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Dozens Die in US Northeast From Ida Storm Remnants

Officials in the U.S. states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Thursday said at least 40 people had died as a result of flash flooding caused by torrential rainfall driven by remnants of Hurricane Ida.Officials in New York City said as many as 15 people had died while trapped in basement apartments by floodwaters or caught in their cars.The storm system that came ashore Sunday in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane dumped so much rain in the Northeast U.S. that on Wednesday the National Weather Service issued its first flash flood emergency for New York City and the neighboring city of Newark, New Jersey. At least 23 people died in New Jersey, and at least five perished in Pennsylvania.Many streets were quickly turned into rivers, submerging cars and even commuter buses. Most of the city’s subway system was shut down by the flooding.Danny Hong shows where floodwater reached up to him as he shows the damage in his basement apartment in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York, Sept. 2, 2021.New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke with reporters after touring the city and noted the record-setting eight centimeters of rain that fell in one hour in New York’s Central Park, breaking a record set just one week earlier.”We did not know that between 8:50 and 9:50 p.m. last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls’ level of water to the streets of New York,” said Hochul, who became governor last week after former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned.This kind of cataclysmic event, she added, is no longer unforeseeable, and the city and state need to be prepared.A motorist drives a car through a flooded expressway in Brooklyn, New York, early on Sept. 2, 2021, as flash flooding and record-breaking rainfall brought by the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the area.Biden pledges federal aidSpeaking at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden pledged emergency assistance to governors of New Jersey and New York as well as other states in the region and sent his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.He also said he would be traveling to Louisiana on Friday to meet with Governor John Bel Edwards to discuss the recovery efforts from Ida there. The president said the nation’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies would be working around the clock until the needs of the region were fully met.A police officer stands guard as a man surveys the damage to a home where people died after their basement apartment flooded, in the Jamaica neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City, Sept. 2, 2021.Biden noted the region hit by Ida is a key center of the nation’s oil production and refining infrastructure. He said the government was moving quickly to make sure gasoline continued to flow throughout the country.“We’re all in this together,” Biden said Thursday at the White House. “The nation is here to help.”The president also called extreme storms and wildfires burning in the West a reminder that climate change is here, and he urged Congress to pass his infrastructure bill, which contains measures to address it.Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

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США: Байден назвав рішення Верховного суду про заборону абортів у Техасі «безпрецедентним нападом» на права жінок

Техаський закон забороняє аборти з моменту, коли можна виявити серцеву активність плоду – найчастіше це стається на шостому тижні вагітності

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Kerry: China’s Coal Binge Could ‘Undo’ Global Capacity to Meet Climate Targets

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry warned Thursday that Beijing’s coal-building spree could “undo” global capacity to meet environmental targets, after holding talks with top officials in China. Tensions between Beijing and Washington have soared in recent months, with the two sides trading barbs on China’s human rights record and its initial handling of the coronavirus. Tackling climate change is among a handful of issues where the two sides had struck notes of harmony. But Beijing has in recent months emphasized that environmental cooperation could be hurt by deteriorating Sino-U.S. relations. Kerry told journalists Thursday evening that the United States has made it “clear that the addition of more coal plants represents a significant challenge to the efforts of the world to deal with the climate crisis.” FILE – Workers put away equipment after coming out of the Datai coal mine in Mentougou, west of Beijing, Jan. 8, 2020.Chinese plans for new coal plants could “undo the capacity of the world to reach net-zero by 2050,” he said, adding that while they had “very constructive” talks, he also was “very direct” on the topic. Despite pledges to reach peak coal consumption before 2030, then move toward carbon neutrality. China brought 38.4 gigawatts of new coal-fired power into operation last year — more than three times the amount brought online elsewhere in the world. China has challenged the United States to fix relations with Beijing in order to make progress on climate change. Kerry urged the Chinese government, however, not to let environmental cooperation be affected by tensions between the world’s two biggest polluters, calling it a “global challenge.” “It is essential … no matter what differences we have, that we have to address the climate crisis,” he said. Foreign Minister Wang Yi had told Kerry earlier in the visit that cooperation on global warming could not be disentangled from broader diplomacy between the two countries. In a video call with the climate envoy, Wang accused Washington of a “major strategic miscalculation toward China,” according to the ministry statement. “It is impossible for China-U.S. climate cooperation to be elevated above the overall environment of China-U.S. relations,” Wang said. He added that “the ball is now in the United States’ court, and the U.S. should stop seeing China as a threat and opponent.” ‘China can do more’ Kerry visited Japan earlier this week before traveling to the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin, in a tour aiming to drum up support for a major global summit to tackle pressing climate issues.  FILE – A coal-burning power plant can be seen behind a factory in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, October 31, 2010.The 26th edition of the U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties — COP26 — in Glasgow in November marks the biggest climate summit since the 2015 Paris negotiation. Kerry said he plans to meet with his Chinese counterparts again before the summit, to push for stronger emission reduction commitments.  The U.S .envoy has repeatedly urged China to step up efforts to reduce carbon emissions. “We have consistently said to China and other countries … to do their best within their given capacity,” Kerry said Thursday. “We think that China can do more.” The country is the world’s current largest emitter of carbon dioxide, followed by the United States, which has historically emitted more than any other nation to date. While Beijing has promised to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060, it continues to be heavily dependent on coal, which fuels nearly 60 percent of its energy consumption. “We have an opportunity to make a positive impact in Glasgow,” Kerry said. “It really depends on the choices that China makes at this point.” 

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ОАСК: Олександр Дубілет хоче зобов’язати МВС видалити інформацію про його розшук

Колишньому голові правління «Приватбанку» оголошені дві підозри в розтраті грошей, він перебуває в розшуку і заочно арештований

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Taliban Detain Former British Soldier, Ending Bid to Evacuate NGO Staff

The Taliban on Thursday briefly detained a former British soldier who was trying to evacuate overland 50 Afghan employees and 350 of their relatives, according to British media reports.  Ben Slater says he launched his own evacuation bid after British officials failed to approve visas in time for his staff, consisting mainly of women, to be airlifted out of Afghanistan last week.The Taliban interrogated him for several hours but then released him, telling him he could cross the border with one assistant, but the rest of his staff had to remain in Afghanistan as none of them had British visas, he told British reporters.”It’s a complete disaster, really. It’s disgusting. It’s beyond horrible,” Slater, chairman of a string of Kabul-based NGOs, told Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper. He and his employees spent two days at a hotel near a border checkpoint before he was detained and interrogated about members of his staff. Slater said he was also questioned about why some of the single women in his party were staying in the hotel without husbands.FILE – People gather at the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport a day after U.S troops withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 31, 2021.A former soldier in Britain’s Royal Military Police, the 37-year-old Slater has been publicly highly critical of Britain’s Foreign Ministry for failing to approve visas in time for his staff to be airlifted out of Afghanistan last month. Slater said Thursday that he had kept British officials informed of his escape plan and asked in advance for them to facilitate a border crossing.Midweek, before leaving Kabul, he told British reporters, “It’s going to be a long trip, and I am hoping on the other end that the FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] have got our visas sorted, or at least have spoken to the foreign affairs ministry in our destination country to allow access for our vulnerable staff.” Growing anger toward RaabSlater’s failed bid to get his staff out of Afghanistan is adding to a political furor in London over last month’s airlift operations by the British government, with pressure mounting on the country’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to resign. Critics, including the chairs of the British Parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committees, have accused Raab of a lack of preparation for the crisis.Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks during a press conference in Doha, Qatar, September 2, 2021.He remained on a family vacation in the Mediterranean as the government of then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani collapsed and the Taliban neared Kabul.”Dominic Raab should have resigned three times by now: for staying on the beach, for his department’s dismal failure to respond to thousands of cases of Afghans trying to get out of the country, and for the fact that potentially thousands of Afghans who helped our soldiers are now left stranded,” the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, said in a statement Wednesday.Britain managed to airlift 17,000 people out of Afghanistan, 8,000 of them Afghans. Since the airlift concluded last week, British officials have suggested about 9,000 Afghans at risk of Taliban reprisals remained in the country, along with 100 to 200 British nationals, some dual citizens. Opposition parties and some lawmakers from Britain’s ruling Conservatives estimate the number is much higher, and Raab acknowledged Wednesday he couldn’t give a “definitive” figure for the number of Afghans eligible to be resettled in Britain because they worked for British security forces. More than 5,000 emails from Afghans to the British Foreign Office are still to be read, he conceded when questioned in the House of Commons. Afghan refugeesSlater’s failed bid to cross a land border with his staff also is adding to fears that the Taliban won’t keep promises made this week to Western leaders to allow Afghans to leave the country unhindered and unharmed. Taliban leaders have said Afghans who have passports and visas will be able to leave when commercial flights resume but have said little about Afghans leaving overland.Britain dispatched one of its top diplomats, Simon Gass, to Doha on Monday for face-to-face talks with Taliban leaders about securing safe passage for British nationals and at-risk Afghans who remain in Afghanistan. Gass chairs Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee. Canadian diplomats also have met with the Taliban in Qatar to discuss issues of safe passage. Neighboring countries have largely closed their borders. All the neighboring states remain reluctant to open their borders and have little appetite to see an influx of refugees. Pakistan already hosts 1.4 million documented Afghan refugees, and Iran 780,000. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghans also are believed to live in both countries, and in recent years, both Iran and Pakistan have increased deportations.The U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has urged Afghanistan’s neighbors to reopen their borders. “We’ve been intensifying our calls over the last week to neighboring countries to keep their borders open because of the gravity of the situation, and if any Afghans are unable to reach safety, that risks lives,” Kathryn Mahoney, UNHCR’s global spokesperson, told VOA this week.Taliban fighters wave as they patrol in a convoy along a street in Kabul on Sept. 2, 2021.UNHCR officials note 3.5 million Afghans are already displaced from their homes in Afghanistan, and worry that drought, rising unemployment and a banking collapse in that country could drive hundreds of thousands of people to the borders. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have indicated they are ready to serve as transit countries for Afghan refugees but also have said they don’t want large permanent settlements. Officials in Dushanbe and Tashkent say they don’t have the economic resources to cope. They also fear complicating their relations with Afghanistan’s new rulers, say Western diplomats. This week, The Wall Street Journal reported the Uzbeks are pressing Washington to transport out of Uzbekistan a group of Afghan military pilots who fled to Tashkent. Uzbekistan remains closed, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry. Tajikistan may allow some entry after the country’s Independence Day celebration on September 20. After a five-hour meeting, interior ministers from the European Union’s 27 member states agreed Tuesday that the bloc should offer financial support for Afghanistan’s neighbors to manage the refugee crisis at their borders. There was no confirmation about how much money the bloc is considering, but privately officials say the number being considered is 1 billion euros. EU national leaders, as well as the European Commission, are fearful the continent could see a massive influx of Afghan refugees and a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis that roiled Europe politically and fueled the rise of populist nationalist parties. The refugees came not only from Syria but Iraq, Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa. The offer of large payments to Afghanistan’s neighbors would be modeled on the agreement the EU struck with Turkey in 2016 to shelter refugees, while at the same time helping to block them from traveling to EU countries.   It isn’t clear whether Afghanistan’s neighbors will accept such a deal. Pakistan’s national security adviser, Moeed Yusuf, appeared scornful Wednesday of the EU’s plan. “We house over 4 million Afghan refugees, this when the conversation in the West is about five more refugees is too many,” he told European broadcasters. He has been urging Western powers to engage politically with the Taliban and offer them financial support to prevent a refugee crisis. 

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Українські військові показали відео, як рятували афганців біля аеропорту в Кабулі

Щоб знайти і безпечно забрати людей із евакуаційного списку, спецпризначенці ГУР пішки виходили за межі захищеного периметра аеропорту

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‘Hunger Games’ Evacuations as US Left Afghanistan

When the U.S. ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan this week, the Biden administration underscored the success of the evacuation effort from Hamid Karzai International Airport.”No nation, no nation has ever done anything like it in all of history,” said President Joe Biden from the White House on Tuesday, the day the U.S. completed its Afghan military withdrawal.The administration has said the massive airlift evacuated most of the remaining Americans in the country, as well as thousands of Afghan interpreters, activists, journalists and other groups that have been targeted by the Taliban.But thousands of others are left behind. Frustrated U.S. diplomats, military officials and civilian personnel involved in the effort tell VOA it was a haphazard process that left out many people who qualified for evacuation.Haseeb Kamal and his wife were married on August 14th, the day before Kabul fall. She did not make it through the airport gate. (Courtesy photo)He pleaded with the Marines to allow his father and sister to join him on a flight despite them only having Afghan documents and none of the typical U.S. paperwork required for entry.”Don’t you dare kick them out (of the airport),” Kamal said to the Marines, who finally allowed them to stay.Kamal and his sister, Bibi Sara, are now living with family in the U.S. state of Virginia, while their father is still being processed in Fort Lee, a military base in the same state.’Ever-changing rules’Rules about which individuals could evacuate were “ever-changing,” said a diplomatic source on the ground who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity. That meant family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as Special Immigrant Visa applicants, may have been allowed into the airport one day, but not the next.”What constituted as proper documentation changed nightly,” he said.The diplomat said that on at least one day during the early phase of evacuation, local staff of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul were given instructions via email to go to the East Gate. Their extended families were processed despite lacking documentation such as Afghan passports, national IDs, or SIV applications, and whether they had “credible fear” of retaliation by the Taliban. As long as they said they were local embassy staff or their families, individuals were able to get in, he said.It was easy to confirm who is an embassy staff member, the diplomat said, but family connections were more difficult to determine.”These guys who have come in with large extended families, members with weak documentation … how do you vet that?” the officer said, adding that sometimes groups were waived through nevertheless.”We had to make a quick moral calculus – send them back out to the Taliban check point and potentially in danger or move them forward.”Those who were not U.S. citizens, permanent residents or holders of valid visas were sent to third countries referred to as “lily-pads” to be vetted.On other days, stricter guidelines meant extended families including parents and siblings of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents were not allowed entry. At points where people were screened, some officers followed the rule while others were more relaxed, he said.On Monday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby defended the work of the troops.”Without speaking to these reports, the Marines and the soldiers that for the last couple of weeks have been helping consular officers man the gates and process them did heroic work,” Kirby told VOA. “And they had to make decisions in real time about trying to help people get out.””A lot of lives were saved, and a lot of lives are now in a better place,” Kirby said.Many lives were saved, in some instances possibly because the rules were so flexible at times. Haseeb Kamal, the former interpreter, said he met a family with only two U.S. citizens who brought 30 people in with them.”I had no information that I could bring all of my family,” Kamal said. “What shocked me was how they knew.”Hundreds of people gather, some holding documents, on Aug. 26, 2021, near an evacuation control checkpoint on the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan.After Kabul’s fall, around the clock missionA State Department spokesperson defended the Kabul airlift, telling VOA that “the Biden administration has demonstrated, in the face of significant challenges, its sacrosanct commitment to the thousands of brave Afghans who have stood-by-side with the United States over the course of the past two decades.”After Kabul fell to the Taliban, the State Department flew diplomats from around the world to the Afghan capital. Diplomats and American troops worked around the clock to evacuate as many Americans and vulnerable Afghans as they could.An American civilian source on the ground who witnessed the evacuation said their efforts were “remarkable.” “Their empathy and humanity was admirable,” he said.A US Marine carries a baby during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 28. (US Marine Corps photo)However aid groups which were involved say despite the massive effort by diplomats and soldiers, the airlift was plagued by problems.”There appears to be at best very problematic and at worst no rhyme or reason for who’s getting into the gates,” said Mark Jacobson, who helped organize evacuees. Jacobson served in 2006 in Afghanistan as a naval intelligence officer and from 2009-2011 as the deputy NATO representative and deputy political adviser at the International Security Assistance Force.”For those of us who are helping to get Afghans out, it does certainly appear as though the SOP (standard operating procedure) doesn’t just change day to day but hour to hour,” Jacobson said.Jacobson said the inconsistencies were partly due to the multiple departments involved.”When we get to our State people, they say it’s DOD. When we get to the DOD people they say it’s State,” Jacobson said referring to departments of State and Defense.VOA asked the White House whether inconsistent policies and a lack of coordination between the State Department and the Pentagon resulted in vulnerable Afghans left behind while those who were not at-risk individuals were evacuated.”I have no confirmation of what you’ve just outlined,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “What I will tell you is that 117,000, approximately — many of them Afghans who — people who are not American citizens — were evacuated. That’s more people than ever in any airlift in U.S. history.”In this image provided by the US Air Force, aircrew prepare to load qualified evacuees aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 21, 2021.The administration has not provided a full breakdown of evacuee nationalities and their immigration status. On Wednesday the White House said that 77 percent of the evacuees that have arrived in the U.S. since August 17 were Afghans including “SIV and other visa holders, SIV applicants, P-1 and P-2 referrals, and others.”State Department spokesman Ned Price said a total of 31,107 people arrived in the U.S. from Afghanistan between August 17 and August 31.Warren Binford, a law professor at the University of Colorado, was part of a remote, entirely digital network of volunteers who, she estimates, assisted 1,400 Afghans in getting out.”The State Department had been put in charge of an evacuation from a warzone,” she said, contending that as a result the military did not have the full command of the operation. They learned to “pivot and adapt on a constant ongoing basis”, she said.Another individual, who asked not to be named because he wanted to protect the Afghans he is still trying to evacuate, described the evacuation process as “chaos.”A convoy of 130 people he organized was turned away after waiting for 18 hours. The plane took off without them, their seats empty.Another source, a former U.S. government official assisting evacuation who also asked not to be named, confirmed that the majority of Afghans in their group who were direct family members of American citizens (e.g. children, spouses) were turned away, even when their names were on flight manifests.The Marines blocking them said their orders from the State Department were to only allow American citizens and legal permanent residents. The former official said that should not have been the rule for charter flights for authorized individuals who are identified as at-risk, such as humanitarian organization employees, SIVs, women leaders, and their families.”Why isn’t the manifest being shared at the gate?” the former official lamented, also confirming that many of the privately arranged flights left with no one on board.The private group sources said the likelihood of evacuation depended in part on luck and on contacts inside the airport and in Washington, and who can get them past Taliban check points, past the Marines at the airport gates, into the terminal, on the tarmac and eventually on planes heading to safety.”It’s like The Hunger Games,” the former government official source said.One such group of hundreds of Afghans were rescued by the “Pineapple Express” – a secret mission run by U.S. military veterans who defied orders to stay within the security perimeter and scooped up their Afghan allies outside of the airport in a daring operation first reported by ABC News.”What is making us so incredibly sad is the seriously at-risk Afghans who don’t have the privilege of those connections, that are being left behind,” the former government official source said.Afghans wait in long lines for hours to try to withdraw money, in front of Bank in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 30, 2021. The Taliban have limited weekly withdrawals to $200.’Haunted’ by choicesA senior State Department official involved in the evacuation on the ground said they had the legal obligation to prioritize Americans. The operation involved “some really painful trade-offs” and officers are “haunted by the choices we had to make, and by the people we were not able to help depart,” the official said.Administration officials have repeatedly said that U.S. commitment to evacuate the potentially thousands or more vulnerable Afghans, as well as the remaining 200 or so individuals who self-identify as Americans and want to leave, is “enduring.””We will have means and mechanisms of having diplomats on the ground being able to continue to process out those applicants and facilitate passage of other people who want to leave Afghanistan,” Jen Psaki said Monday.One interpreter, who submitted his SIV application in 2014 and whose former U.S. Army colleagues enlisted three U.S. Senators to try to get him evacuated, is now in limbo after he and his wife and seven children failed to gain access to the airport.Jamshid, who did not give his real name for fear of retribution, told VOA that he traveled from outside of Kabul and spent 11 days trying to get inside the airport before giving up.”For now we are doing well,” he said. “But me and my family are worrying about our safety… because I have worked four years with U.S. army as interpreter.”On Sunday, the United States and 97 other countries announced the Taliban has assured them that foreign nationals and Afghans with visas from those countries will be allowed out of the country after the August 31 deadline. The Taliban released a statement saying all airports will be open to allow those who wish to leave Afghanistan.The day after the U.S. withdrawal, Jamshid received an email from the U.S. State Department assuring him that the U.S. will continue efforts to help them. The email instructed SIV applicants who want to transfer their case to an embassy or consulate outside of Afghanistan to submit their inquiry online.The success of that effort will depend in part on the willingness of the Taliban to help their former battlefield enemies.”It’s not easy to go to a third country,” Jamshid said.VOA’s Nike Ching, Carolyn Presutti, Anita Powell, Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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EU Defense Ministers Mull Rapid Response Force after Afghanistan’s Fall

European Union defense ministers discussed Thursday how to better respond to future crises following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, including the creation of a rapid response force.As they met in Slovenia to discuss lessons learned from the chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan, Germany proposed that willing coalition members be enabled to create a rapid deployment military force of 5,000 troops to respond to crises, with less reliance on the United States.EU efforts to develop a rapid reaction force have been dormant for more than a decade. But the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan have forced the 27-nation bloc to revisit the issue.The proposal to establish a 5,000-member force was first raised in May during a review of the bloc’s overall strategy. EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell said at Thursday’s meeting he hoped a plan would be finalized by November.The EU’s overall strategy is expected to be finalized next year.“It’s clear that the need for more European defense has never been as much as evident as today after the events in Afghanistan,” Borrell said. “Sometimes, something happens that pushes the history. It creates a breakthrough, and I think the Afghanistan events of this summer are one of these cases,” Borrell added.The Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan and the rushed aerial evacuations of tens of thousands of people after the U.S. decision to pull out troops have exposed the EU’s reliance on the U.S. While EU troops were on the sidelines during the evacuation, the U.S. supported European countries in efforts to evacuate their citizens and troops.