As Washington ponders how the U.S. lost its longest war in Afghanistan, it’s worth considering another question: Who won the war?
There is the Taliban, of course, the fanatics who have formed an interim government featuring several wanted terrorists. But an even bigger winner may be the Taliban’s primary patron: Pakistan.
Most U.S. allies expressed shock, sadness and anger at the Taliban’s victory last month in Kabul. But Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan celebrated the rout of Afghanistan’s elected government, saying the Taliban had “broken the shackles of slavery.”
For much of the war on terror that began after 9/11, Pakistan played a double game. It occasionally helped track and detain al-Qaida and Taliban leaders. In 2010, Pakistani and U.S. special operations forces arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi. All the while, however, elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services provided sanctuary, funding and training for the Taliban and its allies in the lethal terrorist group known as the Haqqani network.
For the first 10 years of the Afghanistan war, this was an issue that the U.S. and Pakistan preferred to debate in private. After the Haqqani network orchestrated a truck bombing at a NATO outpost near Kabul and an assault on the U.S. embassy there in September 2011, Admiral Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, broke the silence. “The Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” he said.
Mullen’s accusation should have surprised no one. A few months earlier, the U.S. had killed Osama bin Laden, who was then living comfortably in Abbottabad, home of the Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point. There is a reason Mullen didn’t give his Pakistani counterparts advance notice of that raid.
Between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. provided Pakistan with more than $20 billion in military assistance. That subsidy began to decrease after 2011. In 2018, with a few narrow national-security exceptions, the U.S. suspended security assistance.
The restrictions and eventual suspension of military aid were really the only ways the U.S. ever tried to punish its ostensible client. By his second term, President Barack Obama was looking for a way to get out of Afghanistan. And while there was a modest surge of forces in President Donald Trump’s first year in office, his administration ended up negotiating the surrender that President Joe Biden just completed.
So it’s no wonder that Pakistan is celebrating the Taliban’s victory. A faction of its deep state had been working to return the Taliban to power since 2001.
So far, the Biden administration has kept silent about Pakistan’s betrayal. Remarkably, a remnant of Afghan patriots has not. Last week, protesters in Kabul demanded that Pakistan not intervene in their sovereign affairs.
It would be nice if there were some official show of U.S. support for these courageous protesters. But it’s unlikely. As Biden has said many times in the last several months, the post-withdrawal plan is for the U.S. to retain an “over the horizon” capability to target terrorists in Afghanistan. That means the U.S. will need Pakistan’s approval for flights over its airspace.
America’s “forever war” in Afghanistan may be over. But just across the border, in Pakistan, America’s former client still holds leverage over the superpower it helped defeat.
A banner apple harvest like the one happening now across Northern Colorado is exactly what brought Mike Biwer and Will Perez out West.
In the summer of 2019, the new farmers purchased 15 cultivated acres in Ault that were covered in some 2,000 fruit trees and just starting to grow 149 different apple varieties, plus a handful each of pears and plums.
They bought their plot, now Adam’s Apple Orchard & Country Store, from Walt Rosenberg of Masonville Orchards, who had always planned for a U-pick operation onsite.
That first autumn, the trees were young and the harvest small, according to Biwer. By the next year, all of the apple trees had succumbed to a late-season freeze.
Finally, this growing season, the apples are “bountiful,” Biwer said. “Last year we had no fruit; this year the volume and turnout have been spectacular. … We’re kind of coming into our sweet spot, no pun intended. McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jonathan; some of the more popular apples are coming in.”
And while the apples are plentiful, Front Rangers looking to pick them for snacking, baking and more should get out to harvest while they still can.
The three-year boom-to-bust apple cycle that Biwer and Perez experienced in their first few growing seasons is a near-sure thing along the Front Range, according to Sharon Perdue, an 18-year apple grower and owner of Ya Ya Farm & Orchard in Longmont.
“The problem we have here is we get the April storms, so one in three years I have like no crop, two in three, I have like half a crop,” Perdue said. “This year’s is the best crop I’ve had since 2012.”
“There’s just so many apples, but maybe we’ll have a freeze by (October).”
In 2014, Perdue experienced the kind of “freak” fall storm that “literally froze the trees in half. I lost 600 trees alone that year, 15 years (of work) in one night,” she explained. “That’s partly why people don’t have orchards out here.”
After buying her 8-acre farm and restoring the land to grow 118 apple varieties, primarily heirloom, Perdue began taking fruit to local farmers markets, where she encountered Midwest and East Coast transplants who were looking to pick fruit themselves.
“People were telling me how they used to pick apples as kids,” she said of her market customers. “And I thought, ‘Well, why am I (picking apples) then?”
Ya Ya’s apple harvests have since become a community affair, with Perdue getting more requests for picking than she can fill. Now U-pick reservations for the following season start coming in around the first of each year.
Customers send email requests for U-pick appointments that Perdue starts responding to, in order, by July.
If she has more availability, she’ll open appointments to walk-ins. This year, she expects to have enough apples to do just that. Unless a cold snap comes.
Biwer and Perez are excited to open Adam’s Apple to anyone who makes the drive to Ault on the weekends, and by appointment Wednesdays through Fridays while the fruit lasts. So far, they’ve been amazed by the response.
“People want to come out and hang out in the country and be around trees,” Biwer said. “They’ll drive two to three hours just to pick apples … and it’s just overwhelming. It’s pretty cool.”
When they left the Midwest — and their careers in corporate sales and interior design, respectively — Biwer and Perez had no real agriculture experience, let alone experience living in a town of 2,000.
They say the reception to Adam’s Apple has been amazing, though. And this first fruitful season will help determine their U-pick business for years to come.
“To see this reaction and feedback from people, I think we can figure out a way to capitalize,” Biwer said. “To have it be a nice community space, but also to make us a nice living, too.”
If you go
Adam’s Apple is at 42135 Weld County Road 43 in Ault. The U-pick orchard is open to all on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment Wednesdays through Fridays. The orchard also hosts weddings, reunions and school groups. The country store sells apple butter, cider, local honey and more. adamsapplecolorado.com
Ya Ya is at 6914 Ute Highway in Longmont. While U-pick reservations are sold out for 2021, owner Sharon Perdue runs a farm stand onsite, open to all, and she expects to open up picking during the week to last-minute reservations and walk-ins. Check the orchard’s social media feeds and website for that information. yayafarmandorchard.com
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After a 556 day, coronavirus-induced hiatus from conventional concerts, New York’s Philharmonic returned last Friday for its return performance in the midst of drama surrounding the performance group. Jaap van Zweden, the Philharmonic’s music director, announced last week that he’ll be stepping down at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 season. Additionally, the Philharmonic’s David Geffen Hall is currently closed for renovations, and will once again be available to be visited in 2022. Overall, it’s been a period of intense upheaval for the iconic orchestra, which happens to hold the distinction of being America’s oldest.
In the past, the New York Times writes, van Zweden sometimes staged performances in which he made questionable decisions with the material; nevertheless, the director is prepared to steward the orchestra through his last season with aplomb. Plus, the feeling of being back out in front of a live audience was thrilling for the performers who’d been denied such an experience for so long.
“That kind of feeling, when we walk out and see a full audience, it’s very inspirational to us because we want to share the music with as many people as possible,” Frank Huang, the Philharmonic’s first violinist, told NY1. Huang acknowledged that many musicians onstage will now be wearing masks, but that “the familiarity of being on stage and performing for an audience, it is going to be there. You know, we feel very comfortable playing together as a group.”
Similar changes have been put in place for both performers and attendees of Broadway shows, which recently made their triumphant comeback after being teased for months by New York’s leaders. Proof of vaccination is required for Broadway audiences and stars alike, and children under the age of 12 wishing to attend a show are required to offer negative coronavirus tests.
HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston police officer was killed and another was wounded Monday morning during a shooting that also killed a 31-year-old man whom the officers were attempting to arrest on drug charges, authorities said.
The veteran officers were each shot multiple times while attempting to serve an arrest warrant at an apartment complex on the city’s northeast side, Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a news conference.
“This has been a tragic day today,” Turner said. “It is another reminder that police work is inherently dangerous.”
Senior Officer William Jeffrey, who joined the Houston Police Department in 1990, was pronounced dead at a hospital following the shooting, authorities said. He was 54. Sgt. Charles Vance, who joined the department in 1998, was in stable condition, according to police Chief Troy Finner. Vance is 49.
The officers arrived at the apartment around 7:30 a.m., knocked on the door and spoke with a woman who answered it, Finner said. He said the man then came out and began shooting at the officers.
“You’ve got a suspect with a female girlfriend with small kids in that apartment complex and he still fired upon our officers,” Finner said. He said police returned fire and that the man died on the scene.
Authorities didn’t identify the man the officers were attempting to arrest. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.
This story has been corrected to show that Vance joined the department in 1998.
Before Sunday, Maxx Williams’ most productive day in the NFL came during his rookie season in 2015.
The former Gophers tight end from Waconia had career highs of seven receptions for 94 yards in the Arizona Cardinals’ 34-33 win over the Vikings at State Farm Stadium on Sunday. The seventh-year veteran’s previous bests were six receptions for 53 yards for the Ravens six years ago.
RELATED: Maxx Williams got ‘bragging rights’ in Arizona’s win over his home state Vikings
De’Vondre Campbell, one of Williams’ teammates on the Gophers in 2013-14, had his own big game for the Packers on Monday Night Football. He had 13 total tackles and an interceptions in the 35-17 win over the Lions. It was the fourth time Campbell has eclipsed 10-plus tackles in a game across his six-year career; his best tackle total was 17 for the Falcons two years ago.
His fourth-quarter interception was the Packers’ first pick of the season; it helped seal the NFC North win to put Green Bay (1-1) first in the division.
Four other former Gophers registered tackles this week: Jaguars’ Damien Wilson (six); Texans Eric Murray (five); Bucanneers’ Antoine Winfield Jr. (four); Washington’s Benjamin St-Juste (three). Giants’ Carter Coughlin played nearly 30 defensive snaps Sunday, but didn’t record a stat for a second-straight week.
Buccaneers wideout Tyler Johnson had his first reception of 2021, a five-yard grab against the Falcons. He played on three offensive plays in the season opener and had 17 snaps in Week 2.
Kicker Ryan Santoso was released by the Panthers after making his first NFL points in Week 1. He was picked up by the Titans for it’s practice squad, but was then waived Sunday.
Nine other former Gophers players were inactive, injured or on practice squads for Week 2.
After being cut by the Panthers in preseason, ex-U linebacker Jon Celestin is now coaching at Eden Prairie.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (PIX11) — Jersey City police officers were hailed as heroes this weekend after they quickly sprung into action to catch a 1-month-old baby who was thrown from a balcony.
Officer Eduardo Matute was among several officers who responded to the scene on Saturday after someone called police and reported a child was in danger, according to officials. Upon arrival, they encountered a man who was dangling the baby from a second-story balcony and threatening to drop the infant, officials said.
Police set up a perimeter and several officers positioned themselves below the balcony as the man continued to threaten to throw the baby over the railing, according to officials. After a lengthy standoff, officials said the man dropped the infant, and Matute and other officers caught the child.
The baby was taken to a hospital for evaluation but was unharmed, according to officials. The man was arrested and faces charges.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop praised the officers on social media Saturday evening. “We are lucky to have the men and woman of the JCPD, as every single day I see it firsthand they rise to meet any/all challenges,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — A new state vaccine mandate is now in place for hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, and other medical professionals in Illinois. Staff at schools, hospitals, and clinics will now have to show proof they’ve been vaccinated or submit to weekly Coronavirus testing after a new statewide requirement went into effect on Sunday.
The Pritzker administration delayed the initial vaccine mandate to buy enough time to negotiate a testing option with schools and hospitals. Most school districts are now offering rapid saliva tests from the University of Illinois’ SHIELD testing system. Some others are using PCR or antigen tests from a provider named Achieve. Both programs use federal funding to pay for the tests, which are available at no cost to teachers in many school districts. Hospitals report using a wide variety of tests.
“It was hard for some of them to implement that,” Governor Pritzker said at a press conference in Peoria on Monday. “Particularly the healthcare institutions, interestingly, because of not having enough personnel.”
While most teachers and nurses are already vaccinated, administrators at school districts and hospitals are now bracing for tough conversations with some of their unvaccinated employees who may refuse to submit to testing. A small group of protesters, including some health care workers, rallied outside the state Capitol on Saturday to voice opposition to the vaccine mandate. Since unvaccinated workers have a week to show their employers a negative Coronavirus test, the first hard deadline will come at the end of this week.
“If they do not test or provide the beginning of their vaccination, then we can we cannot let them then work in the school building after this week,” Springfield’s District 186 superintendent Jennifer Gill said.
Worker shortages have plagued the the education and health care sectors since long before the pandemic began. Now employers are concerned they may lose some ground in filling open positions if the mandate forces some workers off the job.
“My primary job in an education system is to educate our students, and we are also in the middle of a very deep and important employee shortage that we have across the state,” Gill said. “It’s not just the teacher shortage. It’s paraprofessional shortage, it’s bus driver shortage, it’s all of the above. And operating a district to educate students is my primary goal. And that is something that we have to keep in mind.”
“Of course, I’m concerned about people who will refuse to get vaccinated and refused to get tested,” Governor Pritzker responded when asked about the potential for the vaccine mandate exacerbating staffing shortages. “We don’t want to cause any shortages, but we do want to keep everybody safe,” he said. “We do have these alternatives available to people. But again, vaccination is the safest thing that people can do for themselves for their communities for the schools, as well as healthcare groups for their health care.”
Vaccine mandates have caused unintended consequences in other areas. A hospital in New York recently had to suspend services in the birthing unit after several nurses resigned in protest to a vaccine mandate.
The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act does provide civil protections for patients who decide to refuse vaccines or medical tests. Gill says the new state vaccine mandate policy allows teachers to decline the vaccine for medical or religious objections, but she cited new emergency rules from the Illinois State Board of Education, and said that a religious exemption “does not apply to testing.”
A spokeswoman for the State Board of Education said any school district that does not enforce the vaccine mandate “risks state recognition,” which could result in a school district losing state funding.
“ISBE will investigate all complaints of noncompliance,” spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said in an email. “School districts will maintain records at the local level to ensure the compliance of all school personnel.”
School districts have to identify personnel in three categories: “fully vaccinated, unvaccinated workers in compliance with testing requirements, or excluded from school premises.”
The Pritzker administration expects legal challenges to the vaccine mandate.
“I know that there are people who are attempting to challenge these things in court,” Pritzker said. “I would just say that this is a very unhelpful thing to do, and it is going to make schools and healthcare settings less safe.”
Most teachers and students who are old enough to be vaccinated have already had their shots. Gill said 72.3% of teachers in Springfield schools are fully vaccinated, while 20% have not yet responded to the district’s questions, and 6.4% say they will refuse the vaccine despite the mandate.
More than a year-and-a-half into the pandemic, the virus is still spreading so quickly through unvaccinated populations that it’s putting severe strain on health care systems, especially in Central and Southern Illinois.
Region Five, which consists of 20 of the state’s southern-most counties, has no ICU hospital beds left available, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. St. Anthony’s hospital in Effingham set a pandemic record with 24 patients hospitalized with Covid-related illness last week. All but two of them were unvaccinated.
The odds that a Colorado resident will run across someone who’s contagious with COVID-19 in any large group are now higher than they’ve been since the start of 2021 — though how much people should worry about that depends on whether they’ve been vaccinated.
With the state now experiencing its fifth wave of the virus, about one in every 99 people was estimated to be contagious as of last Wednesday, according to a new report from the Colorado School of Public Health’s COVID-19 modeling team. During the fall surge last year, about one in every 40 people was contagious.
When so many people are contagious, it means that interactions will remain relatively risky, even if cases start to go down, said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the School of Public Health. Getting vaccinated, wearing masks and avoiding high-risk activities will help speed up the return to the relative freedom we had in the early summer, but “it takes a while,” she said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 data paints a mixed picture of whether the situation is improving. But what is clear is that unvaccinated people remain highly vulnerable, Carlton said. The state reported about 83% of those who are hospitalized now aren’t fully vaccinated.
New cases were down for a second week, with 11,561 reported in the week ending Sunday. But the percentage of tests coming back positive was up, reaching 6.58% over the last three days. That suggests the state might not have a complete picture of how widely the virus is spreading.
So far, Colorado has been spared the large increase in seriously ill children that some states have endured, though about 26% of new coronavirus cases are in people younger than 20.
Hospitalizations also were difficult to interpret. As of Monday afternoon, 980 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. That’s an improvement over the previous Monday, but a worsening compared to Saturday and Sunday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear masks in indoor public places when their community has 50 or more cases for every 100,000 people. Only three Colorado counties have case rates lower than that: San Juan, Hinsdale and Lake. More than 10% of tests in Lake County were positive, though, suggesting the virus is spreading more widely than the case numbers show, and residents might want to mask up.
It appears that the rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations Colorado saw in August has slowed down, but it’s not clear if a decrease is starting, Carlton said.
“I think we’re at a very uncertain moment,” she said. “We’re seeing these kind of wild swings in the data.”
The most recent modeling report projects that if the current slowdown in new cases continues, hospitalizations would be expected to peak in September or October, without reaching levels seen last fall and winter. If the pace of new vaccinations doesn’t increase and people do more mixing, however, it’s possible hospitalizations could approach the December 2020 peak again.
But if 82% of people get vaccinated by late October, or the average person takes greater precautions, like wearing masks and practicing some social distancing, fewer people would be hospitalized. That timeline might be ambitious — it took about two months for Colorado to progress from vaccinating 70% of adults to reaching 75%.
While Colorado didn’t exceed hospital capacity last year, deaths were higher than expected once about 1,500 people were hospitalized for COVID-19. That’s consistent with findings in other states that more people die as the strain on hospitals increases, Carlton said.
It’s not clear what will happen this year, as hospitals deal with COVID-19, flu and other needs at the same time, Carlton said. Last year, other viruses were almost nonexistent as people stayed home and wore masks when they needed to go out.
Getting vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the flu is the best way to reduce the odds of overwhelming the health care system, Carlton said.
“This year we’re moving into uncharted waters again,” she said. “We want to avoid putting undue pressure on the hospitals.”
Annissa Essaibi-George has connected with another union in her bid for mayor.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 endorsed her Monday at the union’s office on Freeport Street in Dorchester. IBEW Local 103’s membership includes 10,000 highly skilled electricians and technicians in the Boston area.
“IBEW Local 103 is incredibly proud to stand with Annissa Essaibi-George in her candidacy for Mayor of Boston,” said Lou Antonellis, Business Manager for IBEW Local 103. “As a former union member herself, Annissa knows our values firsthand. She will advocate and fight for us every single day as our Mayor, and will always govern with Boston’s hard working residents and families in mind.”
Essaibi-George said she will “work hand in hand with our unions to fight for fair wages, increase benefits, and maintain safe working conditions for all. Labor will always have a seat at the policymaking table in order for us to do this work, together.”
Michelle Wu, the other finalist for mayor of Boston, has also lined up a few key endorsements — Suffolk Sheriff Steven Tompkins, to name a big one — as the Nov. 2 final looms.
Jamaica Plain State Sen. and gubernatorial hopeful Sonia Chang-Díaz also endorsed Wu during a rally in the South End on Saturday.
LONDON — Johnson & Johnson released data showing that a booster dose to its one-shot coronavirus vaccine provides a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose.
J&J said in statement Tuesday that it ran two early studies in people previously given its vaccine and found that a second dose produced an increased antibody response in adults from age 18 to 55. The study’s results haven’t yet been peer-reviewed.
“A booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine,” said Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head of research and development at J&J. The company previously published data showing its one-shot dose provided protection for up to eight months after immunization.
J&J said it is now in talks with regulators including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and others regarding using booster doses of its vaccine.
J&J’s vaccine is approved for use in the U.S., across Europe and there are plans for at least 200 million doses to be shared with the U.N.-backed COVAX effort aimed at distributing vaccines to poor countries. But the company has been plagued by production problems and millions of doses made at a troubled factory in Baltimore had to be thrown out.
The J&J vaccine has been considered critical by numerous health officials to ending the pandemic because it requires only one shot, but fears about the easier-to-spread delta coronavirus variant have prompted numerous governments to consider the use of booster shots for many approved vaccines.
Last week, experts at the FDA recommended people 65 and older get a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech while Britain previously authorized booster shots for people 50 and over in addition to priority groups like health workers and those with underlying health conditions. Other countries including Israel, France and Germany have also begun offering third vaccine doses to some people.
The World Health Organization has urged rich countries to stop administering booster doses until at least the end of the year, saying vaccines should immediately be redirected to Africa, where fewer than 4% of the population is fully immunized. In a paper published last week in the journal Lancet, top scientists from the WHO and FDA argued that the average person doesn’t need a booster shot and that the authorized vaccines to date provide strong protection against severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Tuesday, September 21 Washington County reported their daily COVID update.
For Monday, September 20 case activity, 18 new COVID cases were added/processed, there were 24 new recoveries of active cases, nine current cases are hospitalized. 12 of the 18 new cases with ties to other cases/investigations (including household spread cases, workplace spread, and other school and/or community activities) and the remaining six cases have no identified origin of exposure at this time. Of the Tuesday, September 21 new cases were added, six have been fully vaccinated (five received the Pfizer series, one received the Moderna series).