10,000 on ignore, Book 191, The Days of Reckoning, Part 50.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Refugee and human rights advocates say work to evacuate Afghan allies and families 'not done'
Gabe Ortiz

While the U.S. military forces are finally out of Afghanistan after two decades of war, advocates who have been working to evacuate and resettle Afghan allies and their families said during a call Tuesday that their work is only just beginning. "Our message is clear,” said Chris Purdy, Project Manager of the Veterans for American Ideals program at Human Rights First. “August 31 may be the Biden administration's deadline, but it is not ours.”

The Biden administration has informed resettlement refugee agencies—decimated under the previous administration but eager to welcome these families—to prepare to welcome 50,000 people. Americans are also readying: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service President Krish O’Mara Vignarajah said that 40,000 people have signed up at the organization’s website to volunteer in efforts in the past two weeks. “By comparison, the group gets about a dozen offers during a typical week,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
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Advocates during the call expressed concern about resources available to Afghan allies and families after arriving in the U.S. While many are here through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, the federal government has allowed others to enter the U.S. through humanitarian parole—the same process used to allow separated families to reunite here. However, “[t]hose people aren’t entitled to any of the resettlement benefits afforded formal refugees,” The Wall Street Journal said.

“Though Congress allotted $500 million for the administration to provide these people some benefits, resettlement leaders say the money won’t meet all the needs of the 50,000 people they have been told to expect,” the report continued. This means that resettlement agencies also depend on the donations of time and goods from the public, from cash to toiletries to diapers and baby formula—basically anything you’d need when leaving everything behind and starting over.

“We’re going to make it work, no matter how difficult, but I’d be lying to you if I said we aren’t concerned,” HIAS President Mark Hetfield told The Wall Street Journal.

For months, advocates—who had been pleading with the Biden administration to act quickly to evacuate allies to a U.S. territory like Guam—expressed further concern for those left behind. They said their research had identified 118,000 SIV-eligible allies and dependents still in Afghanistan following U.S. withdrawal. The number of allies eligible for protection under expanded guidelines announced earlier this summer is even more significant, at anywhere between 145,000 people, to nearly 1.1 million.

The State Department said in a statement the U.S. is among the nearly 100 nations pledging to continue evacuations from Afghanistan, with “assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country.” Whether those assurances stand the test of time wait to be seen. In a statement received by Daily Kos, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth said that we “cannot forget the brave Afghans” who remain at risk.”

“Our military and our entire nation owe these Afghans a debt of gratitude, and we have a moral obligation to not only get them to safety, but to welcome them here and make them feel at home,” Duckworth said. “We must also continue to engage diplomatically to ensure that the hard-fought gains—especially for Afghan women and girls—are not erased.” In a tweet, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chair Joaquin Castro said “[w]e’ll keep working hard to get folks home and help with resettlement.”



One recently arrived family told The Los Angeles Times that they arrived to the U.S. on July 20 with just two bags containing clothes and paperwork. Sayed Omer Sadat applied for a special visa in 2017 after overseeing the maintenance of U.S. military bases. The family left Afghanistan three days after receiving his document in July, describing to The LA Times how he’d pass through Taliban checkpoints on his way to work, “hoping no one knew he was headed to a military installation in Mazar-i-Sharif.” Like so many others, he worries about family, friends, and neighbors, telling The LA Times that “[w]e are lucky that we left Afghanistan on that day. We can just pray for Afghans left behind.”

"I have no doubt in my mind that we can rise to the occasion,” O’Mara Vignarajah said during the call. “We stand ready to welcome our Afghan brothers and sisters." Human Rights First President Mike Breen said “[w]e have thousands of allies still in danger, many thousands more who are just beginning the long process of rebuilding their lives. We are not done. We will not be done for a long, long time. Take a minute if you need one, friends. Then let’s get back to work.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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E-HXVtdXMAoTpxj
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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In April 2002, former President George W. Bush warned that insurgents were trying to undermine any peace and progress the U.S. achieved in Afghanistan.

“We know this from not only intelligence but from the history of military conflict in Afghanistan. It's been one of initial success followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure,” Bush said to the audience at Virginia Military Institute. “We're not going to repeat that mistake.”

Yet for all of the positive spin from multiple administrations, there is well-documented doubt and confusion behind the curtain.

In Craig Whitlock’s new book, the author and investigative journalist at The Washington Post looks at what went wrong in Afghanistan over the two decades the U.S. had troops there.

The Post sued the federal government to obtain previously undisclosed documents that reveal how military leaders, diplomats and other officials publicly praised U.S. progress and success in Afghanistan while privately knowing that there was no clear strategy or mission. The documents also suggest they knew the U.S. was probably not able to win.

Whitlock outlines these findings in “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War." He says when the war started after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, everyone could identify the enemy — members of al-Qaida.

“That was a pretty successful part of the mission: Within six months, by early 2002, pretty much all of al-Qaida's leadership had been killed, captured or had fled Afghanistan. At that point, the enemy was pretty amorphous,” Whitlock says. “That's where things started to go awry.”

With al-Qaida largely quelled, the Pentagon — under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s leadership — was struggling to a “remarkable degree” to clearly define who the enemy was shortly after the war began, Whitlock says he discovered in the memos obtained for “The Afghanistan Papers.”

Rumsfeld, Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney would lump together al-Qaida, the Taliban and other insurgent groups, Whitlock says, often calling them “the bad guys.”

“For instance, Rumsfeld wrote a memo to his intelligence chiefs a year or two into the war in which he said, ‘I have no visibility into who the bad guys are in Afghanistan,’ ” Whitlock says. “And frankly, that wasn't something we ever sorted out over the last two decades.”.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The US military negotiated a secret arrangement with the Taliban that resulted in Taliban members escorting groups of Americans to the gates of the Kabul airport as they sought to escape Afghanistan, according to two defense officials.

One of the officials also revealed that US special operations forces set up a "secret gate" at the airport and established "call centers" to guide Americans through the evacuation process.

The officials said Americans were notified to gather at pre-set "muster points" close to the airport where the Taliban would gather the Americans, check their credentials and take them a short distance to a gate manned by American forces who were standing by to let them inside amid huge crowds of Afghans seeking to flee.

The US troops were able to see the Americans approach with their Taliban escorts in most cases in an attempt to ensure their safety.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden: Last night the US ended its 20 years of war in Afghanistan

President Biden addressed the nation on the US ending 20 years of war in Afghanistan from the White House.

"Last night in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan. The longest war in American history. We completed one of the biggest air lifts in history with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety. That number is more than double what most experts thought were possible. No nation, no nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Only the United States had the capacity and the will and ability to do it. We did it today. The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery and selfless courage the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals," Biden said.

Biden says US began reaching out to Americans in Afghanistan in March

In an address to the nation marking the end of 20 years of war in Afghanistan, President Biden defended his administration's withdrawal and praised the country's evacuation effort.

"Since March, we reached out 19 times to Americans in Afghanistan, with multiple warnings and offers to help them leave Afghanistan, all the way back as far as March," Biden said.

"After we started the evacuation 17 days ago, we did initial outreach and analysis and identified around 5,000 Americans who decided earlier to stay in Afghanistan but now wanted to leave," he continued.

Biden said the operation ended up getting more than 5,500 Americans out of Afghanistan as well as "thousands of Afghan translators and interpreters." However, he acknowledged that some 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan but said many of them are dual residents who decided to stay.

"The bottom line, 90% of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave. For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out," the President said.

Biden: I "respectfully disagree" with those who say evacuations should have started earlier

President Biden says he disagrees with those who criticize the US' withdrawal from Afghanistan as disorderly and who say evacuations should have started earlier.

"I take responsibility for the decision," Biden said of the plan to end the mission. "Now some say, 'We should have started mass evacuations sooner,' and 'Couldn't this have, have been done in a more orderly manner?' I respectfully disagree," he said.

Biden said that there "still would have been a rush to the airport" no matter when the US began withdrawals.


"Imagine if we begun evacuations in June or July, bringing in thousands of American troops and evacuating more than 120,000 people in the middle of a civil war. There still would have been a rush to the airport, a break down in confidence and control of the government and still would have been very difficult and dangerous mission," Biden said.

The President continued: "The bottom line is there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, threats we faced. None."

Biden on Americans still in Afghanistan: We remain committed to get them out, there is no deadline

President Biden said the US will continue diplomatic efforts to evacuate the remaining Americans still in Afghanistan.

"For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline," Biden said during remarks from the White House. "We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out."
The President said that the US government believes there are about 100 to 200 Americans remaining in Afghanistan, "some with the intention to leave."

Biden said that the US is committed to getting those Americans who want to leave out and that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is leading the diplomatic efforts to do so.

"Secretary of State Blinken, is leading the continued diplomatic efforts to ensure safe passage for any American, Afghan partner or foreign national, who wants to leave Afghanistan," Biden said.

"In fact, just yesterday, the United Nation security Council passed a resolution that sent a clear message about what the international community expects the Taliban to deliver on moving forward. Notably, freedom of travel, freedom to leave," the President continued.


Biden said that the remaining Americans mostly consist of dual citizens and long-time residents who have their "family roots in Afghanistan." The President also praised efforts by US military for getting "90% of Americans who wanted to leave" Afghanistan out.

Biden on Taliban's pledge to allow departures: "We don't take them by their word alone, but by their actions"

President Biden told the American public that although the US has withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan, it will work to ensure the Taliban meet their commitments, including providing safe passage for those who want to leave the country.

Biden referenced a resolution passed by the UN Security Council yesterday for creating a "safe passage" zone for people seeking to leave from Kabul's airport.

"It sends a clear message of what the international community expects the Taliban to deliver on moving forward, notably, freedom of travel, freedom to leave," Biden said.

"Together, we're joined by over 100 countries that are determined to make sure the Taliban upholds those commitments. It will include ongoing efforts in Afghanistan to report the airport as well as overland routes, allowing for continued departure for those that want to leave, and deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan," he said.

Biden said the Taliban has made public commitments on safe passage for anyone wanting to leave including those who worked alongside Americans.

"We don't take them by their word alone, but by their actions. And we have leverage to make sure those commitments are met," Biden said.



 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden explains "guiding principle" behind Afghanistan decision

President Biden told the American public that he no longer believed "the safety and security of America" was enhanced by having troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

"The fundamental obligation of a president, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America. Not against threats of 2001 but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow. That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan," he said in an address to mark the completion of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,

"I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars a year in Afghanistan," Biden continued.

"When I was running for president, I made a commitment to the American people that I would end this war. Today I've honored that commitment," the President said.

Biden: "I was not going to extend a forever war. And I was not extending a forever exit."

President Biden offered no misgivings over his decision to end America’s longest war in forceful remarks from the White House.

"I was not going to extend a forever war. And I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden said, defending a decision that has drawn scrutiny for its execution.

Biden said the real decision in Afghanistan was "between leaving and escalating,” framing his choice to withdraw troops as the only option aside from surging more forces to the country.

“The fact is, everything has changed,” Biden said, citing the deal with the Taliban signed by his predecessor.

Biden said he takes “responsibility” for his decision to withdraw, but said he “respectfully disagrees” with those who say he should have begun mass evacuations earlier, claiming there would have been a “rush to the airport.”


"For those asking for a third decade of war, I ask, what is the vital national interest? In my view we only have one: to make sure Afghanistan can never again be used to launch an attack on our homeland," Biden said.

Biden praises military evacuation of Kabul, calling it an "extraordinary success"

President Biden, in his first address since the end of the Afghanistan war, praised the “extraordinary success” of the military evacuation, calling it “not a mission of war, but in a mission of mercy.”

"The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals,” Biden said.

Biden also spoke at length about the evacuation efforts, saying 90% of Americans who wanted to leave were able to evacuate Afghanistan, adding that about 5,500 American citizens were evacuated.

“For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline,” Biden said, adding that the United States is “committed to get them out if they want to come out.”

Biden said the administration reached out to Americans to evacuate “19 times” over the last several weeks.


Biden touted the evacuation effort, pointing to the 120,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan saying, “no nation has ever done anything like it in all of history.”

Biden on 13 fallen US service members: "We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay"

In remarks following the end of the United States' war in Afghanistan, President Biden referenced the American lives lost during the conflict's final days.

"Twenty service members were wounded in the service of this mission. Thirteen heroes gave their lives," said Biden, speaking live from the White House.

Noting that the success of America's withdrawal from Afghanistan "was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage" of the US military and diplomats, Biden promised that the 13 fallen soldiers who perished as part of the operation would not be forgotten.

Biden vows to go after terrorism and warns ISIS-K: "We are not done with you yet"

President Biden vowed to continue to go after terrorism around the globe, saying Tuesday the United States will “go after terror where it is today, not where it was two decades ago.”

“To ISIS-K we are not done with you yet,” Biden said, vowing a “tough, unforgiving, targeted, precise strategy” for last Thursday’s attack that killed 13 US service members.

Biden also said that the terror threat has metastasized from Afghanistan to around the globe, adding, “the threat from terrorism continues, but it’s changed. Our strategy needs to change too.”

The President also acknowledged the new challenges around the globe include those presented by China and Russia saying there’s nothing the two nations “would rather have and want more in this competition than for the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan."
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Defying court ruling, DeSantis Education Department docks pay of Alachua, Broward school boards
Kerry Eleveld

Despite a state court ruling clearing the way for school mask mandates, Florida education officials announced Monday they would withhold funding from two school districts that were among the first to adopt universal in-school masking: Alachua and Broward.

“The withholding of funds will continue monthly until each school board complies with state law and rule,’’ Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote on Monday.

The decision from Corcoran makes good on a threat from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had said he would dock the pay of any school officials who defied his ban on requiring masking in schools. According to the Miami Herald, school board members in Alachua County make $40,000 per year and in Broward County, $46,000.

Last week, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled DeSantis' ban on mask mandates unconstitutional and unenforceable. Eleven of the state's 67 school districts have voted to implement mask mandatesmore than half the state's students are now enrolled in schools with universal masking requirements.
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The move by DeSantis' handpicked state Board of Education is the latest in on an ongoing dispute over masking between local school boards and the Republican governor, who has made it his life's ambition to kneecap any attempt by local officials to stop the spread of COVID-19. Even though pandemic-related hospitalizations in Florida have begun to decline over the last several days, ICUs across the state are still at 95% capacity and at least nine hospitals in central Florida have run out of bed space, according to local ABC affiliate WFTV-9.

President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona have sided with the right of local school boards to decide the safest way to return to in-person schooling. Cardona said last week that states couldn't deny federal funding to public schools that implement mask mandates.

"I spoke to the superintendents of those two communities," Cardona said Sunday on Meet the Press of Broward and Alachua officials. "I let them know that we have their back. And yes, they can draw down on the [federal] funds that were promised to them so they can safely reopen schools."

On Monday, the Department of Education opened investigations into five states that have banned in-school masking requirements. Florida was not among them because recent court rulings had seemingly blocked enforcement of the ban. The move by the DeSantis administration to block pay despite last week's court ruling could trigger a federal inquiry, an option federal education officials kept on the table.

School administrators in Broward and Alachua aren't backing down from their initial decision. Both argue they are fulfilling their constitutional requirement to provide students with a safe learning environment.

In a statement, Broward County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Cartwright said, "The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff continue to be our main priorities. As such, BCPS will continue to mandate masks, knowing the data shows they help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools."
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Federal judge throws out Trump administration rule allowing the draining and filling of streams, marshes and wetlands

Many farm and business groups backed the rule, but a U.S. district judge ruled it could lead to ‘serious environmental harm’


A federal judge Monday threw out a major Trump administration rule that scaled back federal protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the United States, reversing one of the previous administration’s most significant environmental rollbacks.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez wrote that Trump officials committed serious errors while writing the regulation, finalized last year, and that leaving it in place could lead to “serious environmental harm.”

A number of business and farm groups had supported the push to replace Obama-era standards with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, on the grounds that states were better positioned to regulate many waterways and that the previous protections were too restrictive.


The ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, which applies nationwide, will afford new protections for drinking-water supplies for millions of Americans, as well as for thousands of wildlife species that depend on America’s wetland acreage......
 

Lion8286

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Biden was angry, confused and talking in circles today. Reminded me a lot of you, Marbles.
 

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