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Rampant corruption in Afghanistan is key issue: top general

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The top commanding officer in Afghanistan has revealed a belief that “rampant government corruption” has given the Taliban and al-Qaeda an edge in the war. The conclusion came in a recent secret document put together by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. officials told the Associated Press. Though the document requests more troops, it warns that more troops may not prevent the Taliban from taking back Afghanistan.

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Corruption in Afghanistan became public knowledge after the presidential election in Afghanistan was revealed as rigged by independent election observers. Fraud investigations discovered that 1.1 million ‘questionable votes’ were given to President Hamid Karzai, and that the subtraction of these votes was enough to push Karzai below 50 percent.

Though McChrystal states that fewer troops will bring less risks, he believes that any new deployment has a high risk of failure. The report outlines three deployment options, the largest hypothetical deployment being one of 80,000 new soldiers. There are now 67,000 American troops in Afghanistan, with 1,000 more coming in December. McChrystal prefers the ‘compromise’ option of a 40,000 troop increase.

One U.S. military official alluded to talks with the Obama administration over whether or not it is possible to ‘surge’ enough troops into the country to stop crucial corruption. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity with the Associated Press because they were not authorized to discuss publicly.

President Obama announced today that he would decide on a war strategy and a fixed number of troops “in the coming weeks.” His focus is on “making sure we’re doing a good job in building capacity on the civilian side.”


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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