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After Syria, Trump Decides to Remove More Than 14,000 Troops From Afghanistan

White House insiders said Mattis was not pleased by Trump's decision to start pulling U.S. forces out of Afghanistan.

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USA, Afghanistan, Troops, peace talks
U.S. troops listen to a security briefing before leaving their base in Logar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 5, 2018. VOA

President Donald Trump is considering withdrawing roughly half of the more than 14,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, senior administration officials say.

Under the reported plan, about 7,000 U.S. troops would start coming home in January, and the rest would exit in the coming months in a phased drawdown.

There was no comment from the Pentagon or U.S. Central Command.

The U.S. troops are part of a non-combat NATO force whose primary mission is training and advising Afghan forces in taking over responsibility for security in their country.

Afghanistan, afghan, USA, Troop
US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the US embassy in Kabul. VOA

The comments from the U.S. officials came a day after Trump’s stunning announcement that the U.S. would pull its troops out of Syria.

“I think it shows how serious the president is about wanting to come out of conflicts,” one official told The Wall Street Journal. “I think he wants to see viable options about how to bring conflicts to a close.”

The Trump administration has been looking for a negotiated settlement of the war in Afghanistan, which would include talks with the Taliban.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary James Mattis, who announced Thursday that he would step down in February, said the conflicts in Afghanistan have been going on for almost 40 years and enough is enough.

Donald Trump, Prince, troops
U.S. President Donald Trump sits for an exclusive interview with Reuters journalists in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. VOA

“It’s time for everyone to get on board,” Mattis said, and support those who are seeking peace, including the U.N. and the presidents of Afghanistan and India.

But some White House insiders said Mattis was not pleased by Trump’s decision to start pulling U.S. forces out of Afghanistan.

Also Read: U.S. Considers Total Withdrawal of Forces from Syria

Mattis did not specially mention Afghanistan in his resignation letter to Trump, but said the president has the “right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours.” (VOA)

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10 State Attorneys General to Sue Trump Administration from Making Changes to U.S. Endangered Species Act

About 1,600 species are currently protected by the act and the administration says streamlining regulations is the best way

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FILE - Monarch butterflies cling to a plant at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California, Dec. 30, 2014. VOA

At least 10 state attorneys general say they will join conservation groups in suing the Trump administration from making drastic changes to the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

U.S. officials have announced a revision of the nearly 50-year-old set of laws that environmentalists credit with saving numerous animals, plants and other species from extinction.

About 1,600 species are currently protected by the act and the administration says streamlining regulations is the best way to ensure those animals stay protected.

“The revisions finalized with this rule-making fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

Attorney Generals, Trump, Endangered Species
At least 10 state attorneys general say they will join conservation groups in suing the Trump administration from making drastic changes to the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Pixabay

The proposed changes include considering the economic cost when deciding to save a species from extinction. The law currently says the cost to logging or oil interests will have no bearing on whether an animal, bird, or other species deserves protection.

The revised act would also end blanket protection for a species listed as threatened — a designation that is one step away from declaring an animal population as endangered — and reduce some wildlife habitat.

Conservation and wildlife groups took little time in denouncing the changes, calling them President Donald Trump’s gift to logging, ranching, and oil industries.

‘Beginning of the end’

Also Read- Vaping Industry Group Sues U.S. Government to Delay Upcoming Review of Thousands of E-Cigarettes on Market

“These changes crash a bulldozer through the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife,” the Center for Biological Diversity’s Noah Greenwald said. “For animals like the wolverine and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end.”

The center’s Brett Hartl added that putting a price tag on whether a species deserves to live opens the door for political interference.

“You have to be really naive and cynical and disingenuous to pretend otherwise. That’s the reason Congress prohibited the Fish and Wildlife Service from doing that. It’s a science question — is a species going extinct, yes or no?”

Attorney Generals, Trump, Endangered Species
U.S. officials have announced a revision of the nearly 50-year-old set of laws that environmentalists credit with saving numerous animals, plants and other species from extinction. Pixabay

Attorneys general from 10 states along with environmental groups say they will take the administration to court to preserve the Endangered Species Act. Several congressional Democrats are also denouncing the changes.

Also Read- Naga-inhabited Areas To Be Integrated By Nagaland Government

Republican President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973 as part of the new environmental awareness that was sweeping the country in the early 1970s, which included Earth Day and the Clear Water and Air acts. (VOA)