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White House quietly corrects Biden on number of US citizens stuck in Afghanistan after war-ending speech

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The White House quietly corrected President Joe Biden after he said in a speech Tuesday that 90% of U.S. citizens who wanted to evacuate Afghanistan were able to leave.

A transcript of his remarks, delivered from the White House, shows that figure crossed out and replaced with 98%, which still falls short of the president’s promise to keep U.S. military forces in the country until every U.S. citizen seeking an escape could get one.

“Now, we believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave. Most of those who remain are dual citizens, longtime residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan. The bottom line: 90% of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave,” Biden said in his speech.

Biden also said the evacuations of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies from Kabul’s international airport was “one of the biggest airlifts” in history, “with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety.”

“For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline,” he also said. “We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out. Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken is leading the continued diplomatic efforts to ensure a safe passage for any American, Afghan partner, or foreign national who wants to leave Afghanistan.”

The United States charged into war in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001, seeking to root out al Qaeda. The speech marked the end of the nearly 20-year war, the longest in U.S. history, on the day of the deadline he set for the U.S. troop withdrawal from the country.

After being pulled out of the country, ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline set by Biden, thousands of U.S. troops were sent back into Afghanistan this month to help with evacuations of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies as the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban took over. A suicide blast outside the airport gates on Thursday, an attack for which an Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility, killed 13 U.S. service members and scores of others.

(White House)

Biden said earlier this month, in an interview with ABC News, that U.S. military forces would not leave Afghanistan until all U.S. citizens who wanted to leave the country were evacuated.

“If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,” he said.

‘WE WILL GET YOU OUT’: WHITE HOUSE PROMISES NOT TO ‘FORGET’ STRANDED AFGHAN INTERPRETER WHO HELPED BIDEN IN SNOWSTORM

During his remarks Tuesday, Biden also botched the name of the rescue mission, calling it “Operation Allied Rescue.” The White House transcript shows that crossed out and the correct name, Operation Allies Refuge, added in brackets.

He said the operation “ended up getting more than 5,500 Americans out. We got out thousands of citizens and diplomats from those countries that went into Afghanistan with us to get bin Laden. We got out locally employed staff of the United States Embassy and their families, totaling roughly 2,500 people.”

“We got thousands of Afghan translators and interpreters and others, who supported the United States, out as well.Now we believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave. Most of those who remain are dual citizens, long-time residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan,” Biden added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a speech on Monday the U.S. has moved its diplomatic operations from its embassy in Afghanistan to Doha, Qatar.

He also said fewer than “200, likely closer to 100” U.S. citizens who want to leave the country remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal, and the administration will try to help them get out of the country.

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“We made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country — in many cases talking, and sometimes walking them into the airport,” Blinken said. “Of those who self-identified as Americans in Afghanistan, who were considering leaving the country, we’ve thus far received confirmation that about 6,000 have been evacuated or otherwise departed. This number will likely continue to grow as our outreach and arrivals continue.

“We believe there are still a small number of Americans — under 200 and likely closer to 100 – who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave. We’re trying to determine exactly how many. We’re going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists, and we’ll have more details to share, as soon as possible. Part of the challenge with fixing a precise number is that there are long-time residents of Afghanistan who have American passports, and who were trying to determine whether or not they wanted to leave. Many are dual-citizen Americans with deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan, who have resided there for many years. For many, it’s a painful choice,” he added. “Our commitment to them and to all Americans in Afghanistan — and everywhere in the world — continues.”

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Tags: News, Joe Biden, White House, Afghanistan, National Security

Original Author: Daniel Chaitin, Jerry Dunleavy

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India tests nuclear-capable missile amid tensions with China

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India has test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,125 miles) from an island off its east coast amid rising border tensions with China.

The successful launch on Wednesday was in line with “India’s policy to have credible minimum deterrence that underpins the commitment to no first use,” said a government statement.

The Agni-5 missile splashed down in the Bay of Bengal with “a very high degree of accuracy,” said the statement issued on Wednesday night.

Beijing’s powerful missile arsenal has driven New Delhi to improve its weapons systems in recent years, with the Agni-5 believed to be able to strike nearly all of China.

India is already able to strike anywhere inside neighboring Pakistan, its archrival against whom it has fought three wars since gaining independence from British colonialists in 1947.

India has been developing its medium- and long-range nuclear and missile systems since the 1990s amid increasing strategic competition with China in a major boost to the country’s defense capabilities.

Tension between them flared last year over a long-disputed section of their border in the mountainous Ladakh area. India is also increasingly suspicious of Beijing’s efforts to heighten its influence in the Indian Ocean.

Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage troops from key areas along their border ended in a stalemate earlier this month, failing to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes. India and China fought a bloody war in 1962.



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Friedman, Dodgers facing decisions on FAs, Bauer this winter

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andrew Friedman is headed into an offseason filled with crucial decisions involving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ big-name free agents, a rebuild of the starting rotation and Trevor Bauer’s future with the team.

As always, Friedman is guided by the ultimate goal of the monied Dodgers, saying, “The number one objective is to put ourselves in the best position to win in 2022.”

After coming within two wins of reaching the World Series for the fourth time in five years, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations defined the team’s postseason as “our struggle to consistently score runs.”

“We needed someone to step up and pull an Eddie Rosario,” Friedman said, referring to the Atlanta Braves left fielder who was named MVP of the NL Championship Series.

“After we made the Trea Turner deal, in my opinion, one through eight, it was the deepest and best lineup I’ve been around. But it didn’t quite play like that over those two months. It was a little bumpier than I would’ve expected,” he said Wednesday. “Figuring out the why of that is the hard part.”

The turbulence began well before the postseason.

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Bauer went on paid administrative leave in early July under MLB’s joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy. MLB is conducting its own investigation and has yet to announce any findings. Bauer, through his representatives, has denied any wrongdoing.

Asked if Bauer will pitch for the team again, Friedman said they remain in the same position as before.

“It’s being handled by the league office,” he said. “Whatever they decide, we’ll have to figure out from there what makes the most sense for us.”

If MLB suspends Bauer, it could create a domino effect on the team’s payroll plans.

“The extent of it, I don’t know yet,” Friedman said.

The Dodgers began the season with eight starters and tried to get through the postseason with just Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer and 20-game winner Julio Urías. The lack of depth was exposed by the team’s decisions to use Scherzer in relief in Game 5 of the NL Division Series and Urías out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the NLCS that left both pitchers tired in their later starts.

“We’re got a really good group of young starting pitchers coming,” Friedman said, citing Mitch White, Andre Jackson, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Landon Knack. “Gives us a really strong foundation of depth.”

Friedman and the front office have decisions to make on such key veterans as Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor, who will become free agents after the World Series.

“We’ll do everything we can to keep as many of this group together,” Friedman said, “but not standing in the way of a great opportunity and I’m sure there will be for different people.”

Kershaw, the 33-year-old three-time Cy Young Award winner, reinjured his left arm not long after returning from over a two-month absence for the same issue and wasn’t available to pitch in the postseason.

“He just wants to feel good again and get to the point where he’s healthy,” Friedman said.

Kershaw has spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles, where he’s been the longtime face of the franchise.

“There’s something nostalgic and great about Kersh playing for one team and winning another championship and having a parade,” Friedman said.

Offseason moves would be impacted if no agreement on a collective bargaining agreement is reached before the current deal expires Dec. 1.

“We need to be prepared accordingly,” Friedman said.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Trump Jr. Gets A Reality Check After Comparing U.S. To Communist Czechoslovakia

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Donald Trump Jr. was ridiculed this week after he likened shortages of certain products in the U.S. under President Joe Biden to living in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.

Trump Jr. made the remarks during conversation Saturday on Newsmax with Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing media personality and former aide to Donald Trump.

Gorka asked Trump Jr. to discuss the “empty shelves” and backlog of cargo ships in California due to supply-chain issues, given his “perspective” as someone who, “as a child, traveled behind the Iron Curtain and saw real socialism.”

“When conservatives say, ‘They’re socialists. The Democrats have gone radical,’ this isn’t an exaggeration, is it? You’ve seen it, Don,” Gorka added.

Trump Jr.’s mother, Ivana Trump, grew up in Czechoslovakia before moving first to Canada and then the U.S. in the 1970s. He told Gorka his Czech grandparents wanted him to understand the “freedoms and blessings we have here” in the U.S.

“So I traveled with them there every summer, you know, six, eight weeks. I’ve waited in those bread lines,” said Trump Jr., whose father was estimated to be worth more than $1 billion in the 1980s. “We’re starting to see the empty shelves that I experienced then in communist Czechoslovakia in the ’80s in America right now.”

Grocery stores in the U.S. are having problems stocking certain products due to the coronavirus pandemic, a worker shortage and shipping congestion at the Port of Los Angeles.

Some social media users and conservative media personalities have shown images of empty shelves to attack Biden over the supply-chain issues. However, some of these images have turned out to be photos from years ago.

Trump Jr. was slammed on social media for the absurd comparison. A number of people also pointed out that last year, at the peak of the pandemic during the Trump administration, shelves in stores across the country were stripped bare of certain essentials and people lined up for miles in their cars or for blocks on foot to get aid from food banks.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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