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Weekend Review: Afghanistan on the Verge of Collapse

Morning in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, where Taliban advances now threaten to overtake the city.

The Taliban is making fast progress towards Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. (Photo: Mohammad Rahmani/Unsplash)

Posted: August 14, 2021 at 6:58 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Taliban is making extraordinary advances in Afghanistan and now claims 21 of 34 of the country’s provinces. Alarming new research suggests the country’s capital, Kabul, could fall to the militant group within 90 days, according to ABC News.

In April, President Joe Biden announced the imminent withdrawal of all remaining U.S. forces from Afghanistan after 20 years of war efforts. However, the White House announced on Friday that 3,000 troops will travel to the country to help evacuate U.S. diplomatic staff. Biden then redirected additional troops to assist with the “orderly and safe drawdown” of U.S. presence after the Taliban made swift progress towards Kabul on Saturday.

Now, a total of 5,000 U.S. troops are going to Afghanistan. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said those forces will “support the orderly and safe reduction of civilian personnel.”

In a Saturday statement from the White House, Biden blamed former President Trump for leaving the Taliban “in the strongest position militarily since 2001.” The president emphasized his determination to end the war, which he called “another country’s civil conflict.”

For his part, Trump blamed Biden and said if he “were now president,” the withdrawal would have gone better. He claimed he had “discussions with top Taliban leaders whereby they understood what they were doing now would not be acceptable.”

7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Kills Hundreds in Haiti

At least 227 people died as a result of an earthquake with a 7.2 magnitude in Haiti on Saturday morning. The U.S. Geological Survey predicts the death toll will eventually climb into the thousands.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said the country will be under a state of emergency while “necessary arrangements to assist people affected by the earthquake” are made.

Haiti is still reeling from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last month. As such, President Biden authorized immediate assistance from the U.S. in damage assessment, recovery, and relief.

Cuomo’s resignation pending after findings of sexual misconduct

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he will resign from office effective on Aug. 25.

The revelation comes amid accusations of sexual harassment made against the governor. An independent investigation found allegations from eleven women to be true.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James said at a press conference. Specifically, the investigation found a “hostile” and “unsafe” environment for women who suffered “inappropriate groping” and other forms of sexual misconduct.

Cuomo announced the decision to resign a week after the investigation’s findings were publicized. Still, he gave no credit to those findings. Instead, he emphasized that he felt he “never crossed the line with anyone” but also acknowledged how “the line has been redrawn.”

An impeachment trial and subsequent conviction were probable if he remained in office. However, the impeachment inquiry will not continue after Cuomo resigns, according to an announcement made by New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Friday.

On Twitter, New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou argued that without impeachment, Cuomo may avoid meaningful accountability for his misconduct while in office.

Meanwhile, others suggest arrest and prosecution are still possible for the governor after leaving office. This is in large part due to the severity of some of the accusations against him.

Regardless of Cuomo’s legal fate, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will serve the remainder of his term as the state’s first female governor.

At least 6 killed in Britain’s deadliest mass shooting in more than a decade

A gunman in southwest England killed five people on Thursday, according to police. He then shot and killed himself after what marked the deadliest mass shooting in Britain in over 10 years.

Police publicly identified the gunman and said the incident is not related to terrorism. Previously, the shooter complained online about difficulties dating and feeling “beaten down” by life.

The offender knew the first victim, according to police. In addition to four adults, the shooter’s casualties include a 3-year-old child.

SCOTUS Backs Indiana University’s Vaccine Requirement

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a bid by students at Indiana University to block the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In May, the university announced vaccines would be required for students and faculty, with certain exceptions. Consequently, students who do not receive two doses by the start of the fall semester will be tested weekly until they do.

A group of students appealed to the Supreme Court on grounds their constitutional rights were violated by the order. They asked the justices to block the school’s vaccine requirement on their behalf.

Surprising to some, Barrett refused the group’s request. She has jurisdiction over the appeals court in the case and declined to refer the matter to the full court.

Federal judge rejects bid to block Biden’s new eviction moratorium

On Friday, District Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected a request by a group of landlords to block the federal eviction moratorium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended the ban on evictions through Oct. 3 in areas with high COVID infection rates.

Notably, more than 11 million Americans currently face eviction due to pandemic hardships. However, Friedrich’s ruling did not address that issue. Instead, the judge argued that the moratorium extension is likely illegal, but that the “Court’s hands are tied (because) the Supreme Court did not issue a controlling opinion” in the case.

Some supporters of the moratorium hope this will provide time to secure more meaningful rent relief.

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