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By Abdul Qadir Sediqi

KABUL (Reuters) - The head of the Taliban's political office in Doha and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a video conference to discuss the Afghan peace process, the Islamist group said on Tuesday, in a bid to remove hurdles in the path to peace talks.

Increasing violence and a contentious prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the Taliban have delayed talks that were to have begun in March between the insurgent group and a team mandated by Kabul.

On Twitter, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Monday's talks between the official, Mullah Baradar, and Pompeo discussed full implementation of the Doha accord and the withdrawal of foreign troops, as well as the release of prisoners, intra-Afghan talks and a reduction in fighting.

The Doha agreement, signed between the United States and Taliban in February, drew up plans for a withdrawal of foreign forces from the war-torn country in exchange for security guarantees from the insurgent group.

"Baradar once again reiterated that the Taliban are committed not to let anyone use Afghan soil (to launch attacks) against any country," Shaheen said.

Pompeo acknowledged the insurgent group had "lowered the war graph by not attacking cities and major military bases" but said more needed to be done by all parties, the spokesman added.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The Baradar-Pompeo conference came amidst U.S. media reports that American intelligence had briefed President Donald Trump about Taliban-linked fighters collecting bounties from Russia to attack foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Trump has denied getting any such briefing.

Shaheen said Baradar told Pompeo the delay in talks was because the Afghan government did not release the agreed number of prisoners.

Kabul and some foreign countries have raised concerns about the release of about 200 prisoners they say are involved in major attacks in Afghanistan.

Since the Doha pact, Taliban fighters have launched 44 attacks and killed or wounded an average of 24 civilians each day, Javid Faisal, the spokesman for the Afghan national security adviser, said on Tuesday.

Baradar told Pompeo the increased attacks were because of provocation by the government in areas under Taliban control, Shaheen added.

(Additional reporting by Orooj Hakimi; Writing by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Twitter engineers pushed to replace ‘master’ and ‘slave’ programming terms

Twitter engineers have been working since January on an internal effort to replace problematic yet commonplace programming language like “master” and “slave,” CNET reported. It’s part of a larger effort among open-source developers who have been working to remove references to slavery from the programming community.

Microsoft-owned GitHub made a similar move last month when CEO Nat Friedman said the company was replacing the term “master” with more neutral language. Regynald Augustin was one of the programmers who spearheaded the effort.

Twitter eng recently shared that we would be making the language in our code, docs, and configs more inclusive. I want to speak on how we got here and what we’ve done so far.https://t.co/87RybaAiYA

— Regynald (@negroprogrammer) July 2, 2020

As ZDNet notes, the initiative started back in 2014 with the Drupal project, which began replacing master and slave with terms like “primary” and “replica.”

In addition to phrases like “slave,” “master,” and “blacklist,” engineering teams at Twitter are recommending going a step further to change other terms that could be considered racist, ableist, or sexist, CNET reported. The list includes changing “man hours” to “person hours,” changing “blacklist” to “denylist,” and “grandfathered” to “legacy status.”

Inclusive language plays a critical role in fostering an environment where everyone belongs. At Twitter, the language we have been using in our code does not reflect our values as a company or represent the people we serve. We want to change that. #WordsMatter https://t.co/JVO8968B7K

— Twitter Engineering (@TwitterEng) July 2, 2020

The company has supported the push for more thoughtful language. “The work the team did here will inform a larger workstream underway to guide our language to be more inclusive and more human as a company,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email to The News Brig on Thursday.

UPDATE July 2nd 1:33PM ET: Added comment from Twitter

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