Patterico's Pontifications


No One Seems Sure How Many Americans Remain In Afghanistan, But Whatever You Do, Don’t Say They’re “Stranded”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:08 pm

[guest post by Dana]

President Biden yesterday, facing pressure from both sides of the aisle and expected pressure from European allies, has confirmed that he is involved in discussions about extending the Aug. 31 deadline:

“There’s discussions going on among us and the military about extending,” he said. “Our hope is we will not have to extend.”

However, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen warned that Aug. 31 deadline is a “red line” and that there would be consequences if Americans stayed past the deadline:

“So if they extended, that means they are extending occupation,” he said. While there is no need for that, I think it will deteriorate the relation, it will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, so it will provoke a reaction.”

While “the Pentagon said Monday that the U.S. has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of approximately 37,000 people from Afghanistan since August 14, with about 10,400 of them airlifted out over the weekend,” the White House doesn’t really know how many Americans remain in Afghanistan:

“We don’t have a precise number and there’s a reason for that,” Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told CNN, adding that is partly because the current count “includes people who may have left the country, who may have left over the course of the last six months.”

“What we’re doing is working to identify how many Americans are there,” Bedingfield said.

Moreover, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby was vague about the number of Americans still needing to be rescued:

Kirby was similarly vague when asked to provide the number of Americans who have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14, describing the total as “very fluid” and changing “nearly by the hour.”

“We think that, overall, we’ve been able to evacuate several thousand Americans,” Kirby said. “And I’d be reticent to get … more specific than that.”

Estimates have ranged from 5,000 to 15,000.

And today White House press secretary Jen Psaki got defensive when asked about Americans “stranded” in Afghanistan:

Apparently, Politico is not in agreement with Psaki:

Call me irresponsible, but if I were an American in Afghanistan today, with the Taliban everywhere and in control of pretty much everything, and I couldn’t make it safely to the airport, I’m positive that I would feel “stranded,” and terrified, and overwhelmed by a desperate fear that no one was going to get me out of there. But that’s just me. You be the judge:

An American woman called a US representative and tearfully begged for help getting out of Taliban-run Afghanistan.

Rep. Carol Miller of West Virginia on Saturday posted a recording of the call to Twitter. In the recording, a woman’s voice is heard, wavering and breaking up at times over her own tears.

“Hour by hour, it’s getting more difficult,” she said.

“Even when the cars pass by I feel like they’re gonna stop by that door out there, the Taliban, and they’re gonna come and they’re gonna kill us,” she continued, crying in between words.

“I’m really scared,” she said, pleading for help before the audio trails off.

Miller said in her tweet that the woman was “attacked each time she tried to reach the airport.” Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment asking for more information about the attacks.

P.S. CNN is reporting that the US military is giving President Biden their own deadline for decision about whether he will extend the Aug. 31 deadline:

The US military is advising President Joe Biden that he must decide by Tuesday whether to extend the evacuation in Afghanistan beyond August 31, according to a defense official directly familiar with the discussions.

Military advisers have told the White House that the decision must be made by Tuesday in order to have enough time to withdraw the 5,800 troops currently on the ground, as well as their equipment and weapons. If the President agrees, the military anticipates “a few more days” of trying to evacuate as many people as possible before the drawdown of US forces begins, possibly at the end of this week.


Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine Approved By FDA

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:12 am

[guest post by Dana]

One would think that Americans who refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine because they had not yet been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and were thus considered “experimental,” would be lining up today to get the Pfizer vaccine now that it has been granted full approval by the FDA (for people age 16 and older). But I think one would be foolish to think that:


New York City Schools: Vaccine Mandate for all Employees, No Opt-Out Option Available

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:07 am

[guest post by Dana]

Tightening up protocol, or as one official called it, “another layer of protection for our kids”:

All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, officials said Monday, ramping up pandemic protections as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month.

The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. The new policy marks the first no-option vaccination mandate for a broad group of city workers in the nation’s most populous city, though Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that coaches and students in football, basketball and other “high-risk” sports would have to get inoculated before play begins.

Now, about 148,000 school employees — and contractors who work in schools — will have to get at least a first dose by Sept. 27, according to an announcement from the Democratic mayor and the city health and education departments.

I suspect this is an unpopular opinion here with a number of commenters, but if I were a parent with a kid in NYC schools, I would very much appreciate the extra layer of protection. In general, the more vaccinated adults the better!

Meanwhile, Michael Mulgrew, president of NYC’s United Federation of Teachers union, responded to the mandate as one would expect:

Our first priority is keeping our kids safe and the schools open. The city’s teachers have led the way on this issue, with the great majority already vaccinated.

While the city is asserting its legal authority to establish this mandate, there are many implementation details, incl[uding] provisions for medical exceptions, that by law must be negotiated with the UFT and other unions, and if necessary, resolved by arbitration.

De Blasio said the city would indeed negotiate with the unions but that, no matter the outcome of those negotiations, the first-dose deadline will remain in place:

De Blasio said the city would start bargaining this week with the unions over specifics, and officials hope for agreements. But the mayor said the city intends to implement the requirement Sept. 27, with or without a deal.


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