The northern Afghan town of Char Bolak is guarded by the Critical Infrastructure Police, an auxiliary police program. The U.S. is increasingly relying on ad hoc local militias to fight the Taliban, but residents and government officials have concerns about the militias.
NATO officials say they have reversed a disturbing trend in northern Afghanistan.
In 2009 and 2010, Taliban insurgents made inroads across the north of the country, which had been secure for years. NATO says that last year it brought the north back under control, but Afghan officials say it's thanks to one of the most controversial American tactics here: the use of ad hoc local militias.
A screen shot from Ethical Oil's OurDecision.ca campaign, which calls on Canadians to write to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver asking him to ban foreigners and "their local puppet groups" from appearing before ongoing public hearings for a new pipeline project.
Yet another foreign government has accused Americans of meddling in its internal affairs. It says U.S. donors are bankrolling local political activists, and it may be time for a crackdown on the political influence of outsiders.
The oil industry and environmentalists are fighting over the Keystone XL pipeline, and in this election year, President Obama is caught in the middle.
The industry says the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, would create jobs. Environmentalists worry it will lead to more pollution. Obama has until next month to make a decision, and that has both sides lobbying heavily.