The neatly arranged office toys and management guru books were still on the desk from the previous government official. But their Taliban replacement had added his own executive touches, including one of the movement’s white religious banners and a captured M4 carbine once used by an Afghan commando.
Spotlessly turned out in white robes and a black turban, the bearded official in his 30s was polite and offered tea, but declined to give his name because he did not have permission to speak and only said he was a “manager”.
“We are very happy that we are now the leaders of the government,” he told The Telegraph. “We want to have good relations with all the rest of the world. We want to work with foreigners and have good relations.”
The Telegraph’s unannounced visit to the government building now in the hands of the Taliban was a relaxed affair. The offer of tea was made with a warm welcome inside, part of a charm offensive by the Islamist leaders who until not too long ago viewed Western journalists with suspicion.
Until the new Taliban government had been announced and formal appointments could be made, the official said he had the job of securing the office belonging to the finance ministry, using a retinue of wild-looking Taliban footsoldiers to stand guard.
The Taliban takeover has seen thousands of such fighters descend on the capital Kabul, many of them from insurgency heartlands such as Kandahar and Helmand. Often sporting large turbans and unruly long hair and beards as well as weapons, these rural militiamen are a far cry from the sophisticated and fashionable Kabul residents they have come to watch over. After arriving, they drive around in pick-up trucks or stand guard at checkpoints.
“When I used to come to the city, I had to sneak in like a thief, in case the government caught me. I could not even walk freely in my own country,” said one fighter from Kapisa, who was wrapped in an orange shawl and camouflage jacket and standing guard outside the shuttered British embassy.
“Now we are in charge. We never thought we would see a victory like this.”
The tumultuous changes of the past month have meant Taliban fighters are now guarding the very same ministries and hotels that they were trying to attack only a few weeks ago. At another ministry building a commander from near Spin Boldak in Kandahar province spoke into a walkie-talkie and oversaw his men as they checked people in for appointments.
The commander, who gave his name only as Nisar, said he had joined the insurgents some 18 years ago.
“We are happy that we are victorious. We fought for 20 years. We want Islamic law, and not just in Afghanistan.”
Refusing to speak English
He revealed he could speak excellent English, but then refused to do so, saying he did not want to speak the language used by the invaders. “I won’t speak English with you because I don’t like it,” he told the Telegraph.
“I joined the Taliban because when the Americans came, we had our government, our culture and the Americans came and attacked us.
“They didn’t want to come for al-Qaeda, they had their own interests and wanted to destroy our country.”
In recent years his fighters had largely fought in Kandahar and Helmand, he said, where they had often clashed with British forces.
Now he echoed the pronouncements of the movement’s spokesmen saying that their revived emirate would learn from the mistakes of its 1990s predecessor.
“At that time there was no opportunity for us to govern properly, because there was a lot of fighting. This time, it will be a little bit different, but we have our Islamic law,” he said.”
Many in Kabul do not believe them. Nearly three weeks after the Taliban takeover, Kabul’s streets are still noticeably quiet, though gradually getting busier. Women in particular are seen less than they were. During the Taliban’s 1990s regime, women were not allowed to work outside the home, or leave without a male chaperone, and girls’ schools were banned.
As the commander was speaking to The Telegraph, across town a small group of women’s rights activists was holding a protest, which was broken up by the militants’ special forces firing into the air. The women’s march began peacefully with a wreath-laying outside Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry to honour Afghan soldiers who died fighting the Taliban.
Film of the protest showed the women being jostled and shouting: “Why are you beating us!”. Local news channels later showed a protestor bleeding from a gash on her head.
For the Taliban footsoldiers in Kabul there was either incomprehension at the protests, or hostility.
“Those women are Westernised and they want a Western government and they are against Islamic law. In Islam there’s great respect for women. I wonder why they are protesting,” said one young fighter from Kapisa also standing outside the British embassy.
Almost all said they viewed the Americans and British as invaders and infidels and said it had been impossible for their troops to remain in Afghanistan.
“They are infidels and we don’t want infidel soldiers in our country and they don’t respect our law and our culture,” said one.
But they were also curious to talk to a British journalist and drink tea. Asked about how they were paid by the Taliban, they claimed they did not fight for salaries and only received food while they were fighting.
Warning for the West
“This emirate will be forever,” chimed in another of Nisar’s fighters. “The West should not come another time. If they do, we will fight for another 20 years.”
As the Taliban continued to get to grips with Kabul, the militants clashed with opposition forces holding out in the Panjshir valley north of the city.
With all phone lines cut to the rugged valley, it was difficult to determine how far the Taliban had reached. An international aid group called Emergency said the militants had pushed into the valley as far as the village of Anabah, where the charity runs a hospital.
“Many people have fled from local villages in recent days,” a statement said.
A spokesman for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which groups opposition forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said Taliban forces reached the Darband heights on the border between Kapisa province and Panjshir, but were pushed back.
A Taliban source told Reuters fighting was continuing in Panjshir, but that the advance had been slowed by landmines placed on the road to the capital Bazarak and the provincial governor’s compound.
Meanwhile, hopes were raised that the country’s humanitarian crisis could be eased after Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan said a technical team was able to reopen Kabul airport to receive aid.
Qatar’s Al Jazeera news channel also reported that domestic flights had restarted after the airport’s runway had been repaired. Flights resumed to Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar, it was reported.
Kabul airport had been closed since the end of the massive rescue airlift of foreign nationals and Afghans who had helped the doomed international mission to prop up Ashraf Ghani’s government. Thousands of vulnerable Afghans failed to get out and are now trapped with flights stopped and land borders either closed or overrun with crowds.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, speaking at a joint news conference with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Doha last week said the Gulf state was talking to the Taliban and working with Turkey for potential technical support to restart operations in Kabul airport.
A Colorado hiker lost for 24 hours ignored rescuers’ attempts to reach them because they didn’t recognize the phone number
A hiker set out to trek Colorado’s highest peak for 24 hours on October 18.
They were reported missing, and a search-and-rescue operation was carried out through the night.
While the search was underway, the person ignored calls; they didn’t recognize the phone number.
A Colorado hiker who got lost on a trail ignored calls from search-and-rescue officials who tried to locate him for 24 hours, because they didn’t recognize the number repeatedly calling them, according to the New York Post.
According to the officials, the hiker set out at 9:00 a.m. on October 18, and by 8 p.m. that evening, they began searching for him when an individual reported that he had not returned from his hike.
“Multiple attempts to contact the subject via their cell phone were unsuccessful,” the post said.
The officials said that first, a team of five set out at 11 p.m. to search for the missing hiker and stayed out until 3 a.m. on October 19. A team of three picked up the search a few hours later, at 7 a.m., looking in areas that hikers typically get lost.
But by 9:30 a.m. the following day, the search was called off.
“At approximately 0930 the reporting party reported the subject had returned to their place of lodging. All personnel were out of the field by 1000,” the post said.
The officials said the individual “lost the trail around nightfall and spent the night searching for the trail, and once on the trail, bounced around onto different trails trying to locate the proper trailhead.”
The missing hiker reached their car the next morning and 24 hours after they set out for the day hike, and had no idea a search and rescue operation was underway because they declined calls coming in from the officials.
“One notable take-away is that the subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number,” the officials said. “If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team trying to confirm you’re safe!”
Read the original article on Insider
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ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
The NFL announced that replay official Carl Madsen died on Sunday at the age of 71. Madsen died on his way home after working the Week Seven game between the Titans and Chiefs. He had spent the last 12 years as a replay official and had previously spent 12 years as an on-field official. “Carl [more]
A fire broke out on a cargo ship after about 40 shipping containers fell overboard due to rough seas off the coast of Vancouver Island
Around 40 shipping containers went overboard when a cargo ship hit rough seas on Friday.
A fire broke out Saturday on the same ship, the Zim Kingston, while anchored near Vancouver Island.
US and Canadian officials are monitoring the situation, including some containers with “hazardous materials.”
A fire broke out Saturday on a cargo ship, known as the Zim Kingston, that had lost around 40 shipping containers off the coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island the day before, officials said.
The US Coast Guard said in a tweet Friday they were monitoring adrift shipping containers that went overboard after an inbound vessel en route to Canada encountered rough seas. Photos shared by the coast guard showed some of the shipping containers afloat in the open ocean.
The US Coast Guard said Friday 35 floating containers had been located. As of Saturday, five had still not been located, and officials were warning other vessels to be extremely cautious in the area as the containers “may be partially submerged and not visible,” the Vancouver Sun reported.
The Canadian Coast Guard told the outlet some of the containers that fell held hazardous materials, and that the agency would assess for any “pollution threats and hazards.”
A day after the containers fell from the Zim Kingston, a fire broke out on the ship while it was anchored near Victoria, according to the Canadian Coast Guard. The agency told CHEK News reporter Jasmine Bala the fire started in damaged containers that were still onboard.
The Canadian Coast Guard told Bala two of the six containers that are on fire contain “hazardous material.” They also said 10 crew members were evacuated while 11 remain on the ship, with no reports of injuries.
In a warning to other vessels, the Canadian Coast Guard established an emergency zone around the Zim Kingston, saying: “The ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas. Two fallen containers are floating in the vicinity of the vessel. Caution.”
Read the original article on Business Insider
Obama criticizes Youngkin in Va. governor’s race
RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) -Former U.S. President Barack Obama urged Virginians to re-elect Terry McAuliffe as governor at a rally on Saturday, emphasizing the race’s significance as an indicator of the country’s political direction and a reflection of its values. Obama and McAuliffe, who served as the state’s governor from 2014 to 2018, spoke before a cheering crowd at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond with just 10 days to go before the closely watched, tight Nov. 2 election. Obama told the crowd the Virginia election represented a national “turning point,” where Americans could either become more embattled in the divisive politics that characterized Republican Donald Trump’s presidency and which culminated in an attack by Trump’s supporters on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, or “pull together” to “solve big problems.”
Fans can’t get over Will Poulter’s transformation as he prepares for Marvel role
Will Poulter is surprising fans with his buff new look.
The former child star is preparing for his role as Marvel superhero Adam Warlock in director James Gunn’s upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” — and it’s no exaggeration to say Poulter is looking muscled up in his latest Instagram video.
The “Dopesick” actor’s fans are taking notice of his physical transformation, with one admirer posting a video on TikTok featuring before-and-after shots of Poulter. “I can’t believe this glow-up,” the fan wrote.
More fans responded to celebrate Poulter’s new chiseled look on Twitter, with one wondering, “sorry when did will poulter get sexy????”
“Holy moly. It *is* true. Will Poulter got jacked,” gushed another.
“omg he looks like hemsworth, someone else chimed in.
Poulter found fame at age 15 after playing Lee Carter in the 2008 movie “Son of Rambow.” After appearing alongside Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston in the 2013 comedy “We’re the Millers,” the London-born actor went on to star in the sci-fi flick “The Maze Runner” (2014). He also turned in notable performances in “The Revenant” (2015), “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” (2018), and the critically acclaimed horror movie “Midsommar” (2019).
Gunn confirmed on Twitter that Poulter had won the role of Adam Warlock in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” writing on Oct. 11, “As you guys know I often strike down false rumors, so … um … Welcome to the Guardians family, Will Poulter. He’s an amazing actor and wonderful guy.”
Poulter responded to say he was thrilled to appear in the movie, which is scheduled to hit theaters in May 2023. “Thank you, James. It’s a genuine honour to play this role and to work with you. I’m very excited to get to work,” the English actor wrote.
Just one week later, a reporter for the movie and entertainment blog Flip Your Wig asked Poulter if he was ready to “flex” some serious superhero muscle.
“I better get ready, I guess,” he responded, adding, “Working on it, working on it.”
CORRECTION (Oct. 23, 2021, 1:15 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the age Poulter found fame. He was 15 when the 2008 movie “Son of Rambow” was released.
Video emerges of Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ co-star Jensen Ackles speaking about the production’s firearm training days before fatal set shooting
“Rust” actor Jensen Ackles discussed firearms training days before a fatal on-set shooting.
In a video, Ackles said he was asked by a prop master to fire “off a couple of rounds” on the set.
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the “Rust” set on Thursday.
A video depicting Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” co-star Jensen Ackles discussing the firearms training he received on the film’s set days before the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot during filming has surfaced online.
In the video, which has now been deleted in many places but remains available on Youtube and TikTok, Ackles describes a brief training session he had with the film’s armorer – the technical crew member responsible for prop firearms.
The clip was filmed between Oct. 15-17 when Ackles’ appeared at a fan event in Denver for his show Supernatural, according to Deadline.
“They had me pick my gun, they were like, ‘Alright, what gun would you like?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know,'” Ackles can be seen saying in the view.
He continued: “The armorer was like, ‘Do you have gun experience?’ I was like, ‘A little.’ And she’s like, ‘Okay, well, this is how you load it, this is how we check it and make sure it’s safe.'”
Ackles added that the armorer said she was “going to put some blanks” into the gun. He was then instructed to practice for his scene by firing “off a couple of rounds” into the distance.
“I walk out, and she’s like, ‘Just make sure you pull the hammer all the way back and aim at your target,’ I was like, ‘All right, I got it,'” he said.
No information has been released by authorities that links Jensen to the fatal shooting on the film’s set. It is also not clear whether the same armorer Jensen referenced in the video had worked with Alec Baldwin, who discharged the prop gun that killed 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Multiple reports have confirmed that the gun Alec Baldwin discharged on the film’s set held “live rounds.” According to an affidavit, Baldwin was handed the gun by an assistant director, who said “cold gun,” The New York Times and the Associated Press reported. The term refers to a gun that is not loaded with live rounds.
In a statement given to Insider on Friday, Hutchins’ husband, Matthew, reacted to his wife’s death.
“I don’t think there are words to communicate the situation,” Matthew Hutchins, 38, said. “I am not going to be able to comment about the facts or the process of what we’re going through right now, but I appreciate that everyone has been very sympathetic.”
He added, “I think that we will need a little bit of time before we can really encapsulate her life in a way that is easy to communicate.”
Read the original article on Insider
Marcy Venture Partners, cofounded by Jay-Z, just closed its second fund with $325 million – TechCrunch
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