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Taliban’s First Press Conference Since Hostile Takeover, White House Claims They Assured ‘Safe Passage’

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The Taliban officially held their first news conference in Kabul on Tuesday as traumatic scenes flooded the internet of civilians desperately attempting to flee the country. Thousands desperately stormed the Kabul airport, some going so far as to cling onto the outside of evacuating air transport, plunging to their death. Bodies have even been reported to have been found in the wheel wells of military planes.

The Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said “we don’t’ want any internal or external enemies.” The Taliban claimed they will not seek retribution against former soldiers and those who helped the United States and other western countries in the past two decades.

“Nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to knock on your doors,” said Mujahid; a statement the world does not seem to hold in high confidence if history is any indication. Mujahid also addressed another global concern; the treatment of women under Taliban rule.

Women will be allowed to work and study and “will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam,” said Mujahid. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jack Sullivan said Tuesday in a press conference that the Taliban have agreed to allow “safe passage” from Afghanistan for civilians attempting to leave Kabul with U.S. air transport.

In the same press conference, however, Sullivan acknowledged reports that civilians were “being turned away or pushed back or even beaten” as they attempted to get to the Kabul airport.

The Associated Press reports the State Department “said it was sending John Bass a former ambassador to Afghanistan, to manage the evacuation operation in Kabul, and the Pentagon said it will send Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Donohue, a special operations officer and current commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, to take command or airport security operations.”

The White House also stated 13 flights on Tuesday had airlifted 1,100 U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their families from Kabul, claiming more will continue throughout the week. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said U.S. officers were speaking with Taliban commanders “multiple times a day” about avoiding conflict as they attempt to complete evacuations.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mr. Nobody - Tony Verreos

    August 19, 2021 at 12:58 am

    It’s more than a little disturbing to think there are all these Taliban apparently hiding in plain sight, and nobody has been killing them. Why? The UN has a reputation for being useless particularly when humanitarian protection is needed. But Pres. George Bush started off a terrible war with a terrible precedent of not reporting war casualties, and refugee numbers. We are supposed to believe the President and Pentagon when they tell us that our enemy has been beaten, but we don’t even have a verifiable body count.

    Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires if I recall correctly. Why? The area has never been successfully conquered by outsiders. Well the US did it pretty much, but at a huge cost. I also Q if Pakistan is not the real enemy? If the Arabs are famous for saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then the opposite must also be true; the friend of my enemy is my enemy. We don’t seem to fully grasp this basic relationship.

    Now the Taliban leaders are saying what it seems they know westerners want to hear them say, but people who know their values and actions, don’t trust them, and fear them. Why have we never heard the truth about why non Taliban do not seem eager to fight and beat Taliban? That seems to be the real Q.

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International

China Warns Olympic Athletes Could Face Serious Consequences if they Speak Publicly on Human Rights

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Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games are prepared to begin February 4th in Beijing, but not without consequences. Chinese officials have issued a “warning” to all foreign athletes that they are “subject to certain punishment” if they speak “against the Olympic spirit.”

That “Olympic spirit” means politically speaking out about China. “Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment,” said Yan Shu, deputy director-general of international relations for the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOC).

National Review notes the Chinese Party’s suppression of speech is well known and many are concerned with consequences and punishments for political speech because of strict local laws. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the Olympic Charter Rule banning protesting at medal ceremonies would force athletes to follow “applicable public law.”

The Associated Press reports according to the IOC athletes can “enjoy freedom of speech” when speaking to journalists or posting to social media during the games. However, the committee expressed any measures that would protect athletes from Chinese persecution.

CBS Sports reports Global Athlete Group director general Rob Koehler suggested Olympians could suffer severe consequences if they criticize China, especially while in the country itself. “Silence is complicity and that’s why we have concerns,” said Koehler. “We know the human rights record and the allowance of freedom of expression in China, so there’s really not much protection” he added.

Last month White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the U.S. government delegation planned to boycott the Olympic Games over the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, including the presumed detention of tennis star Peng Shuai.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. The athletes on team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100 percent as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games,” Psaki said.

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Psaki Warns Russia Could ‘At Any Point Launch An Attack In Ukraine’

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Jen Psaki

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki warned that tensions between Russia and Ukraine have grown to the point where “we are now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.”

Psaki made the comments in response to a reporter asking about Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveling to Europe to meet with top Russian officials.

“This morning, Secretary Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. They agreed to meet in Geneva as you noted. At that meeting, Secretary Blinken will urge Russia to take immediate steps to de-escalate,” Psaki said. “He will also fly to Kiev to consult with President Zelensky and Ukraine’s leaders and to Germany for consultations. As you also know, there is a congressional delegation that is also on their way there. And it’s a note, I would note that that just indicates that support for Ukraine has always been a bipartisan issue, and we welcome that.”

“But where things stand right now, President Putin has created this crisis by amassing 100,000 Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders.

This includes moving Russian forces into Belarus recently for joint exercises and conducting additional exercises on Ukraine’s eastern border,” she continued. “So, let’s be clear, our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We are now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.”

Psaki said that Blinken will push for a diplomatic way forward to de-escalate the situation and that if Russia invades then they “are going to suffer severe economic consequences.”

Russia has been behaving more aggressively in recent months as it has moved military forces to Latin America and might relocate nuclear weapons near the United States coastline.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “wants to extend Russia’s sphere of influence to Eastern Europe and secure written commitments that NATO will never again enlarge,” The New York Times reported. “If he is frustrated in reaching that goal, some of his aides suggested on the sidelines of the negotiations last week, then he would pursue Russia’s security interests with results that would be felt acutely in Europe and the United States.”

“There were hints, never quite spelled out, that nuclear weapons could be shifted to places — perhaps not far from the United States coastline — that would reduce warning times after a launch to as little as five minutes, potentially igniting a confrontation with echoes of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,” The Times added.

“The current crisis was touched off by the Kremlin’s release of a series of demands that, if the U.S. and its allies agreed, would effectively restore Russia’s sphere of influence close to Soviet-era lines, before NATO expanded into Eastern Europe. It has also demanded that all U.S. nuclear weapons be withdrawn from Europe, saying it felt threatened by their presence — though the types and locations of those weapons haven’t changed in years. And it wants a stop to all Western troop rotations through former Warsaw Pact states that have since joined NATO.”

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