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North Korea ‘Upgrading Rocket Launch Site’

Pyongyang - North Korea appears to be upgrading one of its two rocket launch sites, US experts say, perhaps in a move to test bigger rockets. "Important progress" had been made at Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground since October 2012, the analysis from the 38 North website said. Activities around the new launch pad also revealed possible evidence of assistance from Iran, it said. Pyongyang used a three-stag ...

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President Karzai: Presidential Candidates Will Have to Quit Govt. Posts

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday said in a closed Council of Ministers session that any high-ranking officials who nominate themselves to run in the presidential election must resign from their posts, according to a senior government official. The comment was later backed up by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) which said this is a requirement under the election law. During the ministers' mee ...

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Pentagon Favors Phased Reduction of US Troops over Three Years

Washington - The Pentagon is pushing a plan that would keep about 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan once the NATO military mission there ends in 2014 but significantly shrink the contingent over the following two years, according to senior U.S. government officials and military officers. The phased-reduction approach, which would define the shape of the United States’ endgame in Afghanistan, represents an ef ...

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Conference of Religious Scholars in March

KABUL - A conference involving 500 religious scholars from Afghanistan and Pakistan would be held in Kabul in March, an official said on Tuesday. High Peace Council (HPC) Secretary Aminuddin Muzaffari told a news conference an eight-member delegation of Afghan scholars and council members, led by Maulvi Qayamuddin Kashaf, had returned from a two-day visit to Pakistan. He said the two sides had agreed on dis ...

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$18.2m GPI Agreement Inked With US

Kabul - US Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland and Minister of Counter-Narcotics Zarar Moqbel Osmani on Tuesday signed an agreement allocating $18.2 million (939 million afghanis) for programs supported by the Good Performers Initiative (GPI) awards.  GPI awards were presented to 21 provinces that achieved poppy-free status in 2012, reduced poppy cultivation by more than 10 percent from the previous year, or ma ...

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Obama Calls Karzai Says to Withdraw 34000 Troops in One Year

Washington - The US President, Barack Obama, called his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, today to inform him about his decision to withdraw some 34,000 of his 60,0000 troops currently stationed in the country in the next one year, senior administration officials said Tuesday. The announcement in this regard would be formally made by the US President in his State of the Union Address here on Tuesday night ( ...

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Roger Federer wants more drug testing in tennis

Roger Federer wants biological passports similar to those used in cycling to be introduced to detect doping in tennis.  The Wimbledon champion reiterated his recent claims that blood tests are less frequent than earlier in his career. "A blood passport will be necessary as some substances can't be discovered right now," said the 31-year-old. "But there also should be more blood tests and out of competition ...

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Celtic Captain Hails Pirlo as One of the Greats

Celtic captain Scott Brown has described Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo as “one of the greats,” ahead of their UEFA Champions League clash on Tuesday evening. The Italian maestro is coming off the back of a magnificent 2012, where he played an integral role in Juventus’ undefeated Serie A-winning campaign last season, and was instrumental in Italy’s Euro 2012 run. 2013 gives him the opportunity to once ag ...

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Overcoming Fear of Possible Vacuum

Pressure is mounting on the United States and the Afghan government as the deadline of NATO withdrawal is coming nearer. Until now the US and NATO has had crucial role in the fight against militants where major part of the offense was being shouldered by American troops whereas with the transfer of security it is the Afghan security that will do the job onward. Besides that currently there are also certain ...

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The Insidious Language of War

By HABIB ZAHORI It is a cliché anymore to note that three decades of war have changed Afghanistan. But sometimes, even the little differences have the power to shock when they are noticed — like the realization of how profoundly war has worked its way into everyday conversations, and has even changed vocabulary. My family is originally from the Arghandab district of Kandahar Province, in the south where the ...

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Obama to focus on economy in State of the Union address

The US economy is expected to dominate President Barack Obama’s state of the union speech later today. With unemployment stuck at eight percent, stagnant or falling wages and a middle class worrying for its future, analysts say Obama needs to use his personal popularity to build confidence. Apart from the ongoing gun control debate, analyst Professor Allan Lichtman said the speech will need to promise to pu ...

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Research Helps toExplain Early-OnsetPuberty in Females

New research from Oregon Health & Science University has provided significant insight into the reasons why early-onset puberty occurs in females. The research, which was conducted at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center, is published in the current early online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience. The paper explains how OHSU scientists are investigating the role of epigenetics in the co ...

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North Korea Conducts Third Controversial Nuke Test

Pyongyang - Defying U.N. warnings, North Korea on Tuesday conducted its third nuclear test in the remote, snowy northeast, taking a crucial step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States. North Korea said the atomic test was merely its "first response" to what it called U.S. threats, and said it will continue with unspecified "second and ...

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Inquiry Panel Confirms UN Torture Report

KABUL - An official inquiry panel on Monday said its investigation confirmed detainees in several Afghanistan's jails had been tortured, but not abused systematically. Led by Abdul Qadir Adalat Khwah, deputy head of Independent Commission for Oversight of the Implementation of the Constitution” (ICOIC), the panel spoke to 140 prisoners in Kabul, Herat and Kandahar provinces. Half of those interviewed, 285 i ...

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Pakistan’s Rehman Meeting with Taliban Confirmed

Kabul - A Pakistan political leader has met with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar in an unexpected move that the Pakistani government has distanced itself from and some Afghan analysts say will not bring any positive results. Head of the Islamic conservative party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman met with the Taliban representatives in Doha on Sunday. It is understood that he met a group h ...

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MPs Condemn Govt. Pressure on Election Commission

Kabul - Members of a parliamentary group Monday spoke out against the Afghan government's push to use old registration cards in the upcoming presidential election, citing greater risk of fraud. The Resalat Parliamentary Group released a statement warning the executive arm of the government that if the 2014 election collapses with fraud, it will mean a failure of democracy and Afghanistan will enter a huge c ...

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US Gen. Dunford Has NATO’s Full Support: Medley

KABUL - NATO senior civilian representative's spokesman Dominic Medley on Monday said Afghan forces would be in the lead for security across their country in a matter of months, with ISAF shifting its main effort from combat to support.  He said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was confident that US Gen. Dunford, who took command of all foreign forces in Afghanistan on Sunday from his predecesso ...

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Gates Advocates Residual Force Post-2014

Washington - Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday 3,000 proposed residual US troops in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline would be too little and 30,000 would be too many, calling some kind of residual force as important to maintain the country's stability and long-term peace. “I think it's very important that we maintain some kind of serious residual presence in Afghanistan for training th ...

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Pique: I Want Manchester United to Beat Real Madrid

The towering center back is cheering for his former team ahead of the Champions League tie, and has hailed Barca's strength in depth. Barcelona defender Gerard Pique hopes that Manchester United will reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League at the expense of Real Madrid. The Spain international wore the United jersey from 2004 until 2008, and he is hopeful that his former team can beat Barca's arch r ...

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The Rights of Prisoners Must be Protected

In a country struggling with war and insurgency, a weak judicial system and mismanaged security forces would result to violation of laws of the country and rights of the people, whether free citizens or enemy prisoners. Perhaps Afghanistan is at this stage of its post-Taliban history. A government-appointed inquiry panel tasked for probing torture of prisoners confirmed that prisoners have been tortured in ...

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