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Blinken in Afghanistan to Sell Biden Troop Withdrawal

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Thursday to sell Afghan leaders and a wary public on President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all American troops from the country and end America’s longest-running war.

Blinken was meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, and civic figures, a day after Biden announced that the remaining 2,500 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan would be coming home by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that led to the U.S. invasion.

His trip also came after NATO immediately followed suit, saying its roughly 7,000 non-American forces in Afghanistan would be departing within a few months, ending the foreign military presence that had been a fact of life for a generation of Afghans already reeling from more than 40 years of conflict.

Blinken sought to reassure the Afghan leadership that the withdrawal did not mean an end to the U.S.-Afghan relationship.

“I wanted to demonstrate with my visit the ongoing to commitment of the United States to the Islamic Republic and the people of Afghanistan,” Blinken told Ghani as they met at the presidential palace in Kabul. “The partnership is changing, but the partnership itself is enduring.”

“We respect the decision and are adjusting our priorities,” Ghani told Blinken, expressing gratitude for the sacrifices of US troops.

Blinken arrived in the Afghan capital from Brussels where he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin briefed NATO officials on the move and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance would also be leaving.

The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed warned Wednesday that “problems will be compounded,” if the U.S. misses a May 1 deadline for withdrawal set during the Trump administration. The insurgent movement has yet to respond to Biden’s surprise announcement that the pullout would only start on that date.

Biden, Blinken, Austin and Stoltenberg have all sought to put a brave face on the pullout, maintaining that the U.S.- and NATO-led missions to Afghanistan had achieved their goal of decimating Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network that launched the 9/11 attacks and clearing the country of terrorist elements that could use Afghan soil to plot similar strikes.

However, that argument has faced pushback from some U.S, lawmakers and human rights advocates who say the withdrawal will result in the loss of freedoms that Afghans enjoyed after the Taliban was ousted from power in late 2001.

Later, in a meeting with Abdullah, Blinken repeated his message, saying that “we have a new chapter, but it is a new chapter that we’re writing together.”

“We are grateful to your people, your country, your administration,” Abdullah said.

Despite billions of U.S. dollars in aid, Afghanistan 20 years on has a poverty rate of 52 per cent according to World Bank figures. That means more than half of Afghanistan’s 36 million people live on less than $1.90 a day. Afghanistan is also considered one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman according to the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security.

For many Afghans the past two decades have been disappointing, as corruption has overtaken successive governments and powerful warlords have amassed wealth and loyal militias who are well armed. Many Afghans fear worsening chaos even more once America leaves.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are at a stalemate but are supposed to resume later this month in Istanbul.

Under an agreement signed between the Trump administration and the Taliban last year, the U.S. was to have completed its military withdrawal by May 1. Although Biden is blowing through that deadline, angering the Taliban leadership, his plan calls for the pull-out to begin on May 1. The NATO withdrawal will commence the same day.

“It is time to end America’s longest war,” Biden said in his announcement in Washington on Tuesday, but he added that the U.S. will “not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.”

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” said Biden, who delivered his address from the White House Treaty Room, the same location where President George W. Bush announced the start of the war. “I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

Biden, along with Blinken and Austin in Brussels, vowed that the U.S. would remain committed to Afghanistan’s people and development.

“Bringing our troops home does not mean ending our relationship with Afghanistan or our support for the country,” Blinken said. “Our support, our engagement and our determination remain.”

Austin also said that the U.S. military, after withdrawing from Afghanistan, will keep counterterrorism “capabilities” in the region to keep pressure on extremist groups operating within Afghanistan. Asked for details, he declined to elaborate on where those U.S. forces would be positioned or in what numbers.

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Mitt Romney Booed Onstage at G.O.P. Convention in Utah

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Earlier this month, Mitt Romney got onstage for his speech and got booed by his own people at a Republican convention in Utah. As he spoke on the microphone, some attendees in the crowd hurled insults such as “communist” and “traitor” to the dismay of the senator. This is not too surprising since the Romney was a staunch critic of Donald Trump even before he became the 45th president of the United States. 

Ever since Trump became a front-runner for the upcoming 2016 presidential elections, Mitt Romney has expressed his concern and has never stopped criticizing the future president. He has tried to bring attention to Trump’s non-disclosure of his taxes and made verbal attacks on every fiber of Donald Trump’s being. From his personal life to his abilities as a businessman and a politician, Romney went on with the onslaught, even urging his partymates to vote a candidate with the most chances of beating Trump.

All of Romney’s efforts to put the brakes on Trump’s surging bandwagon proved to be futile. He lambasted Donald Trump every chance he got on a microphone and even tried to support a much less popular Ted Cruz. Sometimes Trump would bite back with scathing remarks, stating that Mitt Romney is “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics.” Mitt Romney was also the only Republican who voted in favor of Donald Trump’s impeachment when he was already the head of state, which is actually the main reason for the disrespectful reception in Utah. 

Being the long-time GOP member that he is though, Mitt Romney didn’t fold amidst the insults and boos at the Utah convention. He retorted back on the mic saying “Oh yeah, you can boo all you like, but I’ve been a Republican all my life. My dad was a governor of Michigan, my dad worked for Republican candidates that he believed in. I worked for Republicans across the country, and if you don’t recall, I was the Republican nominee for President in 2012.”

Fair enough, Mitt Romney did challenge for the presidential seat and was the standard bearer of the Grand Old Party. Unfortunately, Barrack Obama defeated him by a convincing margin of almost 5 million votes. 

Mitt Romney may have done some little good things for the country, especially in Utah where he “saved” the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics back in 2012. However, it is clear that a vast majority of Americans are not a fan of the man today as he has created enemies from opposing groups. It is pretty obvious by now that the ageing senator has become an irrelevant figure even in his own circle.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Call for End of $300 Weekly Unemployment Benefits

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The continuing pandemic has dealt a great blow to the economy of the United States and we are only starting to slowly recover from this adversity. Unemployment is at an all-time high, with almost 10 million jobless people struggling to put anything on the dinner table. However, due to the efforts of various sectors and industries, more and more innovative ideas are being utilized to bring back life as we know it (or at least a glimpse of it). 

Just last weekend, a boxing match between two superstars from Mexico and the UK, took place at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It was attended by a record 73,000 fans, a testament to the resilience of the American people. The massive attendance also meant that a lot of jobs are back and a whole lot more are being created. 

Well, that is if the people are willing to get off the couches that have been turning them into useless sloths for the past year or so. Motivation is hard to come by especially if the government is providing you monetary allowance to stay at home.

That is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling for the Biden administration to put an end to the $300 weekly unemployment benefits that the citizens are receiving while doing nothing at all. 

In an official statement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice-President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley, he said “the disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market. We need a comprehensive approach to dealing with our workforce issues and the very real threat unfilled positions pose to our economic recovery from the pandemic.”

“One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit.  Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working” Bradley said.

Many experts believe that this supplement has become detrimental to the workforce because a lot of them are opting not to return to their jobs to enjoy the weekly government support. The Republicans are aware of this as well, and that is why South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered the Department of Employment and Workforce to pull out of the federal government’s pandemic programs next month.

In his press release, McMaster has this to say about the matter:

“What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace.”

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The Biden Administration Is Pushing for Reparations for Border Crossers

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As if the uncontrollable torrent of immigrants that are illegally crossing American borders isn’t enough, president Joe Biden is now pushing to provide reparations for some of the past violators. 

The current administration has already started negotiating with the American Civil Liberties Union to arrange for the reparations and amnesty of about a thousand illegal immigrant parents who were deported after being separated from their children. The said illegal aliens were netted as a part of previous president Donald Trump’s Zero Tolerance operations.

In an interview with NBC, ACLU’s lawyer Lee Gelernt stated that “The ACLU is in settlement negotiations with the Biden administration to provide full relief to the thousands of separated families, not just reunification in the U.S. but permanent status, compensation and social services.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security further explained “This is only the beginning, and the government cannot do this work alone. We are committed to working with the private sector and with the NGOs, attorneys, and advocates who have done tremendous work in support of these families.”

The wave of undocumented illegal aliens have already been a huge problem for authorities to deal with and the idea that they could get, not only amnesty, but also reparations is a very dangerous matter for the United States. This is actually akin to rewarding someone for trespassing your own home and this will just encourage more of them to do the same.

The plan to give out reparations has been a part of Joe Biden’s campaign, although at first, it was more focused on descendants of past slaves. Now he wishes to do the same favors for those who crossed into American soil illegally during Trump’s time in the White House. 

We feel for those people who wanted to enter the promised land, but we also wish that they would do it the proper way just like the vast majority of hardworking foreigners who came to the United States, fully documented. It would be unfair for the immigrant cooks, farmers, doctors and nurses who got here using the special abilities that they possess. They put in a lot of effort and went through the correct processes before working and migrating to the U.S.

America allows skilled people, even foreigners to contribute to society as long as it is done legally. Undocumented aliens could pose a lot of risks to the nation because authorities have no record of who is entering our territories. With this kind of arrangement, we have no way of knowing if there are criminals and other kinds of bad people just blending in within our community, ready to disrupt the peace anytime.

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