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This weekend's presidential election could determine how much longer US forces remain in Afghanistan.  Has America's longest war paved the way for real democracy?  Will violence and voter fraud compromise the outcome? Also, another Fort Hood shooting, and a secret Twitter-like messaging service created by the US to undermine Communist Cuba.

Banner image: Afghan election commission workers load ballot boxes on a car at Ghori village at the Adraskan district of Herat Province April 3, 2014. Photo: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Another Fort Hood Shooting 7 MIN, 44 SEC

Three of the victims shot yesterday at Ford Hood, Texas have died along with the shooter, who killed himself. Three others are in critical condition. In previously scheduled testimony, Army Secretary John McHugh told a Senate committee today that the shooter was a veteran of four months in Iraq without any record of injury, although he was being treated for depression. Rajiv Chandrasekaran is senior correspondent and editor at the Washington Post and co-author of a new series, examining the effects of recent wars on American soldiers.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks (@rajivscribe)

Has Democracy Come to Afghanistan? 34 MIN, 5 SEC

With Hamid Karzai termed out of office, eight candidates are running for president of Afghanistan. Some US officials claim this weekend's election will accomplish "the first, peaceful, democratic" transition of power in that country's history. But it might not turn out that way. The Taliban has already increased the level of violence, and voter fraud is predicted on what's called an "industrial" scale. Nonetheless, thousands of potential voters have showed up at rallies, and the increased participation of women reflects profound cultural change. Will the election preserve those gains by creating a government perceived as "legitimate" by Afghans and by Americans?

Rod Nordland, New York Times (@rodnordland)
Michael O'Hanlon, Brookings Institution (@MichaelEOHanlon)
Anand Gopal, New America Foundation (@anand_gopal_)
Jamie Tarabay, Al Jazeera America (@jamietarabay)

AJA on whether Afghan democracy can succeed amidst concerns of election rigging, Taliban attacks?
Al Jazeera America on mounting fears of voter fraud ahead of Afghan election
Expert views on Afghanistan's upcoming election and security situation
Gopal on Taliban being 'ripe for compromise' against withdrawal of foreign troops
Gopal's 'No Good Men among the Living: The Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes'
Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan
Nordland on Afghan election campaigns against backdrop of war, unrest
Nordland on Afghan women seeing hope in the ballot box
Tarabay on waste, mismanagement of US taxpayer money on Afghan reconstruction

Bay of Pigs in 140 Characters? 9 MIN, 14 SEC

It sounds like a fantasy TV script or a failed CIA effort, but a plan to undermine the government of Cuba was created by the US Agency for International Development. Associated Press reports -- from 1000 pages of documents and "multiple interviews"-- that USAID drew 40,000 Cubans onto a clandestine cell-phone messaging network. After building a "critical mass" with "non-controversial content," operators would introduce political issues, hoping to inspire "smart mobs" to trigger a "Cuban Spring" like those that toppled regimes in the Middle East. Freelance journalist Ann Louise Bardach is author of Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Washington and Havana.

Ann Louise Bardach, journalist and author (@albardach)

Without Fidel

Ann Louise Bardach

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