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Opium

Afghan girl coders design games to fight opium and inequality

HERAT, Afghanistan: Think Super Mario Bros, but with an Afghan twist. This is how Afghanistan’s first generation of female coders explain their abilities as game-makers after uploading more than 20 games on digital app stores this year. More than 20 young women in the western city of Heart have established themselves as computer experts, building apps and websites as well as tracking down bugs in computer code. Like the team of Afghan schoolgirls who rose to fame last year when they competed in a robotics competition…

Afghan farmers stick to growing opium in the face of less lucrative options

KANDAHAR: Afghan farmers are busy in their poppy fields as the annual opium harvest begins, underscoring the government’s failure to stamp out a crop that yields much of the world’s supply of heroin. Aided by corrupt bureaucrats, smugglers and Taliban fighters, the farmers help maintain an annual supply of about 9,000 metric tons to international markets, producing bumper crops despite government efforts to deter cultivation. “We don’t get enough money if we grow wheat or other crops,” said Mohammad Nadir, 35, as he…

Opium, Bananas, animals banned for Hong Kong military parade

HONG KONG: Opium, umbrellas and fruit were all banned for reporters covering Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to a military parade in Hong Kong on Friday, on a peculiarly exhaustive list of items considered too dangerous to bring along. Xi was visiting a People's Liberation Army airfield in northern Hong Kong, one of the most highly anticipated events during his landmark three-day visit to mark 20 years since the city was handed back to China by Britain. Ahead of the parade, journalists were sent written…

Afghan opium cultivation jumps 10% in 2016: UN

KABUL: Afghanistan saw a 10 percent jump in opium cultivation this year, a sharp rise owing to favourable weather, growing insecurity and a drop in international support for counter-narcotics operations, the UN said Sunday. Cultivation dropped last year owing to drought conditions but it has been on the rise in the past decade, fuelling the Taliban insurgency and spurring a growing crisis of drug addiction despite costly US-led counter-narcotics programmes. High levels of cultivation this year meant the total opium…