[guest post by Dana]
I hope that you had a good week. We are not in Afghanistan so that alone should make us eternally thankful despite other tribulations we might be facing. May this weekend be a respite from the outside world, and in your corner of the world, a time where you can just breathe.
First news item
President Biden: "I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world." pic.twitter.com/6D1AjlpCyt
— The Hill (@thehill) August 20, 2021
“I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world,” Biden said following remarks on the ongoing evacuation effort in Afghanistan.
“The fact of the matter is I have not seen that. As a matter of fact, the opposite I’ve gotten,” Biden added. “The exact opposite. We’re acting with dispatch. We’re acting, committing, doing what we said we would do.”
In a meeting with her party’s top brass, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that developments in the country were “bitter”.
She said however that once the United States decided to withdraw from Afghanistan, it was clear that Germany and other allies had to follow suit.
The decision was “ultimately made by the Americans”, and “domestic political reasons” were partly to blame, said the chancellor, according to participants in the meeting.
“The troop withdrawal sparked a domino effect” that culminated in the Taliban sweeping back into power, said Merkel…
The leader of her party had harsher words, calling the entire Afghanistan operation a disaster for NATO.
“It is the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding, and we’re standing before an epochal change,” said Armin Laschet, who is the conservative candidate to succeed Merkel as chancellor in September’s elections…
Britain has also slammed the American decision to leave Afghanistan, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warning on Friday that the Taliban’s resurgence would create a breeding ground for extremists that threatened the world.
“Of course Al-Qaeda will probably come back,” he said, warning that would lead to “a security threat to us and our interests”.
“I felt that that was a mistake to have done it that way, that we’ll all, as an international community, probably pay the consequences of that,” Wallace said of the Doha agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban.
Second news item
“We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban thus far,” Biden said during a press conference at the White House. “They’ve allowed them to go through. It’s in their interest for them to go through, so we know of no circumstance where American citizens carrying American passports are trying to get through to the airport. But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it they get to the airport.”
.@DavidMuir: "The president said he has no intelligence that the Americans have not been able to get [to the Kabul airport]. The question, obviously—does that square with reporting on ground?"@IanPannell: "I mean—just totally not."
— ABC News (@ABC) August 20, 2021
“No indication Americans can’t get to the airport” @POTUS
Simply not accurate https://t.co/zxfaehcENr
— Ian Pannell (@IanPannell) August 20, 2021
This is incredible reporting on the outskirts of the Kabul airport by @clarissaward that shows the disconnect btw what the US is saying – they’ll get out Afghan SIVs/refugee applicants etc & the Taliban are allowing safe passage to the airport – & what’s happening on the ground. https://t.co/ggTzhjuPZy
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) August 18, 2021
"Judging by what I'm seeing here at the airport, I don't think the US right now is able to deliver on any promise really, because despite whatever the best intentions might be, the reality is it's chaos," @clarissaward tells @andersoncooper.
"There isn't a plan in place." pic.twitter.com/8trcV3Mra1
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) August 21, 2021
CNN's @clarissaward contradicts Biden's claim that Americans are not having difficulty getting to the airport:
"We had difficulty getting into the airport. Working out how to get to the airport is like a Rubik’s cube." pic.twitter.com/naDGVUaZ9A
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 20, 2021
“President Biden just described a very orderly process, an American airlift that is going efficiently, that there’s a negotiation with the Taliban, that it may be difficult but Afghans can get to the airport and then get on these flights and then come to places like Doha,” said Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, Mediaite reported. “It is far more chaotic than that.”
It’s like the administration doesn’t know the internet exists…
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Friday that Americans trying to leave Afghanistan have been beaten by Taliban fighters, according to several people who participated in a briefing call with Austin and other top officials.
Austin’s remarks to House members appeared to directly contradict President Joe Biden’s assessment from minutes earlier, in which Biden said the U.S. was not aware of Americans having trouble getting through Taliban checkpoints and to the airport in Kabul — the only evacuation point in the country that is not controlled by the Taliban.
Third news item
President Joe Biden told key allies in June that he would maintain enough of a security presence in Afghanistan to ensure they could continue to operate in the capital following the main U.S. withdrawal, a vow made before the Taliban’s rapid final push across the country, according to a British diplomatic memo seen by Bloomberg.
Biden promised U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, England, that “critical U.S. enablers” would remain in place to keep Kabul safe following the drawdown of NATO forces, the note said. British officials determined the U.S. would provide enough personnel to ensure that the U.K. embassy in Kabul could continue operating.
I think he needs to stop talking, at the very least.
Fourth news item
Mississippi’s poison control center has seen an increase in calls of people taking ivermectin, including versions of the deworming drug intended for livestock, to treat or prevent COVID-19, according to state health officials.
The Mississippi Health Department took to social media Friday to issue a warning about the phenomenon, which has been reported throughout the pandemic.
“Do not use ivermectin products made for animals,” it said in a Facebook post…
“At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers,” stated the alert, which did not specify the number of total calls.
Fifth news item
The Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt outside a door of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot has been formally exonerated after an internal investigation, according to a department memo obtained by NBC News.
The officer, whose name has not been released, opened fire on Babbitt as she and a mob of other Trump supporters tried to forcefully enter the Capitol…
The Justice Department announced in April that no charges were being brought against the officer. The exoneration by the Capitol Police wraps up the last remaining investigation into the incident.
Sixth news item
Doctors and nurses from metro Atlanta’s major hospital systems all but begged Georgians Thursday morning to get vaccinated and take other steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, sharing stories of full emergency rooms and long wait times for patients needing care.
Hours later, Gov. Brian Kemp announced he had signed an executive order blocking cities from forcing private businesses to enact mask rules, mandate vaccines or take other actions to mitigate the coronavirus.
Seventh news item
Biden is now getting strong, bipartisan pushback from lawmakers in Congress, who are urging him to rescue Americans stranded behind Taliban lines in Afghanistan. In a letter to the president on Thursday, 53 senators asked the “Administration to assist with the passage of individuals to the airport to safety — both those within Kabul and those outside of the capital — as well as to consider cases where Afghans fleeing quickly may not have been able to collect or gather appropriate documents.”
One of the letter’s signatories, Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), said in a separate statement that Biden should give “American troops the power to push back the airport perimeter and create safe, American-controlled corridors to the airport. We cannot wait for Americans to find their own way. Go get them. It’s the duty of the commander-in-chief.”
Eighth news item
The White House’s readout of a call between Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron on the crisis in Afghanistan leaves out an impassioned plea from the French president that the US and its allies have a “moral responsibility” to evacuate Afghan allies.
The French government’s readout of the conversation was released on Friday, a day after the call took place, and indicates that Macron emphasised ensuring the safe evacuation of Afghan citizens who assisted American and European troops over the past 20 years at great risk to themselves and their families.
According to the readout, Macron described the mission to evacuate allies as a “moral responsibility” and told Biden: “We cannot abandon them.”
The Élysée said Macron “underlined the absolute need to ensure rapid and concrete coordination among allies on the ground to continue the evacuations”.
The White House version, however, made no mention of a “moral responsibility” to evacuate Afghan allies.
“They lauded the tireless efforts of their personnel working closely together in Kabul on the evacuation of their citizens, the brave Afghans who have stood by us and our Nato partners, and other vulnerable Afghan nationals,” the White House said in a brief description of the call.
“They underscored the importance of continued close coordination among allies and democratic partners on Afghanistan, including through multilateral fora, on the provision of humanitarian assistance and support for refugees.”
Asked about the difference, the White House just referred the Guardian back to the readout.
May we all have someone to hold hands with:
Sea otters hold hands while they sleep so they don't drift apart, a behavior known as rafting.
— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) May 22, 2020
Have a good weekend.