Weekend Review: Chaos in Afghanistan as Taliban Takeover Power
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is complete and prominent leaders are returning from exile. The news comes as U.S.-led war efforts which drove the group out nearly 20 years ago have been drawing to a close.
President Joe Biden vowed to follow through on his promise to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31 and end America’s longest war. His approval ratings have dropped below 50% for the first time in his presidency in the wake of the fallout, according to a new poll from NBC.
Notably, the war in Afghanistan cost the lives of more than 200,000 people, including over 70,000 civilians from Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as roughly 6,000 Americans. The U.S. spent more than $2 trillion dollars, or about $100 billion a year.
Humanitarian crisis brewing following Taliban takeover
The Taliban takeover happened over a short duration of about 10 days. Now, scores of Afghans are looking for ways out of the country, but with few options for escape. At least seven Afghans have died in their efforts to flee, and stampeding, overcrowding, and overheating contributed to some of those deaths.
The Pentagon said Sunday it has requested assistance from commercial airlines to relocate Afghan refugees from neighboring countries. However, the aircraft will not enter Afghanistan as the airport in Kabul is reportedly at risk for attack by the Islamic State.
The violence in Afghanistan displaced about half a million people this year, and roughly 300,000 over the last week alone. So far, tens of thousands of people have successfully evacuated the country by way of Kabul airport. The U.S. has promised to give refuge to 10,000 Afghans.
Not all countries willing to take on refugees have provided specific numbers. However, most are preparing to deal with mass movements of people out of Afghanistan due to the Taliban takeover.
Water shortage in Orlando linked to Covid-19
The city of Orlando has asked for community support in decreasing water usage and conserving liquid oxygen for Covid-19 patients. It is essential for the treatment of severe Covid and is also used to treat water.
Florida is seeing a record surge in virus cases and hospitalizations. This has depleted supplies of liquid oxygen, which could lead to decreased water quality if left unaddressed. However, the OUC believes “that will not happen if everyone does their part to conserve water”.
The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) specifically asked that residents cut back on watering their lawns, washing their cars, and other non-essential activities for at least two weeks. Notably, landscaping accounts for the consumption of roughly 40% of the region’s drinking water.
Biden administration seeks to uphold Trump rule on ending gray wolf protections
On Friday, the Biden administration requested the dismissal of a lawsuit meant to restore federal protections for gray wolves. Now, experts and activists worry that gray wolves will quickly be hunted into endangerment again.
Last year, the administration of former President Trump removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list. The lawsuit argues the species was unlisted illegally and based on regional data, as opposed to national statistics.
Since the Endangered Species Act saved the species from near extinction once, many advocates hoped Biden would re-list the species for ongoing protection. He promised to review the rule, and this request to dismiss the lawsuit signals his administration is in agreement with Trump on the issue.
“Why should we hammer the population back down and lose all the gains that have been made before any kind of remedial action?” asked Tim Preso, managing attorney for the environmental law firm Earthjustice.
Some states have legalized controversial hunting and trapping methods, as well as wolf hunts. Their reasoning is the death of cattle and other livestock, though a 2015 report from the USDA showed that coyotes account for a much larger percentage of livestock predation.
This February, Wisconsin mandated a wolf hunt with a kill quota of 119 wolves. More than 2,000 permits were issued and 218 wolves were killed in just over five days. In May, Idaho passed a law to reduce the grey wolf population by 90%. It legalizes chasing the animals down on ATVs and shooting them from helicopters to “allow more opportunity for hunters”.
Trump booed by supporters at rally after recommending Covid vaccines
Attendees at an Alabama rally booed former President Trump for recommending attendees get vaccinated against Covid-19. “I did it. It’s good! Take the vaccines,” he told them before some audience members began to jeer.
“You got your freedoms, but I happened to take the vaccine,” he told the unsettled crowd. While he gently suggested his supporters get vaccinated, he continued to emphasize their freedom was most important.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that vaccines “are up to 95% effective at preventing COVID-19-related hospitalization” and death.