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CentralMass's Journal
CentralMass's Journal
October 28, 2021

Paid leave falls out of Democratic package in urgent scramble to secure Manchin's support


" (CNN) Democrats are expected to scrap paid family and medical leave from their cornerstone economic and climate package, discarding one of the central planks of President Joe Biden's proposal as they scramble to strike a deal with holdout senators, according to multiple people familiar with the talks.
The plan's survival has been in question for several days due to objections from Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. Biden's initial 12-week proposal was scaled back to four weeks in an effort to secure Manchin's support. That was rejected, leading to an effort by New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that attempted to find a compromise with Manchin.
That has not succeeded, one of the people said, prompting Democrats to push it out of the package as they seek to scale back the proposal's overall cost and programs to meet Manchin's demands.
Manchin made clear he would not move when asked about the provision on Wednesday, saying: "I just can't do it."
October 17, 2021

Lawless city?' Worry after Portland police don't stop chaos


"PORTLAND, Ore. -- A crowd of 100 people wreaked havoc in downtown Portland, Oregon, this week – smashing storefront windows, lighting dumpsters on fire and causing at least $500,000 in damage – but police officers didn't stop them.

Portland Police Bureau officials say that's because of legislation passed by Oregon lawmakers this year, which restricts the tools they can use to confront people vandalizing buildings and causing mayhem"
"The reason that we did not intervene goes back to what we talked about last month with House Bill 2928 and the restrictions placed on us in a crowd control environment, Portland Police Lt. Jake Jensen said in a neighborhood meeting Thursday."
"However there is an exception – when the circumstances constitute a riot and if the officer using the chemical incapacitant reasonably believes its use is necessary to stop and prevent more destructive behavior."
"On Tuesday, police say 35 separate locations were targeted — including banks, retail stores, coffee shops, and government buildings.

Authorities say although police did not directly intervene, officers did give direction to disperse over a loudspeaker and a Mobile Field Force moved in, at which point the crowd splintered."
October 4, 2021

From March - newsweek - The United States of Oligarchy Opinion

"The United States of Oligarchy | Opinion

They say the devil is in the details but sometimes the devil is in the big picture.

When it comes to the American political system, the problem is not an instance of dysfunction here or an element of corruption there. It's not just one thing, it's the whole thing. It's that our government has become a system of legalized bribery, as the undue influence of money, mainly corporate money, has corrupted our democracy.

This has created what is for all intents and purposes an economically rigged system. Due to the undue influence of money on our political system, our politicians now do more to serve corporate interests than humanitarian ones, to advocate for short-term profit maximization for huge corporate entities before the health, well-being and security of the American people and the planet on which we live.
Democracy has been under attack in America for a very long time, and at this point it doesn't seem to be winning."
.. more at the link.
August 15, 2021

A timeline of more than 40 years of war in Afghanistan


"The former Soviet Union marched into Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, 1979, claiming it was invited by the new Afghan communist leader, Babrak Karmal, and setting the country on a path of 40 years of seemingly endless wars and conflict.

After the Soviets left in humiliation, America was the next great power to wade in. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. invaded to oust the Taliban regime, which had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

After nearly 20 years, the U.S. is ending its war in Afghanistan, withdrawing the last American troops.

Left behind is the U.S.-allied government, riven by corruption and divisions, which must fend off advancing Taliban insurgents amid stalled peace talks. Many Afghans fear the next chapter will see their country plunge into chaos and inter-factional fighting among warlords.

Here is a timeline of some key dates in Afghanistan’s 40 years of wars:
Dec. 25, 1979 — Soviet Red Army crosses the Oxus River into Afghanistan. In neighboring Pakistan, Afghan mujahedeen, or Islamic holy warriors, are assembling, armed and financed by the U.S. for an anti-communist war. More than 8 million Afghans flee to Pakistan and Iran, the first of multiple waves of refugees over the decades.

1980s — CIA’s covert Operation Cyclone funnels weapons and money for the war through Pakistani dictator Mohammed Zia-ul Haq, who calls on Muslim countries to send volunteers to fight in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is among the thousands to volunteer.

1983 — President Ronald Reagan meets with mujahedeen leaders, calling them freedom fighters, at the White House.

September 1986 — The U.S. provides the mujahedeen with shoulder-held anti-aircraft Stinger missiles, which turns the course of the war. Soviets begin negotiating withdrawal.

Feb. 15, 1989 — The last Soviet soldier leaves Afghanistan, ending 10 years of occupation

April 1992 — Mujahedeen groups enter Kabul. The fleeing Najibullah is stopped at the airport and put under house arrest at a U.N. compound.

1992-1996 — Power-sharing among the mujahedeen leaders falls apart and they spend four years fighting one another; much of Kabul is destroyed and nearly 50,000 people are killed.

1994 — The Taliban emerge in southern Kandahar, take over the province and set up a rule adhering to a strict interpretation of Islam.

Sept. 26, 1996 — The Taliban capture Kabul after sweeping across the country with hardly a fight; Northern Alliance forces retreat north toward the Panjshir Valley. The Taliban hang Najibullah and his brother.

1996-2001 — Though initially welcomed for ending the fighting, the Taliban rule with a heavy hand under Mullah Mohammed Omar, imposing strict Islamic edicts, denying women the right to work and girls the right to go to school. Punishments and executions are carried out in public.

me officially collapses.

May 1, 2003 — President George W. Bush declares “mission accomplished” as the Pentagon says major combat is over in Afghanistan.

2004 and 2009 — In two general elections, Karzai is elected president for two consecutive terms.

Summer 2006: With the U.S. mired in Iraq, the Taliban resurgence gains momentum with escalating attacks. Soon they begin retaking territory in rural areas of the south.

April 5, 2014 — The election for Karzai’s successor is deeply flawed and both front-runners, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, claim victory. The U.S. brokers a deal under which Ghani serves as president and Abdullah as chief executive, starting an era of divided government.

Dec. 8, 2014 — American and NATO troops formally end their combat mission, transitioning to a support and training role. President Barack Obama authorizes U.S. forces to carry out operations against Taliban and al-Qaida targets.

2015-2018 — The Taliban surge further, staging near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and U.S. forces and seizing nearly half the country. An Islamic State group affiliate emerges in the east.

September 2018 — After his election promises to bring U.S. troops home, President Donald Trump appoints veteran Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad as negotiator with the Taliban. Talks go through 2019, though the Taliban refuse to negotiate with the Kabul government and escalate attacks.

Sept. 28, 2019 — Another sharply divided presidential election is held. It is not until February 2020 that Ghani is declared the winner. Abdullah rejects the results and holds his own inauguration. After months, a deal is reached establishing Ghani as president and Abdullah as head of the peace negotiating committee.

August 18, 2019 — The Islamic State group carries out a suicide bombing at wedding in a mainly Hazara neighborhood of Kabul, killing more than 60 people.

Feb. 29, 2020 — The U.S. and the Taliban sign a deal in Doha, Qatar, setting a timetable for the withdrawal of the around 13,000 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan and committing the insurgents to halt attacks on Americans.

Sept. 12, 2020-February 2021 — After months of delay, Taliban-Afghan government negotiations open in Qatar, sputter for several sessions and finally stall with no progress. Ghani refuses proposals for a unity government, while the Taliban balk at a cease-fire with the government.

March 18, 2021 — After the U.S. proposes a draft peace plan, Moscow hosts a one-day peace conference between the rival Afghan sides. Attempts at a resumption of talks fail. Taliban and government negotiators have not sat at the table since.

April 14, 2021 — President Joe Biden says the remaining 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by Sept. 11 to end America’s “forever war.”

2019-Present — Violence grows in Kabul. IS carries out brutal attacks, including on a maternity hospital and a school, killing newborns, mothers and schoolgirls. Also growing is a wave of random attacks, unclaimed and mysterious, with shootings, assassinations and sticky bombs planted on cars, spreading fear among Afghans.

May 2021-Present — Taliban gains on the ground accelerate. Multiple districts in the north, outside the Taliban heartland, fall to the insurgents, sometimes with hardly a fight. Ghani calls a public mobilization, arming local volunteers, a step that risks compounding the many factions.

July 2, 2021 — The United States hands over Bagram Airfield to Afghan military control after the last troops in the base leave. The transfer of Bagram, the heart of the U.S. military’s presence in Afghanistan throughout the war, signals that the complete pullout of American troops is imminent, expected within days, far ahead of Biden’s Sept. 11 timetable."

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