Afghanistan on edge as U.S. departs, Taliban asserts near full control
By Gistflash News
Aug 31, 2021
Reports of fighting emerged on Tuesday from the one part of Afghanistan not under Taliban control, even as the fundamentalist group asserted its control on Kabul.
These happened hours after the final U.S. troops ended the country’s 20-year presence there.
Resistance fighters in Panjir reported an offensive by Taliban forces.
About seven or eight Taliban fighters died in the Monday offensive, according Fahim Dashti, a spokesperson for the forces in Panjir, speaking on a Whatsapp video.
He also noted that many people had been wounded on his side.
Panjir was the only district that was not taken in the Taliban’s offensive this month.
It was taken in 1996-2001, partially because the region was only accessible through a valley that was relatively easy to defend.
The Taliban made no comment. It has made relatively few assaults on Panjir even as it took over the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, Kabul residents reported calm in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, in the wake of the U.S. departure.
“The city is quiet,” said Lotfullah, who lives in central Kabul. Most shops in the Shahr-e Nau district were open, but only had a few customers, he said.
A few banks reopened their largest branches on Tuesday, just more than two weeks after the Taliban reconquered the country, and hundreds of people stood in line to withdraw money.
In the streets, few members of the Taliban were in evidence. Most were guarding buildings, mainly government offices.
One resident of the Dasht-e Barchi district in western Kabul said private and public schools had reopened for the first time since the Taliban took power in mid-August.
All pupils up to the sixth grade have returned to school, he said.
A day earlier, the final U.S. troops left Kabul, bringing to an end a tense evacuation mission and a 20-year war in Afghanistan.
The U.S. had begun planning its departure in 2020, after a deal between the Trump administration and the Taliban, and President Joe Biden carried on with the plan.
He had expected to hand control to a Western-backed government, not the people the U.S. had been fighting for two decades.
Taliban members were thus jubilant. Their forces had occupied the city’s airport, which had been the last haven of US control as Washington and its allies executed a desperate airlift operation for the last two weeks to get Westerners and their allies out of the country.
Taliban members guarding the airport now are virtually indistinguishable from the U.S. troops who had guarded it up until Monday, having raided abandoned supplies and making use of uniforms and equipment left behind.
“We’re writing history again. The 20-year occupation of Afghanistan by the U.S. and NATO ended this evening. God is great,” was one cry.
Meanwhile, Afghan women’s rights activist, Fawzia Koofi, called on the Taliban to rebuild the country in an inclusive way.
After 20 years of the presence of U.S. and NATO forces, and all the promises made to civil society, women and young people, that chapter has abruptly closed, Koofi said in a tweet.
“Our wealth is our young girls and boys. Taliban, hear us out: we must rebuild together! This land belongs to all of us,” she said.
Meanwhile, governments around the world are weighing how to deal with the Taliban.
While the EU is worrying about the impact of a new refugee surge, many of its member countries and the U.S. say they were still going to talk to the Taliban about evacuating any citizens still left in Afghanistan.
China, meanwhile, promised closer ties to Afghanistan and chided the U.S. for trying to impose its own values on another nation.
Magnitude 5.8 earthquake hits Greek island of Crete
By Gistflash News
Sept 27, 2021
A magnitude 5.8 strong quake hit Greece’s Crete island on Monday, according to the Geodynamics Institute of the National Observatory of Athens.
The tremor’s epicentre was located at a depth of 10 km, some 25 km south of the city of Heraklion, the capital of Crete island, while aftershocks up to 4.3 magnitude have followed, according to Greek scientists.
Material damage has been reported, with no injuries until now, local officials told Greek national news agency AMNA.
Earlier, the Euro Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the quake’s magnitude at 6.2, which was later revised to 6.0.
WHO investigators seeking COVID-19 origin going back to China
By Gistflash News
Sept 27, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is launching a new investigation into the origins of COVID-19, months after an earlier probe ended without drawing firm conclusions, according to a report published.
WHO was putting together a team of some 20 scientists, who will be charged with finding new evidence in China and other locales, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The group will examine whether the virus emerged from a laboratory, a theory that has been angrily rejected by China.
In December 2020, WHO investigators began visits to Wuhan, China, where the first known outbreak of the virus took place.
But their March 2021 report said they had gotten insufficient information from Chinese scientists to answer key questions about COVID-19’s origin.
In August, U.S. intelligence agencies issued a separate report saying they also could not make firm conclusions about COVID-19’s origins.
Florida Gov. appoints Nigerian-American, Joseph Ladapo Surgeon-General
By Gistflash News
Sept 25, 2021
Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor, U.S. has appointed a Nigerian-American, Dr Joseph Ladapo, as Florida Surgeon-General and Secretary of the Department of Health.
DeSantis in a statement posted on the Florida Department of Health website, stated that he was pleased to announce Ladapo for the position.
“I am pleased to announce that Ladapo will lead the Florida department of health as our state’s next surgeon-general
“Ladapo comes to us by way of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, with a superb background.”
According to him, Ladapo has had both a remarkable academic and medical career with a strong emphasis in health policy research.
The governor said: ” Ladapo will bring great leadership to the department of health, ” thanking both Dr Scott Rivkees and Dr Shamarial Roberson for their hard work on behalf of all Floridians.
Lieutenant-Governor, Jeanette Nuñez described Ladapo’s as, “an excellent choice to serve as our next surgeon general.
“Ladapo has impeccable credentials and a strong vision to effectively serve the people of Florida at the helm of our public health agency.
“Through his service to our state, we will continue Florida’s work to advance our public health goals,” Nuñez said.
Ladapo said he is honored to have been chosen by DeSantis to serve as Florida’s next surgeon-general.
“We must make health policy decisions rooted in data and not in fear.
“From California, I have observed the different approaches taken by governors across the country and I have been impressed by DeSantis’ leadership and determination,” he said.
The new surgeon-general said he was impressed by DeSantis’ leadership to ensure that Floridians were afforded all opportunities to maintain their health and wellness, while preserving their freedoms as Americans.
“It is a privilege to join his team and serve the people of Florida,” he said.
Ladapo was recently granted a professorship at the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine.
Prior to joining UF, he served as an associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA),caring for hospitalised patients.
He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, who also holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
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