Biden Commits to Evacuating All Americans From Afghanistan, Even if Troops Have to Stay Past Deadline
The president’s latest commitment came in response to concerns that his current withdrawal date of Aug. 31 is too unrealistic if the U.S. hopes to fly all hopeful refugees and Americans out of the country.
Biden Admits Aug. 31 Withdrawal May Be Pushed Back
In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Joe Biden finally conceded that the U.S. may not be able to pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan by his quickly approaching Aug. 31 deadline.
Biden has been rigid regarding the current U.S. objective to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31, and in this at time tense interview, he was no less adamant; however, for the first time, he has confirmed that the U.S. would stay beyond that date so long as there are Americans still seeking to flee the country.
“We’ve got like 10 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now, right?” Stephanopoulos asked in the interview, which was published Wednesday. “Are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out is out?”
“Yes,” Biden said.
“How about our Afghan allies?” Stephanopoulos followed up. “Does the commitment hold for them as well?”
“The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone that should come out,” Biden said. “And that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now, that’s the path we’re on, and I think we’ll get there.”
“So Americans should understand that troops might have to be there beyond Aug. 31st?” Stephanopoulos pressed in an attempt to have the president give a clear answer on whether he was willing to push back his current timeline.
“No, Americans should understand that we’re gonna try to get it done before Aug. 31st,” Biden said.
“But if we don’t, the troops will stay—” Stephanopoulos said
“If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left,” Biden said.
“And?” Stephanopoulos continued to press.
“And if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,” Biden admitted.
Biden Pressed on “Highly Unlikely” Takeover Comments
During another part of the interview, Stephanopoulos sought to hold Biden accountable for a comment he made last month when he said a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely.”
“Was the intelligence wrong, or did you downplay it?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I think — there was no consensus,” Biden responded. “If you go back and look at the intelligence reports, they said that it’s more likely to be sometime by the end of the year.”
“You didn’t put a timeline on it when you said it was highly unlikely,” Stephanopoulos pushed back. “You just said flat out it’s highly unlikely the Taliban would take over.”
“Yeah, well, the question was whether or not it — the idea that the Taliban would take over was premised on the notion that somehow, the 300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was gonna just collapse, they were gonna give up,” Biden said. “I don’t think anybody anticipated that.”
Stephanopoulos went on to ask if the last week has been “a failure of intelligence, planning, execution, or judgment” on the part of the U.S. government.
Biden said that he doesn’t consider it a failure. Rather, he said the rapid downfall of Afghanistan was a result of the country’s president quickly fleeing, as well as the sudden collapse of Afghan troops.
“There is no good time to leave Afghanistan,” he later added. “Fifteen years ago would’ve been a problem, 15 years from now [would be a problem]. The basic choice is am I gonna send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan in perpetuity?”
“We spent over $1 trillion, George. 20 years. There was no good time to leave.”
“But if there’s no good time, if you know you’re gonna have to leave eventually, why not have everything in place to make sure Americans could get out, to make sure our Afghan allies get out, so we don’t have these chaotic scenes in Kabul?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“As you know, the intelligence community did not say back in June or July that, in fact, this was gonna collapse like it did,” Biden said.
“They thought the Taliban would take over, but not this quickly?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“But not this quickly,” Biden reiterated. “Not even close.”
At a press briefing the same day, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also stressed that point, saying, “Nothing I saw indicated a collapse of this government in 11 days.”
What’s Happening in Kabul?
The U.S. has reportedly evacuated 7,000 since Saturday. Officials hope to increase that capacity to 5,000 to 9,000 a day before the U.S. pulls out.
In Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the Taliban clashed with protesters Thursday. According to several reports, the protesters had been peacefully chanting while waving the flag of their now-overthrown government. That then led to Taliban fighters firing into the air, though some also appeared to take aim at the crowd, according to viral video.
In a desperate attempt to find new lives for their children whatever the cost, another video shows Afghan mothers throwing their babies over barbed wire to UK troops at the airport in Kabul.
See what others are saying: (ABC News) (New York Post) (NPR)
White Supremacist Propaganda Reached Record High in 2022, ADL Finds
“We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
White supremacist propaganda in the U.S. reached record levels in 2022, according to a report published Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center of Extremism.
The ADL found over 6,700 cases of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, which marks a 38% jump from the nearly 4,900 cases the group found in 2021. It also represents the highest number of incidents ever recorded by the ADL.
The propaganda tallied by the anti-hate organization includes the distribution of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic flyers, banners, graffiti, and more. This propaganda has spread substantially since 2018, when the ADL found just over 1,200 incidents.
“There’s no question that white supremacists and antisemites are trying to terrorize and harass Americans with their propaganda,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash.”
The report found that there were at least 50 white supremacist groups behind the spread of propaganda in 2022, but 93% of it came from just three groups. One of those groups was also responsible for 43% of the white supremacist events that took place last year.
White supremacist events saw a startling uptick of their own, with the ADL documenting at least 167, a 55% jump from 2021.
Propaganda was found in every U.S. state except for Hawaii, and events were documented in 33 states, most heavily in Massachusetts, California, Ohio, and Florida.
“The sheer volume of white supremacist propaganda distributions we are documenting around the country is alarming and dangerous,” Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL’s Center on Extremism said in a statement. “Hardly a day goes by without communities being targeted by these coordinated, hateful actions, which are designed to sow anxiety and create fear.”
“We need a whole-of-society approach to combat this activity, including elected officials, community leaders, and people of good faith coming together and condemning this activity forcefully,” Segal continued.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (The New York Times)
Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years.
Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.
According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes.
On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.
“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press.
However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.
Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million.
If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.
Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.
As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval.
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)
Immigration Could Be A Solution to Nursing Home Labor Shortages
98% of nursing homes in the United States are experiencing difficulty hiring staff.
The Labor Crisis
A recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper has offered up a solution to the nursing home labor shortage: immigration.
According to a 2022 American Health Care Association survey, six in ten nursing homes are limiting new patients due to staffing issues. The survey also says that 87% of nursing homes have staffing shortages and 98% are experiencing difficulty hiring.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) outlined in their paper that increased immigration could help solve the labor shortage in nursing homes. Immigrants make up 19% of nursing home workers.
With every 10% increase in female immigration, nursing assistant hours go up by 0.7% and registered nursing hours go up by 1.1% And with that same immigration increase, short-term hospitalizations of nursing home residents go down by 0.6%.
Additionally, the State Department issued 145% more EB-3 documents, which are employment-based visas, for healthcare workers in the 2022 fiscal year than in 2019, suggesting that more people are coming to the U.S. to work in health care.
However, according to Skilled Nursing News, in August of 2022, the approval process from beginning to end for an RN can take between seven to nine months.
Displeasure about immigration has exploded since Pres. Joe Biden took office in 2021. According to a Gallup study published in February, around 40% of American adults want to see immigration decrease. That is a steep jump from 19% in 2021, and it is the highest the figure has been since 2016.
However, more than half of Democrats still are satisfied with immigration and want to see it increased. But with a divided Congress, the likelihood of any substantial immigration change happening is pretty slim.