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Ventilators from old car parts? Afghan girls pursue prototype amid coronavirus lockdown

The Japan Times

Kabul – On most mornings, Somaya Farooqi and four other teenage girls pile into her dad's car and head to a mechanic's workshop. They use back roads to skirt police checkpoints set up to enforce a lockdown in their city of Herat, one of Afghanistan's hot spots of the coronavirus pandemic. The members of Afghanistan's prize-winning girls' robotics team say they're on a life-saving mission -- to build a ventilator from used car parts and help their war-stricken country battle the virus. "If we even save one life with our device, we will be proud," said Farooqi, 17. Their pursuit of a low-cost breathing machine is particularly remarkable in conservative Afghanistan.


Afghanistan president says U.S. drone killed Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah, wanted over 2012 Malala Yousafzai shooting attack

The Japan Times

KABUL – President Ashraf Ghani confirmed Friday that Pakistani Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah has been killed in a U.S. drone strike. Fazlullah is believed to have ordered the failed 2012 assassination of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global symbol of the fight for girls' rights to schooling, and who later won the Nobel Peace Prize. U.S. forces targeted Fazlullah in a counterterrorism strike Thursday in eastern Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. officials said, without confirming his death. "I spoke with Prime Minister of #Pakistan Nasir ul Mulk and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and confirmed the death of Mullah Fazlullah," Ghani tweeted, adding: "His death is the result of tireless human intel led by #Afghan security agencies." Ghani added the Pakistani leaders had assured him the strike was "a great step toward building trust between the two nations," while urging them to "bring (the) Afghan Taliban residing in Pakistan to the negotiation table."


Afghan official: US drone kills Pakistan Taliban chief

FOX News

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan Defense Ministry official says a U.S. drone strike in northeastern Kunar province has killed Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah. Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish tells The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday that Fazlullah and two other insurgents were killed early Thursday morning. According to a statement attributed to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman, Lt. Col Martin O'Donnell, the U.S. carried out a "counterterrorism strike" Thursday near in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan targeting "a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization." The statement did not say whether the strike had killed anyone and did not identify Fazlullah as the target. Radmanish said the attack took place in Marawara district, near the border.


India is using facial-recognition to reunite missing children with their families

#artificialintelligence

In 2005, Danish brothers David and Christopher Mikkelsen met a young Afghan refugee called Mansour. Four months after fleeing Kabul and the Taliban with his parents and five siblings, Mansour became separated from them, ending up in Denmark with no idea what had happened to his family or where they were.


Official: US drone kills 26 Taliban in eastern Afghanistan

FOX News

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan official says two U.S. drone strikes this week hit a building where dozens of Taliban were meeting in southeastern province of Ghazni, killing 26 insurgents and wounding 22.


Afghan girls team shines at US robotics competition

Al Jazeera

A team of Afghan girls whose plight resounded with the world won a silver medal for "courageous achievement" at an international robotics contest in the United States, with judges praising the group's "can-do attitude". The First Global Challenge event in Washington ended on Tuesday, having attracted teams of teenagers from more than 150 nations. But all eyes were on the squad of girls from Afghanistan, who had twice travelled 800 kilometres to the American embassy in Kabul, only to have their visa applications turned down. They were finally granted entry with just one week to go until the event began after their story had gone viral. In an interview with Al Jazeera, before US officials decided to allow them in the country, team member Rodaba Noori said: "We wanted to show our talents to the world so they would know that we do have skills."


Trump intervenes to grant rejected Afghan girls entry to U.S. for robotics contest

#artificialintelligence

Members of a female robotics team from Afghanistan Robotic House, a private training institute, arrive from Herat province to receive visas from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 13. At the urging of President Donald Trump, U.S. officials have reversed course and decided to allow into the United States a group of Afghan girls hoping to participate in an international robotics competition next week, senior administration officials told POLITICO on Wednesday. The decision followed a furious public backlash to the news that the six teens had been denied U.S. visas. That criticism swelled as details emerged about the girls' struggle to build their robot and get visas. "The State Department worked incredibly well with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that this case was reviewed and handled appropriately," Dina Powell, Trump's deputy national security adviser for strategy, said in a statement.


Afghan girls robotics team arrives in U.S. just in time

PBS NewsHour

Members of Afghan robotics girls team chat with each others as they arrive to receive their visas from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 13, 2017. WASHINGTON -- Twice rejected for U.S. visas, an all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan arrived in Washington early Saturday after an extraordinary, last-minute intervention by President Donald Trump. The six-girl team and their chaperone completed their journey just after midnight from their hometown of Herat, Afghanistan, to enter their ball-sorting robot in the three-day high school competition starting Sunday in the U.S. capital. Awaiting them at the gate at Washington Dulles International Airport were a U.S. special envoy and Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib, who described it as a rare moment of celebration for his beleaguered nation. "Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all," Mohib said in an interview.


Finally, visas in hand, Afghan girls depart for the U.S. and a global robotics competition

Los Angeles Times

When Afghan 10th-grader Fatemeh Qaderian learned that her girls' robotics team had been denied visas to attend an international competition in Washington -- despite applying twice -- the 14-year-old said she "lost hope." "We worked hard and spent a lot of time," said Qaderian, who flew back and forth with her teammates from their hometown in western Afghanistan to apply at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. "I called my parents and told them what happened, and they were upset, too." Those emotions morphed into elation as Qaderian and her teammates boarded a plane at Kabul International Airport on Friday morning en route to next week's competition, having been granted visas thanks to last-minute intervention by the Trump administration. "It's impossible to express how excited I am," Qaderian said.


Afghan girls will be allowed into U.S. for robotics contest

PBS NewsHour

Members of Afghan robotics girls team which was denied entry into the U.S. for a competition, work on their robots in Herat province, Afghanistan. KABUL, Afghanistan -- The third time's the charm for Afghanistan's all girl robotics team, who will be allowed entry into the U.S. to compete in a competition after President Donald Trump personally intervened to reverse a decision twice denying them enter into the country. The six girls will now be able to participate next week against entrants from 157 countries. The Afghan girls have devised a ball-sorting robot, which has the ability to recognize orange and blue colors, and can move objects to put them in their correct places. This is such an important trip for us," said 15-year-old team member Lida Azizi, who was excited at the prospect of being able to compete.