Afghanistan’s female TV presenters must cover their faces, say Taliban

File photo: In this photograph taken on January 30, 2013 a female Afghan news presenter reads the news at a studio in Kabul.
Image caption,Female presenters – faces uncovered – have become common on screen in recent years

The Taliban have ordered female Afghan TV presenters and other women on screen to cover their faces while on air.

Media outlets were told of the decree on Wednesday, a religious police spokesman told BBC Pashto.

The ruling comes two weeks after all women were ordered to wear a face veil in public, or risk punishment.

Restrictions are being tightened on women – they are banned from travelling without a male guardian and secondary schools are shut for girls.

One female Afghan journalist working for a local TV station in Kabul, who did not want to be named, said she’d been shocked to hear the latest news.

“They are putting indirect pressure on us to stop us presenting on TV,” she told the BBC.

“How can I read the news with my mouth covered? I don’t know what to do now – I must work, I am the breadwinner of my family.”The new decree will take effect from 21 May, Reuters news agency reported, quoting a spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue.

(From August 2021) Female presenters return on Afghanistan’s Tolo News, with one interviewing the Taliban

The spokesman referred to the ruling as “advice” – it is not clear what will happen to anyone who fails to comply.

“Based on information received by Tolo news, the order has been issued to all media outlets in Afghanistan,” the news channel reported.

The decision is being widely criticised on Twitter, with many calling it another step by the Taliban to promote extremism.

“The world deploys masks to protect people from Covid. The Taliban deploys masks to protect people from seeing the faces of women journalists. For the Taliban, women are a disease,” one activist tweeted.

The private Shamshad news channel posted a photo of its news presenter wearing a mask, and other similar images are being shared on social media.

During their first stint in power in the 1990s the Taliban forced women to wear the all-encompassing burka in public.

The hardline Islamist movement was driven from power by US-led troops in 2001, after which many restrictions eased. Women appearing on television showing their faces became a common sight.

After retaking power last August, following the withdrawal of foreign forces, the Taliban had held off issuing new laws on what women should wear.

This raised hopes they would govern Afghanistan, a deeply conservative and patriarchal country, more flexibly this time.

A burka-clad woman and a girl on a street in Kandahar on 5 March 2022
Image caption,The burka was enforced by the Taliban in the 1990s and still worn by many women

Many women still wore the burka, but in bigger cities it was also common to see women continuing to wear headscarves.

However in early May the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue announced that all women would have to cover their face in public, and indicated that a burka would be the ideal garment to achieve this.

Anyone refusing to comply with the ruling risks an escalating series of punishments.

Infographic showing different types of Muslim head coverings for women

Most Muslims around the world do not consider women covering their face mandatory, or oppose them working.

Women are still employed in some jobs in Afghanistan, such as healthcare and education, but many others have been told not to return to work now the Taliban are back in power.

The country has been plunged into economic crisis and famine under Taliban rule.

Western diplomats have indicated that resuming development funding and unlocking frozen cash depends on better treatment of women.

But early hopes the Taliban might relax their approach have been eroded amid signs influential hardliners in the group have the upper hand.

The journalist in Kabul who spoke to the BBC wanted the international community to put pressure on the Taliban.

“They should tell them you have 10 days to change otherwise we are going to cut off relations and aid.”

She said she believed the Taliban planned to stop women doing all kinds of work outside their homes. “They want women to live like prisoners at home. Every day they issued decrees against us – I don’t think we can survive.”

The Taliban are pretending that they are living in the 15th century.

‘Freudian slip’: Bush decries ‘invasion of Iraq’ – not Ukraine

Former US President George W Bush appears to admit the 2003 invasion of Iraq was ‘wholly unjustified, brutal’ in a speech about the Russian war on Ukraine.

Bush
Former US President George W Bush delivers a speech to crew on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln following the US invasion of Iraq [File: Larry Downing/Reuters]

Former United States President George W Bush has decried the “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq” in a gaffe during a speech in the US state of Texas.

The former president, who launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the false pretence that the country was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), meant to decry the Russian invasion of Ukraine during the speech in Dallas on Wednesday.

Instead, while criticising Russia’s political system, he said: “The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.

“I mean, of Ukraine,” he said quickly.

He then said “Iraq too” to laughter from the crowd.

Several investigations have detailed how the Bush administration relied on faulty intelligence while misleading the public in the lead up to the war, with advocates calling for years for Bush and other officials to be held accountable for what has been called an illegal invasion.

Andrew Stroehlein, the European media director of Human Rights Watch, called the stumble the “Freudian slip of the century”.

Wrote Pouya Alimagham, a modern Middle East historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Wow – the one time Bush told the truth about the invasion of #Iraq.”

Added writer Maris Kabas in a tweet: “If I could tell my 17-year-old self one thing it’s that George W Bush will admit to unjustly invading Iraq in 17 years.”

The US invasion of Iraq, which was officially completed in 2011, has been directly attributed to widespread instability in the country that led to the rise of the ISIL (ISIS) armed group.

The UK-based Iraq Body Count Project has recorded as many as 209,422 violent civilian deaths in Iraq since the March 2003 US invasion.

When the initial invasion began, the International Commission on Jurists in Geneva said it represented a “war of aggression” that constituted a crime under international law.

In 2010, a Dutch inquiry, the first-ever independent legal assessment of the war, determined the invasion had “no basis in international law”.

A year later, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission found Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of crimes against humanity for the war. The verdict was not enforceable.

Video of Bush’s comment had been viewed about 10 million times on Twitter early Thursday, with some observers saying the slipup indicated more than just a guilty conscience.

“No but seriously, George W Bush whisperingly affirms his own self-description as launching a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” tweeted Will Greaves, an assistant professor of international relations at the University of Victoria.

“He knows it, and he also knows that he’ll never face consequences even as they’re called for Putin,” he said. “So it’s not funny, it’s impunity.”

‘Russian Rhapsody’ Crazy Merrie Melodies Anti-Hitler Propaganda Cartoon  

Depictions of Russia in American propaganda had some wild vacillation before the Cold War. The first Red Scare followed the Russian Revolution, and anti-communist sentiment really found purchase around 1919. Leftists in the US (many of them immigrants) became a force to be reckoned with, and bitter labor conflicts (plus some radical terrorism) seemed to suggest a Bolshevik revolution was imminent in the Americas. There’s the period however, during World War II, before Truman decided to wave his nuclear dick at Stalin, when Russians were still our Nazi-fighting Allies, and 1944’s Merrie Melodies production “Russian Rhapsody” is a fascinating artifact of that ambivalence America had towards the Soviets.

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Of course, the cartoon doesn’t quite portray Russians as “dignified.” Rather than some cartoon-friendly version of Red Army soldiers fighting Nazis in the snow, they’re literal “gremlins”—tiny things that are only really capable of sabotaging a plane. (The title was originally “Gremlins from the Kremlin,” but Disney was developing an animated version of Roald Dahl’s The Gremlins at the time and Roy Disney pressured Warner Brothers to change the name.) Regardless, the gremlins are clearly the good guys, whipping out a mask of Stalin to frighten Der Führer.

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In addition to being a really beautiful (and profoundly weird) piece of animation, “Russian Rhapsody” has some great dog whistles. The cartoon starts out with Hitler delivering a speech that’s a direct reference to a scene from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. As an inside joke, some of the gibberish German Hitler spouts is actually the names of animators and studio staff. The gremlin faces are actually based on caricatures of Warner Brothers legends like Chuck Jones, Robert Clampett, Friz Freleng, and Leon Schlesinger. The berserk musical score was provided by the great cartoon composer Carl Stalling.

American Idiots

The idiot above committed one of the greatest geopolitical blunders in history. The Iraq invasion in 2003 was uncalled for and completely unnecessary. Saddam was no threat to the U.S. The invasion and subsequent war cost tens of thousands of lives and caused that area of the Middle East to headlong into chaos, extreme hardship and indescribable violence . The invasion is still felt in the region to this day.

Green Day released this song in 2005.

This idiot attempted a coup D’etat against the fairly elected president of the United States in 2021. He continues to say that he actually won the 2020 presidential election without any concrete evidence whatsoever. He also pulled the United States out of climate agreements and a nuclear deal with Iran. He imposed tariffs on friendly countries and harshly criticised and slandered NATO. He also divided the American nation like no other president. His lies have created a deep ideological rift within the very fabric of American culture and society. Let’s hope and pray that this idiot fades away and gets sequestered into a deep cesspool within American history.

North Korea launches ballistic missile at North America

After doing some bad methamphetamine, Kim Jong Un and his brown nosing generals decide to hit the U.S. with their new long-range missile the KN-08. The intended target was either Los Angeles or San Francisco according to RAND Corporation analysts.

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The missile guidance system fails, as predicted by Stephen Colbert, and lands a thousand miles to the north. The missile and its nuclear warhead land in southern Alberta, Canada. Barley missing blowing up a herd of 10,000 black Angus cattle.

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It is time Canada gets on board with the U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system.

North Korea: Soldiers smash bricks, bend iron rods in combat display

North Korean state media has aired footage of soldiers putting on a display of their combat prowess and ability to smash various objects with their bare hands.

The performance was staged at a defence exhibition in Pyongyang, and watched by leaders including Kim Jong-un.

Besides destroying bricks and tiles, soldiers were seen lying on beds of glass shards and iron nails, with concrete slabs sledgehammered to bits onto their bodies.

The finale showed men bending iron rods with their necks and breaking out of chains.

North Korea media said it was to show enemies that their soldiers had “iron fists to protect the peace of the country”.

Though it goes without saying, it’s probably best to avoid trying any of these stunts at home.

Amazing Photos from National Geographic

Baseball in Cuba

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Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California

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Booth Island, Antarctica

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Café in Paris

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Chicken farm in Pennsylvania

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Fishing in Indonesia

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Beach in New Jersey

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Shelf cloud in Saskatchewan

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Skating in Sweden.  The saying goes that there was a hockey game being played here a while back, one guy got a break away and was never heard from again.

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Waves, Iceland

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New housing development outskirts of Mexico City.  This really reminds me of the old song Rise Against – Little Boxes.

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Trump once suggested all of Seoul’s 10 million residents move to avoid North Korean threat

Long before President Donald Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man” or met him in person, Trump had an idea to safeguard millions of South Koreans from the dictator’s wrath: Move them. Move them all.

According to an excerpt from Peter Bergen’s new book Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos, posted by Time on Thursday morning, the president made a startling comment during a mid-April 2017 briefing on North Korea.

After seeing a satellite image showing that Seoul — South Korea’s capital, home to 10 million inhabitants — sits just 15 miles south of the country’s heavily militarized border with the North, Trump asked, “Why is Seoul so close to the North Korean border?”

He then made a rather unorthodox suggestion: “They have to move,” Trump said, referring to the city’s residents. “They have to move!” he repeated. Those in attendance at the Oval Office briefing were uncertain whether or not Trump was joking, Bergen writes.

Trump, Bergen notes, had already been briefed numerous times on the danger Seoul faces every day. The city is in direct firing range of thousands of pieces of North Korean artillery that are already lined up along the border between the two countries, also known as the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Around 70 percent of North Korea’s ground forces are within 90 miles of the DMZ, presumably ready to move south at a moment’s notice.

 

Seoul is the big bright spot middle to the left.  South Korea is immersed in lights throughout the country. North Korea has no lights.  The one small light on the left is the capital city Pyongyang.

 

Simulations of a large-scale artillery fight between the North and South produce pretty bleak results. One war game convened by the Atlantic magazine back in 2005 predicted that a North Korean attack would kill 100,000 people in Seoul in the first few days alone. Others put the estimate even higher. A war game mentioned by the National Interest predicted Seoul could “be hit by over half-a-million shells in under an hour.”

Evidently, Trump hadn’t realized just how vulnerable the city’s 10 million citizens were until he saw that satellite photo. So his alarm is understandable. And sure, perhaps he was kidding. But given Trump’s history of suggesting wildly infeasible or downright illegal policy ideas, it’s also entirely possible he was serious.

Pushing 10 million people — roughly the population of the entire country of Sweden — further south on the peninsula would be a nearly impossible exercise. It’s just too many people to move and would cost a fortune in both transportation and relocation, and of course North Korea would notice such a mass migration.

What’s more, North Korea has weapons that can reach all of South Korea, meaning Seoul’s dwellers would need to leave the country entirely to be safer. Now that North Korea has shown it has a missile that could reach the US — potentially carrying a nuclear bomb — it’s hard to fathom where those millions could go to avoid any danger.

While there’s no question Seoul remains a major target and could be decimated in a war with North Korea, the city’s location remains a sticky reality.

The comment is “uniquely Trumpy,” says Catholic University US foreign policy expert Justin Logan, “but it’s a reminder that the nuclear issue, which is all we talk about, is one part of a larger security problem on the [Korean] Peninsula. A nuclear deal wouldn’t deal with the geography or artillery.”

It’s a problem that even Steve Bannon, Trump’s former lead strategist, lamented in an August 2017 interview with the American Prospect. “Forget it,” he said. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

Trump has changed his tune since the early days of his presidency. He no longer calls for drastic measures like a mass movement of civilians, instead preferring to engage Kim directly to convince him to dismantle his nuclear program. That effort has sputtered, and it appears that unless real progress is made soon, North Korea will abandon diplomacy in favor of further ramping up its weapons development.

“The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US,” Ri Thae Song, vice minister in charge of US affairs, told the state-run Korean Central News Agency this week, using the initials for North Korea’s official name.

“The DPRK has heard more than enough dialogue rhetoric raised by the US whenever it is driven into a tight corner,” Ri continued. “So, no one will lend an ear to the US any longer.”

So if Trump wants to avoid a turbulent 2020, he’ll have to come up with a new idea — and fast.