Taliban Celebrates after US Completes Withdrawal from Afghanistan – The Taliban is celebrating its victory in Afghanistan over the Western-backed government and NATO forces, following the final departure of US troops from Kabul’s airport. Hamid Karzai International airport – the scene of panic, bloodshed, and a humiliating retreat for foreign military forces in recent days – was toured by Taliban commanders and their entourages, Tuesday. “Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters from the runway of the airport. Celebratory gunfire could be heard as fighters picked through abandoned hangars, observing fleets of aircraft, armored vehicles, and other military equipment left behind in the haste to escape the United States’ longest running war. Before the last US troops left, they disabled military equipment they were abandoning, including a high-tech missile defense system – the same one used to intercept an Islamic State rocket attack a day earlier – a US general said.
Dozens Killed in Floods from Hurricane Ida Remnants – A day after catastrophic levels of rain hit states from Maryland to Connecticut, areas affected by floods and tornadoes, the cleanup began. Hurricane Ida’s remnants brought historic levels of rain to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region Wednesday into Thursday. The storm killed at least 48 people across the region, according to official reports as of Friday morning. Officials say 25 people in New Jersey, 13 people in New York City, three in New York’s Westchester County, five in Pennsylvania, and one each in Connecticut and Maryland died as a result of the storm. One flooding victim was just 2 years old, the New York Police Department said.
WH Refuses to Discuss Biden Call with Former Afghan President – The White House refused to address leaked details of a conversation between President Joe Biden and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani revealing concerns about the government collapse as early as July. “I’m not going to get into private diplomatic conversations or leaked transcripts of phone calls,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday when asked about the report. The Reuters report revealed details of the transcript of the July 23 conversation, where Biden urged Ghani to show the world they were competing militarily with the Taliban. “There is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture,” he said to Ghani, urging him to try to change the narrative. The report demonstrates that Biden knew the conditions in Afghanistan were going poorly, even though he publicly signaled confidence in the government’s defense against the Taliban and the White House has repeated that no one could have known Afghanistan could have fallen so quickly.
Manchin Says to Hit Brakes on $3.5 Trillion Spending Plan – Key moderate Senator Joe Manchin said fellow Democrats should “hit the pause button” on a $3.5 trillion package incorporating the bulk of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda — presenting a clear challenge to the effort by party leaders to get the tax-and-spending plan through the evenly divided Senate in the coming weeks. The West Virginia Democrat, who often splits with his party and works with Republicans, said this week that “runaway inflation” along with national security uncertainty after the troubled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan necessitates a go-slow approach and possible rethinking of the plan.
ISIS Member Pleads Guilty in Grisly Murders – A British-born man who was a member of a team of Islamic State militants in Syria nicknamed “The Beatles” and accused of beheading American hostages pleaded guilty on Thursday to eight U.S. criminal charges including lethal hostage taking and conspiracy to support terrorists. London-born Alexanda Kotey is one of two Islamic State members who were held in Iraq by the U.S. military before being flown to the United States to face trial on terrorism charges. under a tentative arrangement between U.S. and British authorities. Kotey could be transferred to Britain after 15 years’ imprisonment. The Justice Department said in a statement that given that Kotey agreed to life imprisonment without parole, if the sentence he serves in the U.K. is less than life for any reason, Kotey agreed “to be transferred back to the United States to serve the remainder of his sentence.”
Covid Hospitalization Down for First Time Since June – The weekly average number of hospital admissions due to COVID-19 has dropped in the last week for the first time since the end of June, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS data shows that the seven-day average of new daily admissions with confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped by 2.4% compared to the week before with 12,280 admissions, which was the first time a drop has been recorded since June.
FBI: 60% of Hate Crimes Target Jews –Almost 60 percent of hate crimes committed in the United States in 2020 targeted people of Jewish descent, making it the ethnic group most affected by these acts, according to an FBI report released on Monday. Despite this high figure, the US intelligence service notes that the number of anti-Semitic attacks has however declined compared to 2019, while hate crimes recorded an overall increase of six percent in the country. The report highlights in particular the increase in anti-Asian, anti-black and anti-white incidents, which have reached levels not seen for more than a decade.