‘A hunter’s hope’: Snaring birds in warring Afghanistan

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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, inspects a crane in a field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, feeds his cranes at a field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, gives water to his cranes at a field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, guides a crane towards cages at a field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, feeds his cranes at a field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, tries to catch his crane at a field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, has breakfast at his hunting field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Jan Agha, 49, an Afghan hunter, carries artificial cranes at a field in Bagram, Parwan province, Afghanistan April 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 April 2019
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‘A hunter’s hope’: Snaring birds in warring Afghanistan

  • The war has left much of the environment near Kabul devastated with uncleared mines, pollution, uncontrolled building and general neglect

BAGRAM, Afghanistan: As the early morning light breaks over the plain north of Kabul, bird hunter Jan Agha checks his snares as he has done for the past 30 years, hoping to catch a crane, using a tethered bird to lure others down to the nets.
Bird hunting is an ancient sport in Afghanistan, where local and migrating species have flocked for thousands of years and where even amid the chaos of the past 40 years of conflict, the tradition persists.
“I have learned different types of hunting from my ancestors because they were hunters too,” said 49-year-old Jan Agha, a farmer in Parwan province.
“Some of my sons have learned hunting from me and I hope to see at least two of my sons become hunters so my name is remembered and people know my sons after my death.”
The war has left much of the environment near Kabul devastated with uncleared mines, pollution, uncontrolled building and general neglect. Only in the last few years has there been an effort to restore areas like the former royal hunting grounds at Kol-e-Hashmat Khan in the city’s southwest.
Spring is the season of cranes, which the hunters try to catch alive in snares, using a specially trained tethered bird whose cries attract passing flocks.
“I like this crane because it won’t be silent when the other big groups of cranes come, and it always forces them to come down. I like it because he is really a hunter bird.”
With environmental controls virtually non-existent, there is little check on how many birds are caught or shot and Jan Agha, who started hunting when he was around 12 or 13, reckons he has taken more than 1,000 cranes and an uncountable number of quails, ducks hawks and sparrows.
The birds are usually taken to shops near the town of Bagram or to Kabul itself, where there is a popular bird market in the center of the old city.
For Jan Agha, hunting is a relief, taking him out of the daily round and into the harshly beautiful countryside, where groups of hunters set out in the night, picnicking at night in the desert before testing their skills at dawn.
“The pleasure of hunting is to be in open space. I like the mountain, desert, shotgun and being awake during the night to hunt,” he said. “The pleasure of hunting is to be a success in it. A hunter’s hope is hunting. Being a success in every job in the world has a special pleasure.”


Weinstein in search of a lawyer as trial approaches

Updated 19 June 2019
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Weinstein in search of a lawyer as trial approaches

  • He is accused of harassment by more than 80 women
  • Weinstein’s first lawyer withdrew from the case in January

NEW YORK: The main lawyer for Harvey Weinstein has asked a judge to be removed from the case, leaving the disgraced movie mogul without counsel as his sexual assault trial approaches in September.
Weinstein has been charged over the alleged assaults of two women — a rape in 2013 and an incident of forced oral sex in 2006. He faces life in prison if convicted, and is also accused of sexual misconduct with dozens of other women.
Weinstein’s first lawyer, Benjamin Braufman, withdrew in January after which Weinstein hired two other high-profile attorneys, Ronald Sullivan and Jose Baez.
Sullivan, who also teaches at Harvard, pulled out in May after coming under fierce criticism on campus for defending the man seen as giving rise to the #MeToo movement.
Once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Weinstein has been accused of harassment and assault by more than 80 women, including stars such as Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd.
Then last week Baez asked to withdraw from the case, New York news outlets reported. He did so in a letter to State Supreme Court Justice James Burke, who is overseeing the case.
“First, Mr. Weinstein has engaged in behavior that makes this representation unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements,” Baez wrote.
“For example, he has engaged outside counsel to communicate with myself and my co-counsel and has decided to have another attorney threaten legal action against this firm,” Baez said, adding that since May 15 or earlier Weinstein has known that Baez probably could not stay with the case.
Neither Baez, nor a spokesman for Weinstein nor the Manhattan prosecutor’s office responded to AFP’s requests for comment.
No hearing is scheduled until September 9, when jury selection is scheduled to begin in a trial that promises to be a media sensation.
It is not clear if the trial might be postponed because of Weinstein’s lawyer problems.