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‘In Afghanistan, We Laugh Differently’

HERAT, Afghanistan — A 2017 wall calendar dangled from a nail over Kawsar Roshan’s bed on the otherwise blank wall of her room. “Best year for me” she had written, in curly script, above aerial photos of lakes and waterfalls. She drew a smiley-face next to her wobbly English letters.The out-of-date calendar was “nothing too special,” said Kawsar, though she does love waterfalls, especially Niagara Falls — which she saw with her own eyes during that best year. Kawsar, then 16, saw a lot of places as a member of Afghanistan’s first-ever girls’ robotics team. More than any other Afghan girl she knows. Or boy. Or even…

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At War: America’s Relationship With Land Mines and Cluster Munitions

At War is a newsletter about the experiences and costs of war with stories from Times reporters and outside voices.Part of my job at At War is to keep an eye on developments and trends in the arms industry that may influence how wars are fought not long from now. Some of the weapons I track are the ones I first encountered as an explosive-ordnance-disposal technician on active duty. While deployed to Iraq in 2007, I had to deal with the aftermath of cluster-munition strikes and improvised-explosive-device attacks. I have never forgotten the feeling of walking in places where both had been used, knowing what could lie…

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At War: With North Korean Threats Looming, the U.S. Army Pursues Controversial Weapons

After the Pentagon scuttled a longstanding pledge to destroy its existing cluster-munitions stockpile, the Army is moving ahead with renewed vigor to acquire at least three new foreign-made versions of the weapons for its artillery. Late last year, the Trump administration canceled a Defense Department policy that limited the military’s ability to use cluster munitions, which, at a conference on Friday in Arlington, Va., Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan attributed specifically to the threat posed by North Korea.Cluster munitions are a type of weapon that distributes smaller weapons, called submunitions or bomblets, over a targeted area. They have been condemned by lawmakers and arms-control groups for causing…

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