So much for a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. Now we're bombing hospitals

GlobalPost
An Afghan child receives treatment at an Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in the northern city of Kunduz, May 21, 2015.
SHAH MARAI

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Need to know:

So much for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Now we're bombing hospitals.

An attack on the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz province yesterday has drawn a sharp international outcry. It isn't hard to understand why. Among the 19 people killed in the attack were patients and staff members, including three children. An additional 37 people were wounded. 

Many died in fires ignited by the bombs that continued to burn hours later. One nurse, Lajos Zoltan Jecs, described in an MSF statement seeing the bodies of six patients burning in their beds. “There are no words for how terrible it was,” he said.

The US says it targeted Taliban strongholds in the area and that there may have been collateral damage to the MSF hospital. In other words, they didn't mean it. The acting governor of Kunduz said Taliban had been using the hospital as a firing ground — suggesting that an attack on the hospital could have been justified. 

But MSF has roundly denied that claim — meaning an attack on the hospital was, as the UN high commissioner for human rights said, “utterly tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal.” Moreover, MSF says that the bombardment went on for 30 minutes after Kabul and Washington were notified. 

The US says an investigation is underway. MSF wants an independent inquiry.

Meanwhile, Kunduz remains the scene of fierce fighting since the Taliban seized control a week ago. Except now there will be far fewer doctors and nurses to treat the wounded. MSF has closed its hospital and shipped all its staff out. 

Want to know:

In the latest twist in Uruguay’s haphazard legal marijuana rollout, the country’s government has awarded two companies permits to grow government pot, and said the weed will be available for sale in pharmacies within eight months.

Announced late Thursday, the move comes almost two years after Uruguay passed a revolutionary law making it the first country on Earth to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis. In theory, it brings Uruguay one step closer to realizing the most radical and controversial aspect of that law: selling government-sanctioned cannabis in pharmacies across the country.

The two companies, Symbiosis and ICCorp, will be licensed to grow about 2 tons of pot each per year.

But this isn’t the first time Uruguayan officials have assured the public that legal pot will soon be available for their consumption. And Thursday’s announcement in some ways raises more questions than it answers.

Strange but true:

In the battle between shark and human, human has technology. And Australians who want to go swimming in shark-infested waters this summer are hoping that will save them. 

There has been a sharp rise in the number of shark attacks along the country's east coast this year. Existing measures to detect and deter sharks, like nets and aerial patrols, have been critized as being ineffective and dangerous.

So now experts are considering a range of options. Among them are underwater electric fences and plastic barriers that theoretically stop sharks from getting too close to shore, but don’t bother other marine life.

Also under consideration: shark-detecting "smart" buoys that send a text message to lifeguards alerting them that a shark is nearby and that they need to get swimmers out of the water, and a real-time tracking app that smartphone-using swimmers and surfers could use to see if there are sharks nearby.

Still skeptical? Try this factoid on for size: you're much more likely to drown than be killed by a shark.