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'I still spend so much time on the kids - that needs to change'

23.09.2020 16:22

Sarah Dahia from Australia takes us through her week during the coronavirus pandemic.

From: www.bbc.co.uk

Mass stranding event beaches 450 whales in Tasmania

23.09.2020 15:32

It's the worst stranding event the Australian island has ever seen.

From: www.livescience.com

He Killed 2 Marines in 2011. It Almost Derailed Peace Talks This Month.

23.09.2020 15:08

KABUL, Afghanistan -- He was a young Afghan police officer working alongside American forces in one of the hot spots of the war, with Taliban ambushes all around. Then he turned his weapon on two U.S. Marines, killing them both.Now, he is out of prison.His attack, in Helmand province in 2011, was a serious eruption in a phenomenon that within a year would redefine the American war in Afghanistan: insider killings, often by members of the Afghan security forces who, like the police officer, were not at the time part of the Taliban.But just this month, that officer, Mohammad Dawood, 31, reached the top of the Taliban's list of prisoners they wanted released as they negotiated the opening of peace talks with the Afghan government. And along with just five other men detained after killing Westerners, his fate became a sticking point that nearly derailed the whole process, officials say.While the Taliban made the men's release an ultimatum before they would go to the table, officials for the United States, France and Australia were quietly urging the Afghan government not to let them go -- even as they told the Afghan government to free thousands of other Taliban prisoners with Afghan blood on their hands in order to open the way for the talks.Only a last-minute deal to remand the six to a kind of house arrest in Qatar allowed the opening of peace talks on Sept. 12.Dawood, whose name had not been publicly released but whose identity was confirmed by American and Afghan officials, now stands as a symbol of the difficulty -- and tough choices -- involved in trying to make peace in the middle of a bitter war.Dawood's killings of Lt. Col. Benjamin Palmer and Sgt. Kevin Balduf in 2011 represent only a fraction of more than 40 years of violence. But the Taliban's willingness to go to the brink for him in negotiations, despite his acting only on his own behalf, according to his family and close friends, was a stark demonstration of how even isolated disputes can threaten the peace process."We are not happy about the release of some prisoners, and we know our allies Australia and France are not happy about the release of some," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for Afghan peace. In all, the Afghan government freed 5,000 prisoners demanded by the Taliban. "But we understand that this difficult step was in the service of something even more important, which is to get the Afghan war to come to an end, and it was a necessary step."The Taliban have consistently made prisoner releases a priority -- most notably in the 2014 exchange of an American soldier held by the Taliban for five years, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, for five senior Taliban figures who were being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. That deal brought heavy criticism for the Obama administration, and during his campaign for the presidency in 2016, Donald Trump repeatedly called Bergdahl a traitor who should be executed.Both Khalilzad as well as Mutlaq al-Qahtani, the Qatari special envoy for the process, refused to discuss details of the arrangement regarding the six prisoners, including where in Qatar the men are being held and under what circumstances. Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan's vice president, in a recent interview said the men would not be allowed to leave Qatar -- all the pages on their passports are crossed out except for the one with the Qatari visa.Stopping deadly insider attacks like the one by Dawood was once an urgent imperative for the Obama administration. By the end of President Barack Obama's first term, cultural tensions and increasing pressure from the Taliban had spilled over into violence as Afghan troops turned their guns on their Western allies, threatening to derail the war effort.By the height of the war, Americans were building outposts within outposts to defend themselves from the very people they were supposed to be training and fighting alongside.Insider attacks became a grim feature of the conflict. The deaths of Palmer, 43, and Balduf, 27, came during a flurry of such killings that peaked in 2012, accounting for 15% of coalition troops who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan that year.Of the four U.S. troops killed in combat in 2020, two were killed in an insider attack in February, marking the last U.S. troops to die from hostile fire before the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban.But as was the case for many such attacks, Dawood was not a part of an insurgent group when he killed the two Marines, according to those close to him and to an Afghan official familiar with his case.Born in Naw Bahar, a small, staunchly anti-Taliban village in Baghlan province, Dawood was one of five brothers and the son of Mohammad Zahir, a poor wheat farmer. He studied at a madrassa in Kunduz and Baghlan, before studying in Pakistan and Iran, where like many Afghans he worked for a brief time.Safdar Mohseni, head of the Baghlan provincial council, said Dawood had most likely turned to the Taliban in prison, looking for support."He was a good person to me in every way -- psychologically, scientifically, religiously -- and was a patriot," said Saqi Mohammad Numani, a religious scholar who taught Dawood for several years. "Like Dawood, I have thousands of students who are not in favor of violence and terror, and Dawood was not in favor of violence."After returning from Iran, Dawood was engaged to be married, but because he was low on money, he joined the Afghan police. He trained in Kabul for six months in 2010 and graduated as a sergeant, according to a senior police official who served alongside him in southern Afghanistan.Not long after Dawood left police training in 2011, he was assigned to the Afghan National Civil Order Police's 5th Brigade, a new unit the U.S. military was training in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province. As the Taliban began regaining ground, U.S. and NATO forces started a concerted effort to professionalize the police force to hold what districts the Afghan government still controlled.On May 12, 2011, Dawood walked from the Afghan portion of his base in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand, and entered the U.S. side, where his Marine advisers lived, slept and ate.A small group of Marines were outside eating dinner when Dawood lifted his assault rifle and began firing, killing Palmer and Balduf. Marines fired back, wounding Dawood.Cultural misunderstandings and disgust with Westerners were traced to many insider killings. When the attacks began in earnest in 2008, they took a deep toll on the U.S.-Afghan relationship, sowing doubt and distrust that was only exacerbated by the stress of training and combat.In a country rife with anti-Semitism, Dawood appeared to turn to that in an attempt to justify his actions. He told investigators he killed the Americans because he thought they were Jews and he did not want to live among them. He said no one had provoked him, though the senior Afghan official said that Dawood's fundamentalist education in Iran and Pakistan was probably a catalyst for this contempt.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

At Least 380 Whales Dead In Australia's Largest Ever Mass Stranding

23.09.2020 14:07

"While they are still alive and in water, there is certainly hope for them but as time goes on they become more fatigued and their chance of survival reduces," said a government wildlife official.

From: www.npr.org

Wednesday evening news briefing: Rishi Sunak poised to unveil furlough successor

23.09.2020 12:17

If you want to receive twice-daily briefings like this by email, sign up to the Front Page newsletter here. For two-minute audio updates, try The Briefing - on podcasts, smart speakers and WhatsApp. Sunak poised to unveil successor to furlough scheme Rishi Sunak has a problem. His furlough scheme, which successfully protected millions of jobs through the first lockdown, closes at the end of October. It has been winding down since August, encouraging people to go back to work and limiting the bill to the Treasury, which currently stands at £40bn. But a resurgence in the virus means new restrictions have been introduced, with experts warning the economy could "easily" slide back into reverse this autumn. The Treasury is working on plans for a successor to the furlough scheme to fend off a wave of unemployment in the autumn, with the Chancellor set to give a statement to the Commons tomorrow on his plans to protect jobs. This reportedly includes the possibility of the state subsidising the wages of workers able to work 50-60pc of their normal hours. Yet if this does not seem feasible, financially or politically, what other options does Mr Sunak have? Tim Wallace sets out what the Chancellor could take from other nations. Tonight will see Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer make his own address to the nation on the BBC, which you can get an update on here. It comes after Boris Johnson set out the latest national restrictions on TV last night. But confusion still hangs over the nation after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued a stark warning to the public that if the coronavirus rules are not obeyed, Britain could face a second lockdown by Christmas. It comes as the UK has recorded 6,178 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours - the third highest daily total since the pandemic began. Here is what a second lockdown could mean for house prices. Perhaps Sir Keir will hope his address isn't seen by Matt Lucas after his Great British Bake Off spoof of Mr Johnson's briefings. Lorry drivers need post-Brexit permit through Kent Lorry drivers will need permits to access Kent or face police action in a bid to avoid post-Brexit gridlock, the Government has said. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said work is ongoing to avoid the possibility of 7,000-truck-long queues in the county caused by a lack of preparation for the end of the Brexit transition period this December. Conservative former minister Damian Green said such a prospect would "send a chill" through his Ashford constituents. Mr Gove confirmed the so-called 'Kent Access Permit' is being readied, but did not confirm exactly when it would be up and running. Our politics liveblog has details of his appearance in the Commons. It emerged JPMorgan is moving about €200bn (£184bn) of assets from the UK to Germany as the end of Brexit transition period approaches. For worried bosses, read five ways businesses can prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period. Prince Harry risks diplomatic row over US voting drive The Duke of Sussex has urged people in the US to "reject hate speech" as he risks a diplomatic row by joining a voting drive for the country's upcoming presidential election. The Duke, who as the grandson of the Queen has until now felt an obligation to remain politically neutral, appeared alongside his wife in a video on the US voting registration day. The Duchess, who is an American citizen and has undertaken several recent events ahead of the election, said: "Every four years, we're told, 'This is the most important election of our lifetime.' But this one is." It comes as bookmakers put Meghan at 100/1 to be the next US president. Read what Prince Harry said sitting beside her in the video broadcast. At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines Travel latest | 'Do not book overseas holidays', pleads Sturgeon Bringing in the Army | Military will not be needed, says police chief Sir Paul Smith interview | 'I've never faced challenge so devastating' Dragging on | Majority thought pandemic would be over by now Corner shops | Small retailer trial to offer free cash withdrawals Also in the news: Today's other headlines Racial prejudice | Uncle Ben's rice products will be renamed Ben's Original after its owner Mars acknowledged that the logo depicting an elderly African-American man promoted racial stereotypes. The revamped Ben's products, which feature the same blue font, orange packaging and half of the name, will hit shelves in 2021. The change comes as Colston Hall has been renamed Bristol Beacon following protests over its association to the slave trade. Read on for details. Coffee spiked | Train station cleaner put detergent in boss's drink British diplomat | Cause of death remains 'unascertained' Alexei Navalny | Putin critic discharged from German hospital End of the phone charger? | Tiny 'wind turbines' may be used instead Tasty discovery | Monkeys find new species of truffle Around the world: 470 whales stranded, feared dead Rescuers trying to free a pod of whales beached off the Australian island of Tasmania said today they had found another 200 stranded mammals, bringing the total to 470 and making it one of the country's biggest beachings. As a rescue effort began its third day off the southern island's rugged west coast, rescuers said they spotted another large group of pilot whales during an aerial reconnaissance of remote Macquarie Harbour, and most were believed to be dead. Watch shocking footage. Wednesday interview 'They started shooting each other - and I started running'

Gold miners discover 100 million-year-old meteorite crater Down Under

23.09.2020 12:04

About 100 million years ago, a gigantic meteorite collided with Australia, creating a 3-mile-wide impact crater.

From: www.livescience.com

Australia whales: 90 dead in mass stranding off Tasmania

23.09.2020 10:26

Rescuers are racing to save the survivors of a group of 270 whales beached off Tasmania's west coast.

From: news.yahoo.com

Beached whales in Australia: race to save 15 surviving whales after 150 wash up on beach

23.09.2020 10:19

Rescuers are racing against time to save whales that have become stranded in Western Australia.

From: www.standard.co.uk

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