if the president carried out that threat, "every expert agrees that (insurance) premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans."

"The president ought to stop playing politics with people's lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump later urged Senate Republicans to try again on a healthcare vote. The Senate is in session for another week before it is scheduled to begin an August recess. - Reuters

Trump threatens to end insurance payments if no healthcare bill

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns after Supreme Court orders his dismissal in corruption case - latimes

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned Friday after the country's Supreme Court disqualified him from office due to corruption charges he and his family have been battling.

"Following the verdict, Nawaz Sharif has resigned from his responsibilities as prime minister," a spokesman for Sharif's office said in a statement.

The unanimous, five-judge ruling — delivered to a packed courtroom in the nation’s capital — came after an investigation into the family’s finances following the Panama Papers leak in 2015. The leak linked Sharif’s children to offshore companies they had not revealed in financial disclosures.

After the ensuing investigations, Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said Sharif was no longer "eligible to be an honest member of the parliament.” The court had already recommended anti-corruption cases against Sharif, his daughter and political prodigy Maryam Nawaz, her husband Safdar, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and others.

The country’s election commission also disqualified Sharif from serving in parliament.

Sharif and his family have denied wrongdoing in the cases.

Maryam Nawaz tweeted after the verdict that her father was sent home, “but only to see him return with greater force.” She asked her party to “stay strong.”

Sharif is not the first prime minister to leave office due to documents leaked in the Panama Papers — leaked internal files from a Panamanian law firm that indicated means by which wealthy and powerful people hid their money. - Read More

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns after Supreme Court orders his dismissal in corruption case

A tense peace reigns at Jerusalem holy site claimed by Muslims and Jews

The White House has no idea how to proceed in Afghanistan - ThinkProgress

While Afghans suffer horrific casualties, President Trump can’t seem to decide between a modest troop surge or sending in more private contractors.

Snippets of news coming out of the White House in recent weeks indicate that the Trump administration is at an impasse in choosing a strategy for Afghanistan.

Indecision in battle is never good, and Afghanistan is being pummeled: The number of civilian deaths continues to rise, attacks in the capital, Kabul, are growing increasingly deadly, and the Taliban now holds more territory than any time since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Most of these daily battles don’t even make it into the U.S. news cycle, but to read Afghan news sources, such as TOLOnews, is to witness a bloody tick-tock of districts and provinces lost and reclaimed in an almost endless cycle of battles between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. On top of that, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) has established a presence in Afghanistan.

Much — if not all of this — has been attributed to the U.S. troop draw-down under former President Barack Obama, leaving security gaps and vulnerabilities in a country rife with armed players.

So, what’s the plan? - Read More

He lost his wife, six children, his peace of mind - and his British asylum claim - The Guardian

Lately, Said Norzai hasn’t felt much like going to the mosque. He hasn’t lost faith. He’s just tired of the questions, and one in particular: how is the asylum claim going?

“I don’t like to go when I don’t have any good news,” he says. “The first question after ‘Hello, how are you?’ is ‘What’s happening with your case?’ It’s out of kindness but I don’t want to be reminded of it.”

In truth, it’s not going so well. Norzai and his 10-year-old son, Wali Khan, arrived in the UK last winter, having fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and then lost Said’s wife and six other children on the perilous journey west.

A catalogue of errors – many of them down to intricacies of the asylum system that are utterly baffling to new arrivals – has thrown the Norzais’ future in the UK into jeopardy, even though Norzai is clearly traumatised by his losses, even though Wali Khan is clearly flourishing in school.

First there was the solicitor – or the lack of one. - Read More

He lost his wife, six children, his peace of mind - and his British asylu

Congress Emerges From Another Health Care Failure Without A Clear Path Forward

Speaking to a audience of law enforcement officers on Long Island, N.Y., President Trump said, "They should have approved health care last night, but you can't have everything, boy oh boy." He added, "They've been working on that for seven years, can you believe that? The Swamp. But we'll get it done, we're going to get it done." Trump also stated that he "said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode and then do it. I turned out to be right, let Obamacare implode."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, though clearly pleased with the outcome of the vote early Friday morning, insisted it was "not a time for celebration, it's a time for relief." He praised Republican Sen. John McCain as a hero for his vote against the Senate GOP repeal plan, calling it it an "amazing moment" — one he hopes will be "a turning point where the Senate turned back from it's partisanship and started to work together."

In his own statement, McCain said the failure of the GOP plan "presents the Senate with an opportunity to start fresh. It is now time to return to regular order with input from all of our members — Republicans and Democrats — and bring a bill to the floor of the Senate for amendment and debate."

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, another of the three Republicans to vote against the GOP plan (Alaska's Lisa Murkowski was the other), said she is pleased that Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has said he will hold hearings on reform measures.

Schumer suggested the two sides could find consensus on measures aimed at shoring up Obamacare, saying, "Nobody has said Obamacare is perfect." - More, NPR

Congress Emerges From Another Health Care Failure Without A Clear Path Forward

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nine lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk, study says

By Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent

One in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life, according to an international study in the Lancet.

It lists nine key risk factors including lack of education, hearing loss, smoking and physical inactivity.

The study is being presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London.

By 2050, 131 million people could be living with dementia globally. There are estimated to be 47 million people with the condition at the moment. 

Nine factors that contribute to the risk of dementia - Read More

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What Is The 'Regular Order' John McCain Longs To Return To On Health Care?

In an emotional return to the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, Sen. John McCain admonished the leaders of his party for how they managed the health care bill and called instead for "regular order."

"Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order," the Arizona Republican said. "We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle."

That rather vague-sounding phrase — "regular order" — actually has a more concrete meaning, and it is highly relevant to the situation the Senate finds itself in right now.  - More, NPR

What Is The 'Regular Order' John McCain Longs To Return To On Health Care?

Analysis: What would happen if the United States totally disengaged from Afghanistan?

KABUL — The United States' longest war doesn't look like it will end anytime soon.

Sixteen years have passed. Nearly 2,400 U.S. troops have died. More than $700 billion has been spent. But talk of “winning” is scarce.

The goal now seems more akin to “not losing.”

A resurgent Taliban now controls 40 percent of the country's districts. A fledgling Islamic State affiliate is proving hard to eliminate in the mountainous east. The popularity of the American mission here has eroded into cynicism as the war grinds on. Afghan civilians and security forces are dying in record numbers — and more than 600 civilians were killed by NATO or government-aligned forces last year. Casualties among Afghan security forces soared by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to U.S. government watchdog SIGAR.

Perpetual conflict and lack of opportunity are driving thousands of Afghan youths to either flee the country or join militant groups. Discontent with the government and the revival of ethnic rivalries are threatening to plunge the country into political chaos, or worse. Regional powers such as Iran, Pakistan and Russia advance their own strategic interests in Afghanistan, often at the cost of American objectives.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, are leading a White House review of Afghanistan policy. The United States currently has around 8,800 troops here, down from a high of more than 100,000 in 2011. The debate has been intensely fractious within the administration, with Trump particularly skeptical of his advisers' plan for a modest troop increase and a multiyear commitment to the war — essentially par for the course. Given the way the war is going, many Americans may be wondering why their government is still in Afghanistan at all.

With that in mind, The Post's Kabul bureau asked a variety of people here — from the Taliban's spokesman to provincial politicians to taxi drivers to the press officer for the U.S. military — this question: What would happen if the United States totally disengaged from Afghanistan?

Navy Capt. William Salvin, spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan
If the U.S. and NATO were to leave Afghanistan, it will leave a void that would be exploited by the 20 terrorist and violent extremist organizations that are based in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. That is a higher concentration of terror groups than anyplace in the world. Those groups would seek to both destabilize Afghanistan and organize and launch attacks against the U.S. and the West. Those terror groups would also work to destabilize the legitimate government of Afghanistan that is fighting to bring peace and stability to the country. - More, washingtonpost

Senate rejects measure to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act - washingtonpost

The Senate rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act and provided a two-year delay for lawmakers to develop a substitute, indicating that in the immediate future Republicans can only muster a majority for modest changes to the current law.

In two separate votes over the course of less than 24 hours, lawmakers have rejected different approaches to rewriting the landmark 2010 law known as Obamacare. But many Republicans have expressed an openness to passing a minimalist measure that abolishes two of the ACA’s insurance mandates and a single tax on medical devices, which is being dubbed “skinny repeal.”

GOP leaders have emphasized it is a way for the Senate to start negotiations with the House, and perhaps the one way they can sustain their seven-year drive to dismantle the health care law.

Several lawmakers acknowledged Wednesday that they did not embrace the content of the proposal, but suggested they could possibly back it anyway.

“It’s a vehicle to get us into conference,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “That is not a solution to the problem.”

On Tuesday night, just hours after opening debate, Senate Republican leaders were unable to pass a bill that they had spent weeks crafting but that never gained sufficient traction with the rank and file. 

The fact that some Republicans have joined with Democrats on each of the votes so far underscored the challenge Senate leaders face in building consensus in coming days.

Fifty-seven senators — including nine Republicans — opposed the updated version of the measure known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), while 43 supported it. The nine dissenters included hard-line conservatives such as Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as well as centrists like Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

A subsequent move to abolish much of the ACA outright appealed to conservatives, but lost the backing of several moderates and also more establishment figures, such as GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), who chairs one of the key committees that would normally craft a health-care bill. Overall, seven Republicans voted against that proposal.

Given all the disagreement, Republicans are focused on passing narrower changes to current law by the end of the week, known as “skinny repeal,” in hopes of keeping the debate alive in a House-Senate conference. - Read More

Senate rejects measure to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act


Newsweek published this story about a presidential commission report on the C.I.A.'s domestic activities under the headline of “Who's Watching Whom” on June 23, 1975. In light of recent events, Newsweek is republishing the story.
Properly cautious in its restraint, frustratingly spotty in its detail and with a tone predictably more defensive than damning, the Rockfeller commission's long-awaited report on the CIA is clearly no whitewash. It does pull some punches, not always identifying responsible CIA officials or their prime domestic "targets," and accepting with apparent equanimity the absence or admitted destruction of important evidence. But the report also acknowledges serious violations of criminal law and congressional authority in the CIA's use of bugs, break-ins and wiretaps, the interception of mail and telephone communications, Secret experiments with drugs - and an ominous array of projects that fished for and filed away information on law-abiding U.S. citizens.

The report's most jolting disclosure is the story of Operation CHAOS and associated CIA snooping on domestic dissidents that flowered under the demands of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Both Presidents wanted to know more about the racial and antiwar disturbances that swept the nation in the late 1960s, and particularly whether the activists received foreign support or direction.Increasingly aggressive efforts by CIA undercover agents and analysts never turned up evidence of significant foreign influence, according to the Rockfeller report, but they did amass "a veritable mountain of material" on the doings of American dissidents. 

At least one secret-surveillance technique used by CHAOS - the wholesale interception and opening of Americans' mail had been a CIA tactic for years, despite explicit fears that the illegal operation might cause the agency "the worst possible publicity and embarrassment" if discovered. The Rockfeller report traced the program back to the cold-war '50s and placed the operation primarily in New York City, with short-term interceptions also taking place in San Francisco, Hawaii and New Orleans. - More

Government Surveillance: U.S. Has Long History of Watching White

Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals - nytimes

WASHINGTON — President Trump, searching for a reason to keep the United States in Afghanistan after 16 years of war, has latched on to a prospect that tantalized previous administrations: Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth, which his advisers and Afghan officials have told him could be profitably extracted by Western companies.

Mr. Trump has discussed the country’s mineral deposits with President Ashraf Ghani, who promoted mining as an economic opportunity in one of their first conversations. Mr. Trump, who is deeply skeptical about sending more American troops to Afghanistan, has suggested that this could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country.

To explore the possibilities, the White House is considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials. Last week, as the White House fell into an increasingly fractious debate over Afghanistan policy, three of Mr. Trump’s senior aides met with a chemical executive, Michael N. Silver, to discuss the potential for extracting rare-earth minerals. Mr. Silver’s firm, American Elements, specializes in these minerals, which are used in a range of high-tech products.

Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who is informally advising Mr. Trump on Afghanistan, is also looking into ways to exploit the country’s minerals, according to a person who has briefed him. Mr. Feinberg owns a large military contracting firm, DynCorp International, which could play a role in guarding mines — a major concern, given that some of Afghanistan’s richest deposits are in areas controlled by the Taliban.

In 2010, American officials estimated that Afghanistan had untapped mineral deposits worth nearly $1 trillion, an estimate that was widely disputed at the time and has certainly fallen since, given the eroding price of commodities. But the $1 trillion figure is circulating again inside the White House, according to officials, who said it had caught the attention of Mr. Trump.

The lure of Afghanistan as a war-torn Klondike is well established: In 2006, the George W. Bush administration conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources. Under President Barack Obama, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan — a challenge that was stymied by rampant corruption, as well as security problems and the lack of roads, bridges or railroads.

“It would be dangerous to use the potential for resource exploitation as a selling point for military engagement,” said Laurel Miller, a senior analyst at RAND who served until last month as the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The barriers to entry are really quite considerable, and that kind of argument could fuel suspicion about America’s real intentions in Afghanistan.”

China already has a $3 billion contract to develop a copper mine about 25 miles southeast of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Officials said Mr. Trump was determined not to spend American lives and treasure in Afghanistan only to watch China lock up its rare-earth deposits, which are used to make products from wind turbines to computer chips.

The White House’s review of Afghanistan policy — led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster — was supposed to be finished by the middle of July. Instead, it bogged down after Mr. Trump expressed displeasure with a proposal from General McMaster for a modest troop increase and a multiyear commitment to the country.

Vice President Mike Pence, not General McMaster, will lead a meeting Wednesday of National Security Council principals on Afghanistan. Some officials said that reflected General McMaster’s isolation; others said that the general welcomed Mr. Pence’s involvement and that the two were closely aligned on the policy. 

“There are undoubtedly minerals to be exploited in Afghanistan, which could help provide economic stability to the country in the future,” said Daniel F. Feldman, a former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “But given all the obstacles, it could be many years before mining yields dividends for the Afghan people.” - Read More

Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

McCain returns to applause, casts deciding vote to advance healthcare bill

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in dramatic fashion, emerged on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to a standing ovation from his colleagues to cast the deciding vote to begin the healthcare debate.

McCain walked onto the floor through the chamber’s East door as Republican and Democratic colleagues stood to applaud his return to work after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week.

The 80-year-old lawmaker, looking pale and with a wan smile, waved to his colleagues and touched his left breast, over his heart, to acknowledge them.

He had a two- to three-inch scar over his left eye, where surgeons performed an emergency craniotomy over a week ago to remove a blood clot.

McCain then shook hands with Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(Ky.) before casting a crucial vote to begin debate on House-passed legislation repealing and replacing major parts of ObamaCare.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who worked closely with McCain on immigration legislation, was so touched by the moment that he hugged McCain — even though Democrats staunchly oppose the GOP healthcare reform effort.

McCain cast the 49th vote to advance the measure and was immediately followed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who cast the 50th vote to begin the floor debate. - More, Thehill
McCain returns to applause, casts deciding vote to advance healthcare bill

Living to Modernize Afghanistan, and Meeting a Grim End - nytimes

KABUL, Afghanistan — From a dusty village in central Afghanistan, where life depends on the almond harvest, Najiba Hussaini made it far.

Graduating at the top of her high school class, she won a scholarship to earn a degree in computer applications in India, and she went on to the port city of Kobe in Japan to receive a master’s degree in information systems.

Last fall, Ms. Hussaini, 28, returned to lead the database unit at Afghanistan’s mining ministry, developing applications to digitize an old bureaucracy that is crucial to the country’s economic future.

Her life and dreams were cut short on Monday morning as she was making her way to work. A Taliban suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives in western Kabul, killing at least 24 people and wounding another 42, according to Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry. Another senior security official put the number of dead at 38.

As has become routine after such large blasts in Kabul, family members searched for hours for news of loved ones, going from hospital to hospital. Many of the bodies, including Ms. Hussaini’s, were badly burned.

While Afghan civilians in the countryside have suffered for years, the intensity of the violence in Kabul, the capital, this year is taking an unusual toll on young and educated Afghans. The attacks not only shatter lives largely built on the past decade’s opportunities, but also exacerbate a sense of hopelessness here that has driven many young Afghans to join an exodus to Europe.

Most of the people killed or wounded in the bombing on Monday worked for the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and were commuting in a minibus from western Kabul. Others were also civilians, including Khala Aziza, a cook at a local orphanage who had five children, now orphans themselves.

“There were 19 employees in that bus; 18 of them were martyred,” said Abdul Qadeer Mutfi, a spokesman for the mining ministry. “All of them were professionals and trained workers.”

A list of the ministry victims broadcast by local news organizations showed that 13 had bachelor’s degrees, in subjects including chemical technology and mineral geology. Two of the victims, including Ms. Hussaini, had master’s degrees. - Read More

Living to Modernize Afghanistan, and Meeting a Grim End - The New ...