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US Military to Withdraw 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan

In September 2017, Trump announced the US would send 3,000 extra troops to the country amid a shift of strategy

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Not concerned about Apple's stock price slump: Trump. VOA

The Donald Trump administration has ordered the US military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, a move that is likely to plunge the war-torn country further into chaos.

President Trump made the decision to pull out the troops — about half the number the US has in Afghanistan now — at the same time he decided to pull American forces out of Syria, a defence official was cited as saying by the New York Times on Thursday.

The withdrawal of the troops could take months and the order marked a significant departure from Trump’s August 2017 decision to slightly increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan and keep them in place with conditions on the ground dictating withdrawal, reports say.

The Afghanistan directive also came as the US was attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban to end the 17-year-old war. According to the Times, the abrupt troop withdrawal decision stunned Afghan officials, who said they had not been briefed on the plans.

The President’s orders on Syria and Afghanistan led to the resignation on Thursday of his Pentagon chief James Mattis, who disagreed with him on a hasty withdrawal from both countries.

Trump’s decision was also met with opposition by some of his senior Cabinet officials, including outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton.

The Times said that the troop withdrawals and the resignation of Mattis leaves a murky picture for what is next in the US’ longest war and they come as Afghanistan continues to witness spasms of violence in its capital Kabul and other important areas.

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U.S. President Donald Trump. VOA

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of which are present as part of a larger NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. Any withdrawal would be complicated by the fact that the US is part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission.

Senior Afghan officials and Western diplomats in Kabul woke up to the shock of the news on Friday. Several of them said that they had received no indication in recent days that the Americans would pull troops out.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that any withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan would be a “high risk strategy” which could reverse US progress in the region and pave the way towards a “second 9/11”.

Trump had repeatedly before his election campaign in 2016, publicly advocated leaving Afghanistan — where US forces have been since 2001.

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However, in 2017 he indicated he would keep boots on the ground in the country indefinitely to prevent the country’s collapse amid a Taliban resurgence.

American-led combat operations against the group officially ended in 2014, but in the years since the group’s power and reach has soared.

In September 2017, Trump announced the US would send 3,000 extra troops to the country amid a shift of strategy. (IANS)

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US Government Begins Probe into Google Over its Labour Practices

"Four of our colleagues took a stand and organised for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google's Code of Conduct, which ends: 'And remember... don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right -- speak up.' When they did, Google retaliated against them," the employee activist group wrote in the blog post

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Google Logo. Pixabay

The US government has launched a probe into Google over its labour practices following a complaint from four employees who have been fired by the tech giant.

The four workers who filed a lawsuit against the company last week, claimed they were fired from Google for engaging in legally protected labour organizing, reports CNN Business.

The National Labor Relations Board has begun a formal probe into the complaint.

The tech giant has been accused of “union busting” and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked four employees for allegedly violating the company’s data security policies.

In a statement, Google said it dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of its longstanding data security policies.

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US begins probe into Google’s labour practices. Pixabay

“No one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities,” said the company on Monday.

Google is in the midst of controversy over its strained relationship with employees.

In an earlier blog post on Medium, an employee activist group, “Google Walkout for Real Change”, said that the company is illegally retaliating against prospective union organisers.

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“Four of our colleagues took a stand and organised for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google’s Code of Conduct, which ends: ‘And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right — speak up.’ When they did, Google retaliated against them,” the employee activist group wrote in the blog post.

The new CEO of Alphabet Sundar Pichai faces extreme challenges as Google stares at several high-profile external probes into its alleged anti-trust market and data practices — from the US to the European Union regulators — including internal tensions with staff over discrimination at work and HR transparency. (IANS)