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Afghan girls ordered home just hours after schools reopen in Taliban reversal

The Japan Times

Kabul – The Taliban ordered girls' secondary schools in Afghanistan to shut Wednesday just hours after they reopened, an official confirmed, sparking confusion and heartbreak over the policy reversal by the hard-line Islamist group. "Yes, it's true," Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani said when asked to confirm reports that girls had been ordered home. He would not immediately explain the reasoning, while education ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmad Rayan said: "We are not allowed to comment on this." An AFP team was filming at Zarghona High School in the capital, Kabul, when a teacher entered and said class was over. Crestfallen students, back at school for the first time since the Taliban seized power in August last year, tearfully packed up their belongings and filed out.


The Taliban closes Afghan girls' schools hours after reopening

Al Jazeera

The Taliban administration in Afghanistan has announced that girls' high schools will be closed, hours after they reopened for the first time in nearly seven months. The backtracking by the Taliban means female students above the sixth grade will not be able to attend school. A Ministry of Education notice said on Wednesday that schools for girls would be closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture, according to Bakhtar News Agency, a government news agency. "We inform all girls high schools and those schools that are having female students above class six that they are off until the next order," said the notice. "Yes, it's true," Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani told AFP when asked to confirm reports that girls had been ordered home.


After Yang Will Make You Grieve For a Robot

WIRED

Someone at a robot company once told me a story about one of its bomb disposal machines. The soldiers who had been using the robot in Afghanistan were dismayed after it returned from repairs. They said that the robot's shiny new parts and casing--lacking the bullet holes and blast scars they knew--made it seem as if the machine itself had, in a sense, died. It might seem odd, grieving a robot. But for anyone who's seen After Yang, the beautiful and strange new movie by the South Korean filmmaker Kogonada, it won't.


Artificial Intelligence, Lawyers And Laws Of War - AI Summary

#artificialintelligence

But in a highly automated future war of long-range missiles, swarming robots, and sensor jamming, warned the head of Army Futures Command, "you're not going to have 30 seconds to stand around a mapboard and make those decisions." "Back when I was a brigade commander, even when I was commander of the Third Infantry Division in Afghanistan," Murray recalled, "life and death decisions were being made just about every day, and it usually was around, either [a] mapboard or some sort of digital display." Along with the staff officers for intelligence, operations and fire support, he said, one of a handful of "key people standing around that mapboard" was the command's lawyer, its Staff Judge Advocate. Gen. Murray raised this question addressing a West Point-Army Futures Command conference on the law of future war, but he didn't provide an answer. In its Project Convergence wargames last fall, Murray noted, the Army already used AI to detect potential targets in satellite images, then move that targeting data to artillery batteries on the ground in "tens of seconds," as opposed to the "tens of minutes" the traditional call-for-fires process takes.


A Longitudinal Dataset of Twitter ISIS Users

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We present a large longitudinal dataset of tweets from two sets of users that are suspected to be affiliated with ISIS. These sets of users are identified based on a prior study and a campaign aimed at shutting down ISIS Twitter accounts. These users have engaged with known ISIS accounts at least once during 2014-2015 and are still active as of 2021. Some of them have directly supported the ISIS users and their tweets by retweeting them, and some of the users that have quoted tweets of ISIS, have uncertain connections to ISIS seed accounts. This study and the dataset represent a unique approach to analyzing ISIS data. Although much research exists on ISIS online activities, few studies have focused on individual accounts. Our approach to validating accounts as well as developing a framework for differentiating accounts' functionality (e.g., propaganda versus operational planning) offers a foundation for future research. We perform some descriptive statistics and preliminary analyses on our collected data to provide deeper insight and highlight the significance and practicality of such analyses. We further discuss several cross-disciplinary potential use cases and research directions.


Pentagon releases footage of deadly Kabul drone strike

Al Jazeera

The Pentagon for the first time publicly released drone footage of a botched strike in Kabul that killed 10 members of a family, including seven children, amid the chaotic US withdrawal from the country. The footage was initially obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times and was subsequently released by US Central Command on Thursday. It appears to underscore how, by the Pentagon's own account, limited intelligence, a heightened state of alert, and rushed decision-making led to the killing of civilians. The fuzzy footage, which officials told the newspaper was recorded by two MQ-9 Reaper drones, shows the moments before the fatal drone strike on a car in a courtyard in Kabul on August 29. One segment of footage appears to show a shorter, blurry figure in white next to a taller figure in black in the courtyard as the targeted car backs in to park, according to the analysis by the Times.


Kabul drone attack: US advocates decry 'impunity, secrecy'

Al Jazeera

Washington, DC – The United States is sending a "dangerous and misleading message" by failing to hold any US military personnel responsible for a Kabul drone attack that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, human rights advocates have said. Calls for accountability for the deadly bombing on August 29 grew on Tuesday, a day after US media outlets first reported that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had accepted a recommendation from top commanders not to punish any members of the military. Rights groups also urged President Joe Biden's administration to do more to help the survivors of the attack in the Afghan capital to relocate to the US. The bombing targeted the car of Zemari Ahmadi, who worked for US-based aid organisation Nutrition and Education International (NEI), killing him and nine of his family members. "I've been beseeching the US government to evacuate directly-impacted family members and NEI employees for months because their security situation is so dire," Steven Kwon, founder and president of NEI, said in a statement.


No U.S. troops to be punished over deadly Kabul drone strike

The Japan Times

Washington – The Pentagon said Monday that no U.S. troops or officials would face disciplinary action for a drone strike in Kabul in August that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children. Spokesman John Kirby said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had received a high-level review of the strike that made no recommendation of accountability. "He approved their recommendations," Kirby said. "The secretary is not … calling for additional accountability measures." "There was not a strong enough case to be made for personal accountability," Kirby added.


US will not punish troops for deadly Kabul drone attack

Al Jazeera

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided against disciplining any members of the United States military for an August drone attack in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, the New York Times and several US news outlets reported. An internal Pentagon review concluded last month that the August 29 bombing in the Afghan capital did not violate the laws of war and was not caused by misconduct or criminal negligence. The New York Times first reported on Austin's decision on Monday, citing an unidentified senior Pentagon official who said the defence secretary had approved a recommendation from two US military commanders not to discipline any personnel involved in the attack. The Washington Post, NBC News, and The Associated Press later confirmed the decision, also citing unidentified US officials. Asked about the investigation during a news briefing on Monday afternoon, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby did not directly confirm the media outlets' reports.


Opinion

#artificialintelligence

Hassan Tetteh has one of the coolest-sounding jobs in medicine. His official title is Warfighter Health Mission Chief for the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The Pentagon established the JAIC, or "Jake" as he pronounces it, in 2018 to ensure that America's combat operations don't fall behind rivals in using machine learning to enhance troop readiness, cybersecurity, joint maneuvers and "lethality." Dr. Tetteh, 49, heads the JAIC's health mission. A decorated Navy captain, he's also a cardiothoracic surgeon who has deployed in Afghanistan and on warships in the Persian Gulf as well as at Walter Reed hospital.