Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rahul Gandhi: Is this the end of the Gandhi dynasty?

On Thursday when Indian PM Narendra Modi won a landslide victory in the Indian elections, Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and leader of India's Congress party, emerged at the other end, battered and mauled.

He is the primary heir to the ultimate political dynasty. His great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first and longest-serving prime minister of India. His grandmother, Indira Gandhi, was the first female prime minister of the country, and his father was India's youngest prime minister.

If the 2014 election was Congress' worst political showing ever, Thursday's poll delivered a double blow to Mr Gandhi. Congress won just over 50 seats against the 300 plus that Mr Modi's BJP got; and if that was not bad enough, he lost his own seat in the family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

He will still sit in the parliament though because this time he contested from a second seat - Wayanad in Kerala - which he won.

However, Amethi was a prestige battle. It was the seat from where both his parents - Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi - had contested and won and he himself had held it for the past 15 years. Even an emotional letter delivered to every house in Amethi - addressed to "Mera Amethi Parivar" - was not enough to spare him a ballot box humiliation at the hands of the BJP's Smriti Irani, a high profile actress-turned-politician.

It sits in the heart of Uttar Pradesh - India's most populous state - which is considered the ground zero of politics. It's generally believed that whoever wins the state rules the country.

Eight of 14 Indian prime ministers - including Mr Gandhi's great grandfather, grandmother and father - were from the state, which elects the largest number of MPs - 80 out of a 545-member lower house. Even Narendra Modi, who is originally from Gujarat, chose Uttar Pradesh to make his debut as an MP in 2014 when he contested from the ancient city of Varanasi.

Not many were expecting an outright win for the Congress, but they were definitely expected to do better than 2014. That's why Thursday's results have stunned many inside and outside the party. Congress may limp on in parliament, but the question many people are asking is if this means the Gandhi era is over - or whether it should be ended to revive the party's fortunes. - Read More

Rahul Gandhi: Is this the end of the Gandhi dynasty? - BBC News

Interview With Governor Newsom On Fixing California’s Housing Problem

Today on AirTalk, we examine if the hypocrisy of liberalism is to blame for our housing crisis; interview Governor Newsom about his recently launched housing task force; and more. - Read More

Monday, May 20, 2019

Realism Is About Understanding Different Country's Interests and Red Lines - National Interest

President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has taken quite a hit over the past several weeks, and the poor assessments from foreign policy analysts and journalists alike are beginning to leak onto the front-pages of America’s most popular newspapers. In a span of two days, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today all ran featured stories about the Trump administration’s struggle to cow three adversarial governments into submission: Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

Writing for the Times on May 12 David Sanger and Edward Wong observed that “Mr. Trump’s problems with all three countries reveal a common pattern: taking an aggressive, maximalist position without a clear plan to carry it through, followed by a fundamental lack of consensus in the administration about whether the United States should be more interventionist or less.” Former State Department negotiator James Dobbins made a similar observation to the Washington Post. He commented that “The president’s apparent tendency to brinkmanship brings with it a degree of danger—and it’s even more dangerous when it’s combined with a pattern of bluffing.” USA Today summarized Trump’s foreign policy as approaching an inflection point, “hitting the diplomatic rocks, with potentially disastrous results.”

In short, all three reports pin the blame for the lack of tangible success on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela on President Trump’s negotiating acumen and the tendency of his national security staff to often stray away from their boss’s worldview. This interpretation, however, doesn’t provide us with much context or tell the full story of why Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons program is still alive and well, why the Islamic Republic is still bankrolling proxy forces across the Middle East, why and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is still occupying the Miraflores presidential palace. - Read More

Realism Is About Understanding Different Country's Interests and Red 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

صلح افغانستان؛ چه پرسش‌هایی نزد مردم مطرح است؟

ا تدویر ششمین دور گفت‌و‌گوهای صلح میان نمایندگان ایالات متحدۀ امریکا و طالبان در دوحه‌ی قطر و پایان لویه‌جرگه مشورتی صلح در کابل، هنوز هم پرسش‌هایی بسیاری نزد مردم افغانستان بدون پاسخ باقی مانده است و آنان دقیقا نمی‌دانند که آیا به نتیجه این روند پُر فراز و نشیب خوشبین باشند یا بدبین؟

در این مقاله سعی می‌کنم، در کنار طرح این پرسش‌ها، پاسخ‌هایی هم به این پرسش‌ها ارائه کنم. البته این که در پایان این گفت‌وگوها چه فرجامی خواهد داشت، بستگی به زمان و شرایط سیاسی حاکم بر مذاکرات دارد.

چرا طالبان با حکومت افغانستان مذاکره نمی‌کنند؟

معمول‌ترین پرسش نزد مردم افغانستان مدام همین بوده است که چرا طالبانِ که می‌گویند از استقلال لازم در روند صلح برخوردار هستند، با حکومت افغانستان مذاکره نمی‌کنند؟ از دیدگاه طالبان دولت جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان قابل قبول نبوده و آنان امارت اسلامی افغانستان را به رسمیت می‌شناسند. از نظر طالبان آنچه زیر نام حکومت وحدت ملی است فقط ادارۀ کابل است که از سوی امریکا نصب شده و منافع امریکا را در افغانستان دنبال می‌کند. طالبان با شکایت از دولت امریکا باورمند هستند که خلاف توافق‌های بین‌المللی امریکا بصورت یک‌جانبه امارت اسلامی طالبان را در افغانستان سقوط داده و افغانستان را به اشغال خود در آورده است؛ بنا آنان ترجیح می‌دهند بجای اینکه به گفته‌ی خودشان با حکومت دست‌نشاندۀ امریکا گفت‌و‌گو کنند با خود امریکا مستقیم گفت‌وگو کنند.

چرا امریکا مذاکرات صلح را در جریان ۱۸ سال گذشته آغاز نکرد که به یک‌باره تلاش‌های صلح را شدت بخشیده و ظاهرا تحت هر شرایطی می‌خواهد موافقت‌نامۀ صلح به امضا برسد؟

مریکا جدا از داشتن ساختار منظم سیاسی که صلاحیت‌های رییس جمهوران خود را محدود می‌سازد؛ اکثرا در سیاست خارجی خود متکی بر تصامیم و اندیشه‌های سیاسی رییس جمهوران خود بوده است. بوش جنگ را در افغانستان با هدف مبارزه با تروریسم آغاز کرد و تاکید بیشتر بر راه‌حل نظامی داشت. با روی کار آمدن اوباما سیاست امریکا در افغانستان مبتنی بر حفظ ارزش‌هایی چون آزادی بیان، حقوق بشر، حقوق زنان، انتخابات و... گردیده و بار دیگر تاکید بر راه‌حل نظامی در افغانستان شد تا تلاش‌ها برای صلح؛ اما آنچه با روی‌کار آمدن دونالد ترامپ خلاف تمامی انتظارات رُخ داد، تشدید تلاش‌ها برای صلح و کشانیدن طالبان به میز مذاکره بود. دونالد ترامپ از زمان کمپاین‌های انتخاباتی خود تا کنون پافشاری بر ختم عملیات نظامی در کشورهای مختلف و یا حداقل کاهش هزینه‌های جنگی این کشور داشته است. وی با بیرون کردن نیروهای خود از سوریه و روند صلح افغانستان در عمل نشان داد امریکا نمی‌خواهد بیشتر از این در جنگ‌های که پس از سال‌ها هم نتیجه‌ی نداشته اند، دخیل باشد و هزینه‌های هنگفتِ را متحمل شود. اندیشه سیاسی ترامپ تفاوت‌های بارزی نسبت به بوش و اوباما داشته و کاملا مشخص است ترامپ خواهان صلح در افغانستان است و ظاهرا برایش فرقی هم نمی‌کند صلحِ منفی و یا مثبت بمیان آید. - Read More

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Senators want visas for Afghans now stranded after helping U.S. forces

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday revived an effort to provide visas to move to the United States for Afghans who worked for Americans during the long war in their country and are now stranded, their lives at risk due to that work.

The bill would provide 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for the rest of the federal fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, and also try to address obstacles that have prevented Afghans from getting visas under previously passed legislation.

National Public Radio (NPR) reported on May 1 that President Donald Trump’s administration had cut by 60 percent the number of U.S. visas provided to Afghans who risked their lives assisting American forces. About 1,650 were approved in 2018, down from more than 4,000 in fiscal year 2017.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen sponsored the bill with Republicans Thom Tillis, Roger Wicker and Cory Gardner and Democrats Jack Reed, Richard Blumenthal and Tim Kaine.

Backers of the plan said Washington needs to protect Afghans who worked for U.S. forces in order to ensure local support. - Read More

Senators want visas for Afghans now stranded after helping US forces ...

Trump Outlines 'Merit-Based' Immigration Plan, Still Far From Becoming Law

President Trump has announced an immigration proposal that would dramatically reshape the legal immigration system in the United States.

The plan "puts jobs, wages and safety of American workers first," Trump said in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday.

"We must implement an immigration system that will allow our citizens to prosper for generations to come," he said.

The plan does not address the pressing challenge of what to do about the estimated 11 million people currently in the country illegally, one of the core issues that has animated Trump's presidency.

The speech was notably softer in tone for a president who has often used harsh language when describing immigrants.

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been quietly working on the plan for months and briefed Republican senators on the details Tuesday. A senior administration official, who spoke to reporters Wednesday on the condition that his name not be used, said the proposal is a "good faith effort" intended to unify Republicans and start a discussion.

"Right now this is the Trump plan, and we're hoping this will become the Republican plan," the official said.

The plan would prioritize merit-based immigration, limiting the number of people who could get green cards by seeking asylum or based on family ties. But it would keep immigration levels static, neither increasing or decreasing the number of people allowed to legally enter the U.S. each year. Here are the elements of the proposal as described to reporters on Wednesday: - Read More

Trump Outlines 'Merit-Based' Immigration Plan, Still Far From Becoming Law

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Transcript: Robert Gates on "Face the Nation" - CBS News

The following is a transcript of the interview with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates airing Sunday, May 12, 2019, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET  BRENNAN: Afghanistan, you were intimately involved when you were the secretary of defense. President Trump campaigned on bringing the troops home. President Obama campaigned on bringing the troops home. U.S. troops are still there. Is it time to bring them home?

FMR. SEC. GATES: I think that the circumstances under which you bring them home matter. And- and I think trying to give the Afghan government the best possible shot at survival
is really important for the future of Afghanistan. I mean, if we just walk away from Afghanistan and- and the Afghan government is completely left on its own,  just think of the consequences for Afghan women, for example, or girls in schools in Afghanistan. So if you hand over this country, in effect, to the Taliban, do they go back to where they were in 19- in 2000 or 1999? And what are the costs of that and what will be the- what will be the reaction in the United States when they see women being stoned to death and things like that? So the question is, can you negotiate an arrangement whereby the Taliban agrees to operate under the Afghan Constitution, becomes a part of the political process? But the aspects of Afghanistan that have been modernized, in terms that I've just been describing, survive and I think that's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe they want to be part of the Afghan government or do they want to actually rule Afghanistan?

FMR. SEC. GATES: Oh they want- they want to take over Afghanistan.
The question is- the question is whether you can negotiate a deal--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So it's unrealistic to believe then that the Taliban would agree to do things like respect women's rights, isn't it?

FMR. SEC. GATES: Well- but if they- if they agree to any kind of a compromise deal, it's really up to the other Afghans at the end of the day to- to resist any moves, to get rid of those changes, to go backward, if you will. But I think it's up to us after all this time to at least try and put the Afghan government in as positive a position for that contest that will come at some point as we can. But at the end of the day, you've got to admit, it's going to be up to the Afghans themselves.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The point you're making is not something that the Trump administration is doing though in terms of involving the Afghan government or keeping them fully informed in these negotiations with the Taliban. Do you think those peace talks are headed in the wrong direction?

FMR. SEC. GATES: No, but I think- I think there is such a thing as sequencing and- and obviously a big part of the Taliban's interest in this is getting the U.S. out. And so the discussions are really about what's the role of the U.S. in the future. And- and I think there have now been moves to include the Afghan government and larger representatives of Afghan society in the negotiations with the Taliban.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Last question on this. So the- the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, who you know well, compared this to Vietnam. He said, "You pull out your troops, it doesn't end the war. That hands the battlefield to your adversaries." Do you see that?

FMR. SEC. GATES: I think there's a very real risk of that, yes. - Read More

Transcript: Robert Gates on "Face the Nation" - CBS News

U.S. Prepares Tariffs On Additional $300B Of Imported Chinese Goods

The Trump administration is preparing a new list of $300 billion worth of Chinese imports that would be hit with tariffs of up to 25%, after China retaliated Monday in the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative published a list of Chinese goods that would be hit with new duties, ranging from artists' brushes and paint rollers to clocks and watches. The list also includes a wide range of sporting goods, from baseballs to fishing reels. And it dedicates several pages to agricultural products, from livestock to dairy, plants and vegetables. Staples such as rice and tea are on the list.

"The proposed product list covers essentially all products not currently covered by action in this investigation," the USTR office says. It adds, "The proposed product list excludes pharmaceuticals, certain pharmaceutical inputs, select medical goods, rare earth materials, and critical minerals."

The U.S. proposal will enter a public comment period and could take effect sometime in late June or July.

On Monday, China's State Council Customs Tariff Commission announced it will impose tariffs of up to 25% on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods starting in June, in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

The tit-for-tat exchange rattled stock markets on Monday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 2.4%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite closed the day down 3.4%. - Read More

U.S. Prepares Tariffs On Additional $300B Of Imported Chinese Goods

Friday, May 10, 2019

H.R. McMaster says the public is fed a ‘war-weariness’ narrative that hurts US strategy

War in Afghanistan can be sustained, but the narrative of a war-weary American public is hurting that effort, former National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said Wednesday.

Long wars are manageable when waged alongside allies, utilizing burden sharing, said McMaster, who now serves as chairman of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“There’s this defeatist narrative that’s inaccurate, and doesn’t reflect what’s at stake and doesn’t reflect the actual situation,” McMaster said at a think tank forum in Washington, D.C.

The American public is not properly weighing costs when debating the military’s role in the Middle East, according to McMaster, who pointed to a recent town hall debate he watched.

“A young student stood up and said ‘all I’ve known my whole life is war,’” McMaster said. “Now, he’s never been to war, but he’s been subjected, I think, to this narrative of war-weariness.”

“The United States today has a smaller percentage of its military deployed overseas than it has had since 1950," he added.

Americans should view the war in Afghanistan as essentially an “insurance policy” against what could happen in the country, McMaster said, adding that the collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government would forfeit a region known as Khorasan to jihadi groups.

“If you think about the importance of the mission in Afghanistan, to protect what is fundamentally a transformed society, from the enemies that we’re facing — the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies — it is a cost that is sustainable," McMaster said.

While there is an important shift to focus on conventional military force in an era of great power competition, McMaster added that China and Russia shouldn’t be used as excuses to shirk tough challenges in the Middle East.

“I think what’s happening now is almost an exclusive focus in some places on the return of great power competition," he said. "It has become almost an emotional cathartic to get beyond the wars of unanticipated length and difficulty in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

McMaster also said that the term “nation-building” has created an unrealistic expectation of what the U.S. can do to shape another country, especially one like Afghanistan. But progress has been made there, he added, pointing to the arena of women’s rights and democratic voting.

“Afghanistan is not going to become Switzerland. It’s just not,” he said. “It can be Afghanistan, and it can be an Afghanistan like it was in the ’70s or like it was during this really short but brutal period of rule under the Taliban from 1996 to 2001." - Read More

H.R. McMaster says the public is fed a 'war-weariness' narrative that ...

Germany criticised for mistreatment of Afghan asylum seeker

A watchdog accuses German police of 'choking and squeezing genitals' of Afghan man while he was being expelled.
A European Council watchdog committee has accused German police of mistreating an Afghan man who was being expelled by choking him and squeezing his genitals.

"To ill-treat a person by squeezing the genitals, a technique which is clearly aimed at inflicting severe pain to gain compliance, is both excessive and inappropriate," the council's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) said in a report on Thursday.

It focused on an August 14, 2018 charter flight that carried 46 Afghans from Munich to Kabul on behalf of the European Union's border agency Frontex after their asylum requests had been denied.

Three CPT representatives were also on the flight, along with about 100 German police officers, six of whom had restrained the Afghan in question.

The mass expulsion took place for the most part in a professional manner, the report said, but one unruly Afghan man was subdued using two controversial techniques, the second being the use of an arm around his neck to temporarily cut off his air supply. - Read More

Germany criticised for mistreatment of Afghan asylum seeker | News ...

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Trump To Nominate Patrick Shanahan As Defense Secretary

President Trump will nominate acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as secretary of defense, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Thursday.

"Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job," Sanders tweeted.

Shanahan, 56, spent virtually his entire adult life working at Boeing Co., where he helped shepherd the 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

He joined the Trump administration as deputy defense secretary in 2017. When Defense Secretary Jim Mattis abruptly resigned last year over Syria policy, Shanahan was immediately thrust into the top job

"I spent the better part of 18 months, if you will, sitting in the right seat of the cockpit with Secretary Mattis in the left seat," Shanahan said in January at his first — and so far only — meeting with the press in the Pentagon briefing room, appropriately using an aircraft metaphor when asked how he was doing in his new job.

"So most of the material, the subject matter and the interactions are with people and subjects that are very, very familiar," he said. - Read More

Trump To Nominate Patrick Shanahan As Defense Secretary

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Dr. Oz on Vaccinations & Hallucinogenic Drugs

Monday, May 06, 2019

Royal baby: Meghan gives birth to boy, Harry announces - BBC

The Duchess of Sussex has given birth to a boy, the Duke of Sussex has announced.

A beaming Prince Harry said they were "absolutely thrilled" and thanked the public for their support.

He said Meghan and the baby were doing "incredibly well", adding that they were still thinking about names for the infant, who was delivered at 05:26 BST.

Buckingham Palace said the baby weighed 7lbs 3oz (3.2kg), and that the duke was present for the birth.

The baby boy is seventh in line to the throne, behind the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and his children - Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis - and Prince Harry.

Speaking after the birth, Harry said the child had been "a little overdue" and that he planned to make another announcement in two days' time "so everyone can see the baby".

Asked what it was like to be present for the birth, he laughed and said: "I haven't been at many births. This is definitely my first birth. It was amazing, absolutely incredible, and, as I said, I'm so incredibly proud of my wife.

"As every father and parent will ever say, you know, your baby is absolutely amazing, but this little thing is absolutely to-die-for, so I'm just over the moon."

He added: "It's been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined.

"How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension." - Read More

Royal baby: Meghan gives birth to boy, Harry announces - BBC News

Seasonal Sniffles? Immunotherapy Tablets Catch On As An Alternative To Allergy Shots

Sneezing, runny nose, congestion, or irritated eyes? Yes, we hear you: The misery of seasonal allergies is real. A lot of people find temporary relief with over-the-counter medications, but these don't treat the cause.

As we head into grass pollen season over the next few months, here's an option to consider: Many allergists now prescribe immunotherapy tablets, which work in the same way as allergy shots, to some of their patients with grass allergies.

But unlike allergy shots, which require frequent trips to the doctor, you can take the tablets at home. "It's a little wafer you put under your tongue, and it dissolves in about 10 seconds," says allergist Mike Tankersley, who practices in Memphis, Tenn.

The treatment, known as sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, is more convenient than shots and has been shown to be safe. But it won't work for everyone. Each tablet targets just one allergy. There are four FDA-approved tablet products on the market to treat grass pollens, house dust mites and ragweed.

"I've had several patients who have been very happy with having something to take at home," Tankersley says.

According to a recent survey by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 73 percent of allergists now prescribe these immunotherapy tablets to some of their patients. Since these productswere approved, starting five years ago, "there's been a significant change in practice in the United States," Tankersley says.

Tankersley, who also serves as vice chair of the ACAAI's Committee on Immunotherapy and Diagnostics, says he still recommends allergy shots to the majority of patients because most of them have multiples allergies. Shots can be formulated to target all of the allergies in one shot.

Tankersley says he recommends this quiz from ACAAI for patients trying to decide whether shots or tablets are the best option. - Read More

Seasonal Sniffles? Immunotherapy Tablets Catch On As An ... - NPR

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

New type of dementia identified - BBC News

Millions of elderly people have a form of dementia that has been misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers.

One expert called it the most important dementia finding in years.

The condition, limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, or Late, shares similar symptoms to Alzheimer's, but it is a distinct disease, the journal Brain reports.

It may partly explain why finding a dementia cure has failed so far.

Dementia is not a single disease, but is the name for a group of symptoms that include problems with memory and thinking.

There are lots of different types of dementia and Alzheimer's is said to be the most common and most researched.

But up to a third of Alzheimer's in elderly people may instead be Late, says the international team of researchers, although both dementias can co-exist.

Late appears to affect the "oldest old" - people over 80 - according to the work that looked at evidence from thousands of post-mortem results.

One in five in this age group has it, meaning the public health impact of the disease will be large, say the researchers. - Read More

New type of dementia identified - BBC News

Akihito: The Japanese emperor with the human touch

On a beautiful spring morning last week, I stood on a street corner on the western outskirts of Tokyo. For hundreds of metres in each direction, the road was lined, three-deep, with eager, excited faces. Then, with almost no warning, a large black limousine approached over a bridge, motorcycle outriders on either side.

As the car slipped by, for a few brief moments, we could see Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko leaning forward waving gently. A ripple of applause and waving of plastic flags from the crowd, and they were gone.

To me, it all seemed a little anti-climactic. And I was not alone. Nearby an elderly lady was chastising a policeman.

"Why did they go so fast?" she demanded to know. "Usually they drive much slower than that. We hardly got any chance to see them."

The policeman smiled patiently. Clearly, he had no control over the speed of the motorcade.

I had expected a few hundred hardcore groupies to turn out for this final visit by the royal couple to the imperial tombs. Instead there must have been 5,000 or more. Some were dabbing away tears as the crowds began to disperse.

"I am grateful for what they have done for the Japanese people," said a lady wearing an exquisite spring kimono. "I waved at them with the feeling of deep gratitude for all these years."

"I am really moved," said her friend. "I hope he can rest and have a peaceful life after so many years on duty."

Kaoru Sugiyama, wearing a large floppy sunhat, had also come with a group of friends.

"I am not from the generation that experienced the war," she said. "But when you look back, it is the emperor that has kept peace in Japan through his reign. So I wanted to come and see him on his last visit, to show my gratitude. I wanted to tell him, 'thank you'."

What is it that Emperor Akihito has done to inspire such feelings? - Read More

Akihito: The Japanese emperor with the human touch - BBC News

Trump Administration Has Drastically Dropped Visas For Afghan And Iraqi Interpreters

Khalid al-Baidhani found out early about the risks of being an Iraqi working for the U.S. military in Baghdad. In 2006, he was waiting for a ride home outside a U.S. base.

"A car stopped right away, took out the pistol and start shooting me," Baidhani recalls, "I [couldn't] feel anything after that."

Baidhani survived, recovered and went back to work with U.S. forces.

"I want ... good communications between U.S. military and Iraqi civilians over there," he said.

His uncle also volunteered. So did his brother Wisam, who worked with Peter Farley, a former Army sergeant from Massachusetts.

"I couldn't imagine in a million years that I'd go over there and come back with one of my best friends being an Iraqi national," Farley told NPR.

In light of the sacrifice made by Iraqis and Afghans who assisted U.S. forces, Congress created the Special Immigrant Visa program to get them and their families to safety in the U.S. Farley says it was about gratitude and also an incentive for local nationals to help U.S. troops. Now veterans such as Farley, as well as dozens of lawmakers, say they're afraid the promise they made is being broken. Under the Trump administration, the number coming to the U.S. has dropped drastically. - Read More

Trump Administration Has Drastically Dropped Visas For Afghan And Iraqi Interpreters

The U.S. Public Will No Longer Have A Key Data Point About Afghanistan War

The U.S. has lost more than 2,200 lives and spent more than $840 billion on Afghanistan, its longest-ever war.

But the U.S. public is steadily provided with less and less key information about how the war is going. Now, another crucial measure of the war's progress is no longer public.

For years, the U.S. military has released basic information about how much of Afghanistan is under Afghan government control and how much is under control of the Taliban. And it's shown that the amount of land under government control has dropped over time, from 72% of districts in Nov. 2015 to 54% of districts in Oct. 2018.

Almost Half of Afghan Districts Are Contested Or Under Insurgent Control- Read More