Turkey holds first talks with the Taliban in Kabul

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey held its first talks with the Taliban in Kabul; adding Ankara was still assessing the armed group’s offer to assist in operating the international airport.

“We have held our first talks with the Taliban; which lasted three and a half hours;” Erdogan told reporters. “If necessary; we will have the opportunity to hold such talks again.”

NATO member Turkey had hundreds of troops in Afghanistan as part of the alliance’s mission; and had been responsible for the security of the airport for the past six years.

 

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Responding to domestic criticism over Turkey’s engagement with the armed group; Erdogan said Ankara had “no luxury” to stand idly by in the volatile region.

“You cannot know what their expectations are or what our expectations are without talking. What’s diplomacy; my friend? This is diplomacy;” Erdogan said.

Turkey had been planning to help secure and run Kabul’s strategic airport; but on Wednesday it started pulling troops out of Afghanistan – an apparent sign of Ankara abandoning this goal.

Erdogan said the Taliban now wanted to oversee security at the airport; while offering Ankara the option of running its logistics.

He said the twin suicide bombs that killed at least 110 people; including 13 US troops; outside the airport during the last days of an urgent evacuation effort on Thursday showed the importance of knowing the details of how the air hub will be secured.

 

Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis Highlights

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

At least 95 people; including children and US military personnel; were killed after 2 explosions rocked the Kabul airport amid a chaotic evacuation effort from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan on Thursday.

U.S. forces helping evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule were on alert for more attacks on Friday after an Islamic State suicide bombing outside Kabul airport killed at least 92 people, including 13 U.S. service members.

The White House said the next few days of an ongoing U.S. evacuation operation that the Pentagon said has taken about 111,000 people out of Afghanistan in the past two weeks are likely to be the most dangerous.

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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States believes there are still “specific, credible” threats against the airport after the bombing at one of its gates.

“We certainly are prepared and would expect future attempts,” Kirby told reporters in Washington. “We’re monitoring these threats, very, very specifically, virtually in real time.

 

Taliban High Threat at Kabul airport

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The United States has urged crowds trying to access Kabul airport to leave the area; as the British and Australian governments warned of a “high threat” of a “terrorist” attack.

The warnings late on Wednesday and on Thursday came as Western troops hurried to evacuate as many foreign nationals and Afghans as possible before a withdrawal deadline on August 31.

“Those at the Abbey Gate; East Gate; or North Gate now should leave immediately;” the US State Department said in an alert; citing “security threats”.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs also cited an “ongoing and very high threat of terrorist attack” and told people not to travel to the airport.

The British foreign office gave similar advice; saying: “If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means; you should do so immediately”.

 

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“There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack”; the statement added.

Meanwhile; US Army Major General William Taylor told a news briefing that there were more than 10;000 people at the Kabul airport waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan.

The Pentagon claimed it evacuated some 19;000 people in the past 24 hours. More than 80;000 people; foreigners and Afghans; have been evacuated since August 14; the day before the Taliban swept into Kabul.

 

Thousands of people in London protest against Taliban

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

London – Thousands of people rallied in central London on Saturday. They showed solidarity with Afghans and condemned the takeover by the Taliban.

Reported from AFP; Sunday (22/8/2021); several thousand people descended into the center of the British capital since Saturday afternoon. They gathered in Hyde Park and marched in Whitehall past Downing Street; the residence and office of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Britain’s leader has faced fierce criticism for his government’s handling of the crisis in Afghanistan; as Britain; the United States and other Western allies struggle to evacuate their citizens and others from Kabul.

Protesters lined up behind banners reading “The Taliban have not changed”; while others held banners bearing slogans such as “stop killing Afghans” and “stop the oppression of Afghan women”.

 

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Many participants also waved Afghan flags and chanted slogans against the Taliban takeover.

The Taliban has insisted it treats women fairly and does not seek retaliation against Afghans who cooperated with Western forces during their two decades of involvement in the country; when thousands tried to flee Kabul amid chaos.

Many Afghans and others; including those demonstrating in London; are highly skeptical about their assurances amid reports that militants have initiated violent retaliation against so-called blacklists.

Afghan refugees and those trapped during the Taliban takeover

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital.

 

Taliban News

Former British prime minister Tony Blair; a key figure in the war against terror and the conflict in Afghanistan in 2001; broke his silence on the U.S. withdrawal Sunday; calling the “abandonment” of the Afghan people “tragic; dangerous; unnecessary.”

As the leader of Britain; he decided in 2001 to join the United States; under President George W. Bush; in entering the war in Afghanistan; where more than 450 British forces have since died during the almost 20-year conflict. He left office in 2007.

The signal that U.S. troops could undertake enhanced efforts to rescue people outside the airport came as the Biden administration scrambles to fly thousands of people per day out of Afghanistan, and amid signs there were still significant bottlenecks to doing so. All gates at the Kabul airport were closed on Saturday, as crowds continued to swell inside and the U.S. government struggled to process people quickly enough to alleviate the issues.

 

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Blair also warned that Russia; China and Iran could now take advantage of the fragile situation in Afghanistan; with other nations regarding commitments from Western leaders as “unstable currency.”

However; he went on to criticize the recent U.S.-led withdrawal of troops from the country; lambasting it for being motivated by politics instead of strategy.

The Pentagon on Saturday strongly hinted that U.S. troops may stage further operations outside the Kabul airport to help evacuate stranded American citizens and Afghans who aided the war effort; as the threat of violence in the capital grows amid the return of the Taliban’s top political leader and increased concern about potential attacks by the Islamic State.

 

Taliban Targets Panjshir Valley

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The Taliban are dispatching hundreds of fighters to the Panjshir Valley; 150 kilometers north of the Afghan capital; Kabul; to try to stamp out an emerging resistance movement led by the son of a warlord who defied them the last time they ruled Afghanistan 20 years ago.

The deployment comes hours after forces aligned with Ahmad Massoud’s National Resistance Front; comprising remnants of regular Afghan army units and special forces and local militia fighters; clashed with the Taliban in Andarab — a southern district in Baghlan province.

Ahmad Massoud’s father; Ahmad Shah Massoud; nicknamed the “lion of the Panjshir;” blocked Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the 1990s from conquering the narrow and almost impenetrable valley It has in effect one main road in and out. His 32-year-old son; who was trained at Britain’s military academy Sandhurst and was taught war studies at King’s College; London; hopes to emulate his father.

 

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The Taliban gave Massoud four hours Sunday to surrender the Panjshir Valley; saying they were deploying forces “after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully.” Ahmad Massoud has been holding negotiations with the Taliban since the Islamist movement seized power in Kabul a week ago; but one of his advisers told VOA that the talks were stalled and appeared unlikely to advance.

On Sunday, Massoud told Reuters that he did not want war. “We want to make the Taliban realize that the only way forward is through negotiation,” he said by telephone. He said his fighters are ready to fight. “They want to resist any totalitarian regime,” he said.

 

Afghanistan: People at Kabul airport flee Taliban

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The intensity; the urgency; the darkness of this hour. In every direction; there are the huge grey military transport planes from the US and many other countries. Military helicopters are in the sky.

Heading towards every single plane are long queues of Afghans. The lines don’t seem to end. They have been told they can only bring one suitcase and the clothes they are wearing; as they leave their country behind – the country now controlled by the Taliban.

But it’s not just the country they are leaving. They are leaving behind the life they lived; and for the young educated generation; the life they built up; the dreams they cherished over 20 years.

There are said to be 14;000 people inside this airfield; controlled by US military; waiting to board.

 

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Freelance journalist Bilal Sarwary was among those who made it onto the airfield; having left behind everything he had worked so hard to build; save for a few pairs of clothes and his young family.

Sarwary; a former BBC journalist; had planned to raise his daughter – named Sola; meaning “peace” – in his home country; the place he has spent 20 years covering; starting as a fixer and translator in 2001.

Instead; he is hoping she will one day understand the decision he has made to leave.

“Today’s the day that a generation of Afghans have buried their dreams and aspirations and our lives;” he said.

 

Taliban has just shaken Biden’s Presidency

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

Two photographs of President Joe Biden this week neatly illustrated the White House’s fight to contain the fallout of the biggest crisis of his presidency.

In the first; he sat alone at Camp David; staring upwards at a bank of video monitors surrounded by 18 empty leather chairs. Even some White House officials wondered whether the imagery; including him in a polo shirt; was helpful.

Three days later; when Biden was back at the White House; the picture was much different. He sat in suit and tie at the head of the Situation Room conference table; mask hanging off one ear as he scowled toward the assembled members of his national security team. The same team assembled a day later to “manage efforts in Afghanistan;” the White House said.

Biden has found himself caught this week in some of the most dire days of his seven-month-old presidency; accused of badly botching the end of America’s longest war even by some of his most reliable allies at home and abroad.

 

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The White House has scrambled to explain the chaos in Afghanistan through briefings; speeches and interviews — even as Biden himself remains defiant in his decision and insists the American people are behind him.

So far; the President’s reflexive response to the crisis to deflect blame and reject criticism has done little to quiet the questions swirling about whether he properly prepared for the Taliban’s takeover. It has tarnished what had been a carefully-honed image of competence; and Biden’s own explanations for what happened — that the chaos was inevitable and the Afghan army was to blame — belie the empathy that is his chief political characteristic.

 

Taliban News: 6,000 people at Kabul airport will soon board planes

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

State Department spokesman Ned Price said 6;000 “fully processed” people were currently at the Kabul airport and would soon be boarding planes. A source told Reuters that White House officials told a congressional briefing that the United States already had evacuated 6;741 people; including 1;792 American citizens and legal permanent residents.

 

The Taliban swiftly conquered Afghanistan as U.S. and other foreign troops withdrew; surprising even their own leaders and leaving power vacuums in many places.

The Taliban urged unity ahead of Friday prayers; calling on imams to persuade people not to leave Afghanistan.

Since seizing Kabul on Sunday; the Taliban have presented a more moderate face; saying they want peace; will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

When in power from 1996-2001; they severely restricted women’s rights; staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues. They were ousted in a 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

 

Latest Update

A U.S. lawmaker said the Taliban were using files from Afghanistan’s intelligence agency; the National Directorate of Security; to identify Afghans who worked for the United States.

“They are methodically ramping up efforts to round those folks up;” said Representative Jason Crow; who has been leading efforts in the U.S. Congress to accelerate the evacuation of American-affiliated Afghans. “I’ve had people send me pictures of Taliban outside their apartment complexes; searching for them.”

Crow voiced concern that the U.S. government may end the evacuation operation on Aug. 31; leaving more than 100;000 at-risk Afghans and family members in danger of Taliban reprisals.

 

Taliban forming new government

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The Biden administration has curtailed the number of flights to the United States for Afghans who worked alongside the US; as it prioritizes the evacuation of American personnel from the country; three sources familiar with the situation told CNN.

The last flight of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their families bound for Fort Lee; Virginia; has left Afghanistan; four sources said.

One source said that the limitation on the number of flights that are able to transit in and out of the Kabul airport – which was a scene of mass panic and chaos on Sunday — has impeded efforts to evacuate the Afghans who worked alongside the US in its two-decade military campaign.

It is unclear how long the pause in inbound flights will last. As of last week refugee resettlement agencies were preparing for a large influx of Afghan arrivals; two of the sources said; and Biden administration officials were discussing an uptick in SIV flights.

As of last Thursday; 1;200 Afghans and their families had been evacuated to America as part of the administration’s “Operation Allies Refuge;” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

 

Latest Update

The Departments of State and Defense have announced that US forces will now take over air traffic control at Kabul airport; in addition to expanding security there.

“Tomorrow and over the coming days; we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan; as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals;” the joint statement from the two agencies said.

“And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas; nearly 2;000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks;” the statement said. “For all categories; Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened.”

 

Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

This was stated directly by a senior official of the Afghan Interior Ministry; who was quoted by Reuters on Sunday (15/8/2021). The official said the Taliban came from all sides of the region. However; it did not provide further details.

A tweet from an Afghan Presidential palace account said gunfire had been heard at a number of points around Kabul.

US officials said the diplomats were being transported to the airport from the embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district. Many US troops were sent to help with the evacuation after a Taliban blitz of attacks brought the Islamists to Kabul within days.

Last week; US intelligence estimates said Kabul could hold out for at least three months.

 

Latest Update

A Taliban official told Reuters the group did not want any casualties when it took over; but had not announced a ceasefire.

Previously; Taliban insurgents also managed to seize us east of Jalalabad without a fight; giving them control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.

The Taliban also took over a border post close to Pakistan; Torkham. Then leaving Kabul airport the only way out of Afghanistan is still in government hands.

Indonesia Corona Update August 15, 2021

The following is the latest information on data on the corona virus (Covid-19) in Indonesia; Sunday (15/8/2021).

World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

COVID-19

Based on data on the Instagram account @bnpb_indonesia at 17.18 WIB; The number of positive confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Indonesia increased by 20,813 patients.

The total confirmed positive cases of Covid-19 in Indonesia today are 3,854,354 patients.

Then; there are additional recovered patients as many as 30,361 people.
The total number of recovered patients today is 3,351,959 throughout Indonesia.

Then; The number of Covid-19 patients who died in the last 24 hours was 1,222 people.
A total of 117,588 people have been declared dead to date.

 

Latest Update

Previously; President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) asked for the price of the Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to be lowered.

Jokowi’s order is an effort to increase public testing.
“One way to increase testing is to lower the price of PCR tests;” he said in a press statement; Sunday (15/8/2021); quoted from the Presidential Secretariat YouTube.

He also admitted that he had asked the Minister of Health (Menkes); Budi Gunadi Sadikin; to implement the policy

Haiti struck by 7.2-magnitude earthquake

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the west of the country on Saturday morning, toppling and damaging buildings including churches and hotels.

World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

Haiti Earthquake

The prime minister said there was “extensive damage” and declared a month-long state of emergency.

Haiti is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

The epicentre of Saturday’s quake was about 12km (7.5 miles) from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he had mobilised a team to work on the relief effort.

“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” he said. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”

Latest Update

Mr Henry later revealed he had flown in a plane over the city of Cayes.

US President Joe Biden has authorised an “immediate US response” to help Haiti and said USAID would work to support efforts to “assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild”.

“In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake,” he said.

The USGS earlier warned that the earthquake could result in thousands of fatalities and injuries. It also said several aftershocks had been felt in the region, including one measuring 5.8 magnitude.

Traveller tests COVID-19 positive in Tasmania, border shut to Victoria

Here is an update on the situation in Tasmania; courtesy of AAP.

World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

COVID-19

A NSW traveller has tested positive to Covid-19 while quarantining in Tasmania after touching down in the state without an entry pass.

The 31-year-old man; who arrived in Launceston in Tasmania’s north on Monday via Melbourne; has since returned to NSW.

He was tested on Tuesday when in quarantine and returned a positive result on Thursday morning.

The man left hotel quarantine in Launceston on Wednesday to return home to NSW; as is permitted under Tasmania’s emergency act.

“This is not a case of community transmission. This is a case that has been picked up in quarantine;” Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein said.

 

Latest Update

Gutwein also announced Tasmania would shut to Victoria for at least seven days in response to the mainland state’s lockdown.

The state’s Public Health Director Mark Veitch said the man; who developed symptoms on Thursday; was “probably becoming infectious” when he arrived in Tasmania.

He went straight into hotel quarantine via taxi and there is a minimal risk of exposure to the community as infection control procedures were in place; Dr Veitch said.

The case has forced the state government to cancel Sunday’s sold out AFL fixture between Hawthorn and Collingwood in Launceston.

 

China Allows Boeing 737 Max to Air Again amid COVID-19

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have reportedly been allowed to conduct flight tests in China today; Wednesday (11/8/2021). This was done after the plane was grounded for two and a half years.

World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

COVID-19

Quoting CNBC International; Wednesday (11/8/2021); flight tracking site Flightradar24 showed the Boeing 737 MAX-7 plane taking off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 09:24 local time.

Flight tracking was incomplete; but photos on China’s aviation blog showed the plane landed at Zhoushan Putuoshan Airport; about 150km south of Shanghai.

Boeing said it was continuing to work with global regulators as they completed their validation process on the mid-body model in China.

After flight testing; Beijing regulators are to issue an evaluation report of the aircraft and provide comments before pilot training can resume.

 

Latest Update

Previously; the Boeing 737 MAX cannot fly in several countries after two fatal accidents happened to the aircraft unit. First; the Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed in October 2018 in the Java Sea. Then followed the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019. Both of these accidents killed all the passengers on the plane.

Then in November 2020; the US regulator FAA again gave the medium-bodied aircraft permission to fly again.

In Indonesia; this plane was ordered by Garuda and Lion Air. Garuda ordered 50 units of the fleet while Lion Air Group brought around 200 of Boeing’s newest iron bird.

Karnataka To Impose Partial Lockdown Amid Rise In Covid-19 Cases

Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar a couple of days back dismissed reports of imposing a complete lockdown in the state despite a slight increase in COVID-19 cases in Mangaluru; Chikmagalur; Udupi; Hassan and Kodagu districts. Also Read – Breaking News LIVE Updates: 14 Injured in Cyclinder Blast in Dharavi; Rushed to Sion Hospital.

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COVID-19

Giving details; K Sudhakar said that there is no question of imposing a state-wide lockdown as Karnataka is not in such a situation. The Health Minister; however; made it clear that the state government will take appropriate steps in districts where cases are rising. Also Read – Kerala Imposes Night Curfew From Monday As COVID Cases Continue to Surge | Full List of Guidelines Here

He said that the state government has already imposed a night curfew across the state and the restrictions like the curbs on large gatherings and other potential risks are already in place. He also added that the state will monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis and take appropriate decisions based on the opinions of experts and recommendations of the TAC.

Last month; Chief Minister Besavaraj Bommai had said that strict measures will be imposed if the state records an increasing number of COVID cases. Earlier; the chief minister had ordered the district administrations to strictly monitor the situation in their respective jurisdictions and to impose additional containment measures as they feel required.

 

Latest Update

The state government had also asked the districts for strict surveillance measures to be implemented at the border posts as per the prevailing guidelines.

The development comes as Dakshina Kannada district bordering Kerala continued to top the daily COVID-19 cases in Karnataka; as the state reported 1;826 new cases and 33 deaths; taking the total number of infections to 29;22;875 and death toll to 36;881. The day also saw 1;618 discharges; taking the total number of recoveries in the state to 28;63;117.

With 422 new cases; Dakshina Kannada outnumbered the state capital Bengaluru Urban which reported 377 cases today. Out of 33 deaths reported today; 5 are from Bengaluru Urban and Dakshina Kannada; Belagavi; Hassan; Kolar and Mysuru (3); Chitradurga; Kodagu; Mandya and Uttara Kannada (2); followed by others.

 

Australia expands COVID-19 lockdown

Per Reuters – Australia expanded a COVID-19 lockdown to a rural town and the coastal region of Byron Bay on Monday; as fears grew that the virus has spread from Sydney to the northern tip of the country’s most populous state.

World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

COVID-19

Tamworth; a farming town 414 km (257 miles) northwest of Sydney; and Byron Bay; a tourist spot about 770 km north of Sydney; will both enter a seven-day lockdown; New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

Neither Tamworth nor Byron Bay has yet recorded a COVID-19 case; but Berejiklian said two infected people had contravened travel bans and travelled there.

“As a precaution; the health experts have recommended we lock down Tamworth for one week;” Berejiklian told reporters.

New South Wales reported 283 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours; up from 262 cases a day earlier.

Latest Update

The state has struggled to contain a surge of the highly infectious Delta variant despite a lockdown of Sydney now in its seventh week.

Neighbouring Victoria state said it would ease restrictions after reporting 11 new COVID-19 cases; the same as the previous day.

The majority of the new cases in Victoria spent time in the community while infectious but state Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown of areas outside the state capital of Melbourne would be lifted on Monday.

 

Greater Melbourne declared a COVID-19 Hotspot for Commonwealth support

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COVID-19

The Australian Government Chief Medical Officer; Professor Paul Kelly; has today declared Greater Melbourne; including Greater Geelong; Moorabool and Golden Plains a COVID-19 Hotspot for the purposes of Commonwealth support; for an initial period of 7 days from 11:59pm on 5 August 2021 until 11:59pm on 12 August 2021.

The Australian Government Chief Medical Officer; Professor Paul Kelly; has declared Greater Melbourne; including Greater Geelong; Moorabool and Golden Plains a hotspot from 11:59pm on 5 August 2021 until 11:59pm on 12 August 2021.

Victoria has announced the occurrence of 12 cases in metropolitan Melbourne. There have been multiple exposure sites attended by cases during their infectious period. These are listed on the Victorian Government’s website.

 

Latest Update

The outbreak is the result of the Delta variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2. The Delta variant of concern has been responsible for recent outbreaks in NSW. Delta variant has higher rates of transmission; resulting in the need for more stringent public health measures to control a community outbreak.

On 5 August 2021; the Victorian Government announced a 7-day lockdown from 8:00pm on 5 August 2021. The Commonwealth has offered the Victorian Government its support and assistance during this period.

 

Homeland Security warns of potential COVID-19 break

The Department of Homeland Security warned state and local authorities Friday about an increase in calls for violence online tied to election-related conspiracy theories; according to a law enforcement source. World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

COVID-19

In an effort to prevent online threats from manifesting in violent acts; DHS issued a public safety notification to reach law enforcement throughout the United States.

“[D]HS is providing awareness of reports regarding an increasing but modest level of activity online calling for violence in response to unsubstantiated claims of fraud related to the 2020 election and the alleged ‘reinstatement’ of former President Trump;” the public safety notification said; according to the source.

The warning; which does not contain a specific threat; comes amid a resurgence of false claims about the 2020 election; pushed in part by Mike Lindell; MyPillow CEO and a close ally of former President Donald Trump; who has emerged as one of the most vocal proponents of these conspiracy theories.

“As public visibility of the narratives increases; we are concerned about more calls to violence. Reporting indicates that the timing of these activities may occur during August 2021; although we lack information on specific plots or planned actions;” the notification says; according to the source.

 

Latest Update

A department spokesperson told CNN in a statement that “the Department of Homeland Security regularly shares information regarding the heightened threat environment with federal; state; local; tribal; and territorial officials to ensure the safety and security of all communities across the country.”

The spokesperson confirmed that the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a Public Safety Situational Awareness Notification to federal; state and local officials.

 

South Korea Breaks Covid-19 Record Again

South Korea (South Korea) recorded a record daily infection cases of Covid-19; the most since last January. The Ginseng country reported an additional 2;223 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (11/08/2021). Thus; the total number of Covid-19 cases in South Korea since the start of the pandemic has reached 216;206. World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

COVID-19

President Moon Jae-in said that the increase in cases was very concerning and called for continued cooperation from residents and health officials.

“(We) are in a critical period that could be a turning point for further increases in infections if we fail to stop the current spread;” Moon said; according to his spokesman.

Meanwhile; Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said the number was triggered by the delta variant of the coronavirus and an increase in domestic travel during the summer. Not only that; “silent spreaders” are also the cause of the increase in infection cases.

According to Kwon; “silent spreaders” are those who were exposed to Covid-19 but did not inform the relevant parties. They appear in communities such as workplaces; indoor gyms; churches and nursing homes. This leads to an increase in infections of unknown origin.

 

Latest Update

In addition; nearly half of these newly detected cases were found outside of Seoul and in summer vacation locations. Authorities worry that many people are ignoring social distancing rules while on vacation.

As a result of this phenomenon; Kwon strongly urges people returning from vacation to voluntarily undergo a test before returning to work.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 2;135 deaths on the same day. KDCA officials said the continuation of infections at the current pace could put a strain on South Korea’s health care system.

Only 15.7% of South Korea’s 52 million people have been fully vaccinated; while 42.1% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The government’s target is that 70% have received at least one dose by September.

Drug Lord died from COVID-19

Edgar Valdez; a drug lord who goes by the nickname La Barbie; woke up in one of the houses he owned in the resort city of Acapulco. World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

COVID-19

In the 1950s; this beautiful beach town was the premier haunt of American celebrities: Frank Sinatra used to prowl the hotel lounges; Elizabeth Taylor had her third of eight weddings here; and John F. Kennedy honeymooned on the coast with Jacqueline.

The glamour started to fade in the 1980s; but the city remained a popular vacation destination until a few years ago; when the Mexican cartels transformed Acapulco from a seaside paradise into one of the most violent flash points of the drug war.

As chief enforcer for the town’s most powerful cartel; Barbie drove the celebrities away for good and made tourists nervous about straying too far into Acapulco when their cruise ships pulled into port. He felt bad about it; a little; but that is the way of the world; he thought – eat or be eaten.

 

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The hit man and his family were taken to a house surrounded by an electric fence on the outskirts of Acapulco. According to testimony; Barbie’s would-be assassin was then escorted to a bedroom upstairs; where he and his three Zeta accomplices were tied up and ordered to sit on top of a bunch of black garbage bags; which had been taped together to create a large tarp. Barbie climbed the stairs in the afternoon; carrying a video camera and a pistol tucked in his belt.

Barbie believed in vengeance; and in taking care of his enemies. Over his 15 years in the drug trade; he had managed to alienate the leaders of almost every major cartel in Mexico.

Utopia of COVID-19

The history of real-world utopias bears his observation out. World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

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One of America’s best-known utopian experiments was performed at Brook Farm; in Massachusetts; where members of the Transcendentalist intelligentsia; among them Nathaniel Hawthorne; tried their hands at a communal life inspired by the writings of Fourier.

The Brook Farmers lacked the funds to live well and the skills to live cheaply; they went into debt and argued about doctrine; and when their half-built phalanstery burned down in the spring of 1846; the community went into a decline from which it did not recover.

The most enduring monument to Brook Farm is Hawthorne’s novel The Blithedale Romance (1852); which; far from praising the experiment; describes a group of city folk going obstinately to seed; their minds numbed by work; their hearts ablaze with impractical and ultimately tragic romantic combinations.

The Brook Farmers’ misfortune was small compared with that of the Icarians. It’s hard to see how Cabet’s novel could have inspired anyone to serious activity; nevertheless; in 1848; sixty-nine French people; dressed in black velour uniforms; set sail from Le Havre for Texas; where they were to establish a colony.

 

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They settled on the Red River; where they caught yellow fever; by the time Cabet arrived with the second group of colonists; a year later; their society had fallen apart. The Icarians relocated to Nauvoo; Illinois; whence the Mormons had just been chased: Presumably the real estate came cheap. Fifteen hundred Icarians gathered in Nauvoo; but they accomplished little; aside from printing a tract in which Cabet described how nice a society he could make if someone were to give him half a million dollars.

The group split; Cabet and his loyalists departed for Saint Louis; where Cabet died a few days later. The remainder of the group bought land in Iowa; which so depleted their resources that they lived for years in mud houses and walked around in wooden shoes. Their splendor was all in their “somewhat elaborate” constitution; drafted by Cabet; “which lays down with great care the equality and brotherhood of mankind; and the duty of holding all things in common; abolishes servitude and service (or servants); commands marriage; under penalties; provides for education; and requires that the majority shall rule.”

 

The Geek-Kings of COVID-19

There you are; Porn Surfer; Googling your way to a little adult material—you know; a little plain-vanilla; middle-of-the-road grown-up content—when; wham; you’ve dropped acid and been astrally projected into a triple-X pachinko parlor. World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

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One minute you’re trawling for a simple NSFW divertissement; and the next you’re in free fall through this insane; cross-linking wilderness-of-mirrors chaos of pop-ups and pop-unders and portals and paysites.

And; wait; why is someone named Jasmin talking to you in that browser window that just opened; as if you’d accidentally paid for a live cam show? Even after you figure out that she’s a canned come-on for a streaming site; you’re still befuddled. You click on an image; only to find yourself being shuttled from one site to another; unsure of what’s free and what’s not; what’s a destination and what’s merely a billboard for one; who’s an amateur and who’s a pro; who owns what and how it’s all connected. You start to nurse a deep suspicion that there’s more going on here than you can see—that there is some intricate; invisible web of revenue-sharing and traffic-trading and content-licensing at work. Which; of course; there is.

Until the invention of the tubes; online porn was relatively simple to watch and lucrative to sell. With very little money and a For Dummies–level understanding of HTML code; anyone could put up a web page featuring a list of text links to other porn websites. If a surfer clicked on one of the links; he would be directed to a paysite; the paysite would pay the referring site a tiny amount for the traffic; and kick back a more substantial amount if the surfer ended up subscribing to the site.

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Over time; link collections evolved to the more visual formats of “thumbnail-gallery pages” and “movie-gallery pages;” where instead of a list of text links; you’d see a mosaic of snapshot links or; say; eight-second movie-clip links. TGPs; as they were called; drew more traffic than link collections and “converted” better—that is; a higher percentage of surfers signed up for billed memberships. MGPs were more effective still. The paysites would supply these “affiliates” with the snapshots and clips for free; and the online porn universe came to consist of a relatively small number of paysites surrounded by many thousands of affiliates.

 

The spy who couldn’t spell COVID-19

Whatever nostalgia he might have felt for his old school was tinged with bitterness. It was here that he had suffered some of life’s early humiliations: taunted by classmates for his apparent dimwittedness; held in low esteem by his teachers.

World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

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If they remembered Brian Regan at all; they would remember him as the boy who had difficulty reading. The boy who was so bad with spellings. His bearish frame may have protected him from physical bullying; but combined with his severe dyslexia and his social awkwardness; it had also cemented his image as a dolt.

That image had stuck with him; despite a successful career in US intelligence; where he had been given access to some of the country’s most valued secrets. Being underestimated – by family; classmates and colleagues – had been the theme of his life; a curse he had borne silently since childhood. But for the mission he had now embarked upon; it was a blessing. None of his co-workers or managers in the intelligence community could have imagined that he of all people was capable of masterminding a complex espionage plot.

 

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From the parking lot; he walked to the edge of the school grounds. Squeezing through a hole in the barbed wire fence next to the handball courts; he stepped into a wooded area that separated the nearby highway from the school perimeter. Walking a few yards; he stopped by a tree and dug a hole in the ground. He took a laminated list of phone numbers out of his pocket and buried it there before walking back to his van; confident that nobody had seen him.

He had already pulled off what was then the biggest heist of classified information in the history of American espionage. In just a few days; he hoped to execute the final step of a meticulous plan to exchange those secrets for millions of dollars. If he succeeded; he would have enough money to pay off the mortgages of his brothers and sisters; settle his personal debts and secure the financial future of his children.

 

A Norwegian Tragedy: COVID-19

This story appears in Aage Borchgrevink’s superb book; and it plays like a scene from a horror film because we know the barfly will make good on his promise.

World Health Organization warns Coronavirus disease situation dashboard presents official daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

 

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Breivik was hard at work on 2083: A European Declaration of Independence; a 1518-page screed exposing the Muslim plot to conquer Christendom.

In large part a compendium of extracts from counter-jihadist websites; 2083 was posted online on the day of the attacks under the name ‘Andrew Berwick’; one of Breivik’s several aliases. The signs of Europe’s creeping Islamisation were everywhere; he argued; from Bosnian independence to the spread of mosques in Oslo. Muslim men were having their way with European women; while declaring their own women off-limits to European men.

Breivik and his fellow white Norwegians were ‘first-generation dhimmis’ – a term for non-Muslim minorities under Ottoman rule which; like most of his ideas; he’d found online – in what was fast becoming ‘Eurabia’. Worst of all; Europe’s ‘cultural Marxist’ elites had caved in; like a woman who would rather ‘be raped than … risk serious injuries while resisting’. Even the Lutheran Church – ‘priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like minimalist shopping centres’ – had surrendered. Fortunately; there were ‘knights’ like Breivik who had the courage to defend Europe’s honour.

 

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2083 isn’t just a manifesto: it’s also the would-be inspirational memoir of a man who has rejected the ‘Sex and the City lifestyle’ in favour of his sacred duty. The leap from empty hedonism to murderous heroism is also a recurring theme in the biographies of the young men who leave Bradford; Hamburg; Paris and Oslo for Syria. As Borchgrevink writes; Breivik’s hatred of Islam didn’t prevent him from proposing a tactical alliance with al-Qaida against the liberal state he hated even more. The desires that motivated him scarcely differed from those of his jihadist enemies: revenge; adventure and fame.