Voice of America – Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the United States will begin a partial withdrawal down to 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the coming days, as the Taliban and the U.S. issued conflicting messages about future violence in the war-torn nation.
Speaking at a Pentagon news conference Monday, Esper said that the newly-inked U.S.-Taliban agreement requires the U.S. military to start withdrawing forces within 10 days of its signing on Feb. 29.
“This is a conditions-based agreement,” Esper told reporters. “We’re watching the Taliban’s actions closely to assess whether they are upholding their commitments.”
But it appears U.S. officials and the Taliban have a conflicting understanding about the commitments made within the peace plan.
Esper said the U.S. expects violence in Afghanistan would diminish to ultimately reach a “cease-fire.”
“Our expectation is that the reduction in violence would continue. It would taper off ‘til we get inter-Afghan negotiations and would ultimately consummate in a cease-fire,” Esper said in response to a question from VOA.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Monday the reduction in violence agreement had now “ended” and Taliban operations would “continue as normal.”
“As per the U.S.-Taliban agreement, our mujahedeen will not attack foreign forces, but our operations will continue against the Kabul administration forces,” Mujahid said.
The commander on the ground, U.S. Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, has the authority to reduce U.S. force numbers to about 8,600 from the current total of nearly 13,000. About 20-30% of non-U.S. international coalition forces will also withdraw at this time, according to a senior defense official.
U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday the U.S. was “going to be leaving,” and “bringing our soldiers back home.”
Reuters – Greek troops and riot police remained on high alert on Tuesday along the land border between Greece and Turkey, the main flashpoint in an escalating row between the EU and Ankara over how to deal with a new wave of migrants and refugees.
Some 10,000 migrants have been trying to breach the border since Turkey said last Thursday it would no longer uphold a 2016 accord with the European Union to keep refugees on its territory in return for billions of euros in aid.
Greek authorities said the border had been quiet overnight, in contrast to the clashes seen over the weekend and into Monday, when police used tear gas against migrants, including women and children, stuck in the no-man’s land.
“There were only a few attempts today (by migrants to cross the border). Let’s hope they get the message,” a machine gun-toting army officer told Reuters near the Kastanies border crossing.
Army jeeps patrolled the area, and roads leading to the Evros river which marks the Greek-Turkish border remained shut.
“Greece’s borders are also Europe’s borders,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a statement released ahead of a planned inspection tour of the area later on Tuesday with the heads of the three main EU institutions.
Reuters – European Union officials on Tuesday promised more cash for Greece during a visit to its border with Turkey which tens of thousands of migrants and refugees have been trying for days to breach.
France 24 – French officials have closed about 120 schools in areas that have reported the largest numbers of coronavirus infections, and more could be shuttered in the coming days, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Tuesday.
Sputnik – ran has been among the Middle Eastern countries that have suffered the most from the spread of the COVID-19, with the total number of cases now over 2,300.
The Iranian Health Ministry reported 835 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours with 77 deaths and 2,336 infected.
“According to the latest data collected, (there are) 835 new cases of infection, 11 fatal new cases. In total, taking into account these data, the number of infections has increased to 2,336, the total number of deaths is 77. However, I am glad (to say) that 435 people have recovered,” the deputy head of the Iranian Ministry of Health said live on IRINN.
Iran is among the countries that are most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Reuters – A man who lives in a New York suburb and works in Manhattan tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total confirmed cases in the state to two, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday.
Reuters – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) temporarily closed an office in Washington state on Tuesday amid concerns over the possible spread of the coronavirus, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said during a congressional hearing.
Wolf said a department employee at the office had visited a family member at a Washington State nursing home affected by the coronavirus outbreak, which led to the decision to close the office for 14 days “out of an abundance of caution.”
Michael Snyder – Dr. Matt McCarthy, a staff physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, just went on national television and warned that there will be “thousands” of confirmed coronavirus cases inside the United States “by next week”. I certainly hope that he is completely wrong, but obviously he has a better vantage point for observing the progression of this outbreak than any of us do. As an emergency room doctor in New York, he is dealing with potential COVID-19 cases every single day. And as you will see below, he says that he has had to “plead to test people” and that it is a “national scandal” that more people have not been tested.
As I discussed in a previous article, up until just a few days ago the CDC has had extremely restrictive guidelines for who should be tested for the virus. Only those that have visited China recently and those that have had close contact with a known victim were supposed to be tested. Obviously this allowed a lot of potential victims to fall through the cracks, and now we have a major outbreak in the Seattle area.
Why couldn’t we have been able to test anyone that wanted to be tested from the very beginning? In South Korea, they have already “built drive-thru coronavirus screening locations”…
Health officials in South Korea tested 10,000 people for the coronavirus on Friday alone. This week, they built drive-thru coronavirus screening locations, giving hundreds of patients an assessment of their health in just 10 minutes.
The US announced its first coronavirus case on the same day South Korea did. But six weeks later, less than 500 potentially infected Americans have gotten tests, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency’s official test count — which had previously been updated daily — was stripped from the CDC site on Sunday, though US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told ABC the same day that the US had tested 3,600 people.
Newxmax – Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top official at the National Institute of Health, told CNN on Monday that “community spread,” an infection without an identifiable source of exposure, could lead to “a lot more” cases of the coronavirus in the United States.
“My concern is, as the next week or two or three go by, we’re gonna see a lot more community-related cases, and that’s of great concern,” Fauci, a member of the coronavirus task force, said on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday.
“Unfortunately, this is something we expected. Whenever you have a respiratory disease that’s easily transmissible, you’re gonna get community spread and it’s gonna become difficult to pinpoint the source of each and every infection,” He added. “And that’s exactly what we’re seeing in Washington state and now in several other states throughout the country. It’s gonna make our job much more challenging.”
Information Liberation – MSNBC host Chris Matthews, 74, was officially “canceled” on Monday night after serving the establishment propaganda outlet for 23 years.
His crime against wokeness appears to be allegations he “inappropriately flirted” with a female guest (see: paid her a compliment to be nice).
Laura Bassett claimed Matthews said to her, “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” and exclaimed, “Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.”
Stamford Advocate – A parade of establishment Democrats began coalescing around Joe Biden on Monday, an attempt to bolster the former vice president and stall Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ascent as voters in 14 states prepared to cast ballots Tuesday, the most consequential day of the presidential nominating contest.
On a day with cascading developments that rapidly recast the presidential race, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., dropped out and made plans to join Biden at his rally in Dallas on Monday night. In a visual symbol of Biden’s attempts to consolidate the moderates in the party, former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg — who dropped out Sunday night, and who had an intensely cold relationship with Klobuchar — also scrambled to get to Dallas and endorse Biden.
Reuters – Bernie Sanders looked to take command of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday as polls opened in the biggest round of voting, while his main rival Joe Biden aimed to muscle aside upstart Michael Bloomberg and consolidate support from the party’s moderate wing.
NY Post – The ex-director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the deadly coronavirus may be “impossible” to contain — and that kids may be secret carriers of the disease.
“We think it will be very difficult if not impossible to contain it … but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters.
Frieden, who ran the agency under President Barack Obama and was the New York City health commissioner under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, said the spread of the virus to more than 89,000 people across the world has been an “unprecedented situation.”
“Never before have we seen a pathogen emerge and have global spread like this. That is scary,” Frieden said.
Frieden pointed to evidence that people with mild or no symptoms, including children, may be secret carriers of the virus.
Reuters – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday widened the ability of states to use criminal laws against illegal immigrants and other people who do not have work authorization in the United States in a ruling involving identity theft prosecutions in Kansas.
In the decision, the justices upheld the authority of states to prosecute immigrants for identity theft when applying for a job. The court found that Kansas did not unlawfully encroach on federal authority over immigration policy in charging three men accused of using other people’s Social Security numbers.
President Donald Trump’s administration backed Kansas in the case. Trump has made his hardline policies toward immigration a centerpiece of his presidency and 2020 re-election campaign. Kansas is one of several conservative states that have sought to crack down on illegal immigrants.
The justices overturned a 2017 Kansas Supreme Court decision that had voided the convictions of the three restaurant workers, finding that a 1986 federal law called the Immigration Reform and Control Act did not prevent states from pursuing such prosecutions.
Though immigration-related employment fraud is a federal matter, Kansas contended that its prosecutions were not immigration-related and did not conflict with federal immigration law. Kansas had argued that a ruling in favor of the immigrants would undermine its ability to combat the growing problem of identity theft.
Immigrant rights groups have said that giving states power to prosecute employment fraud would let them take immigration policy into their own hands.
DW – The COVID-19 outbreak is hitting travel worldwide in unprecedented ways. As business trips are being cancelled and tourists stay at home, the airline industry is facing the worst downturn since the 2008 financial crisis.
Hit already by dramatically falling passenger numbers, the novel COVID-19 pathogen is forcing global airlines to make costly contingency plans to contain the spread of the virus, darkening the horizon for the struggling industry even further.
Just on Monday, German flag carrier Lufthansa unveiled a series of cuts in its flight schedule, including extending its complete ban on flights to China until April 24 and to Iran until April 30.
Not more than a few weeks ago, there were hopes within the industry that the virus outbreak could be contained to China. Now there is talk of the biggest crisis emerging since the great depression just over a decade ago.
Lufthansa’s announced cuts, which also include a 40% reduction of flights to Italy, are showing that airlines’ flight plans are hit by more than just a few cancelations on routes to Beijing or Teheran. It is estimated that ensuing cuts to short- and medium-range timetables will reduce Lufthansa’s offerings by up to a quarter.
Until recently, it was unthinkable that the biggest German carrier would ever reduce the number of its domestic flights in Germany. But now a total of 23 planes out of Lufthansa’s fleet of 760 aircraft have been grounded.
Reuters – The world’s top three central banks look set to take steps to limit the economic damage from the fast-spreading coronavirus, with the heads of the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan issuing emergency statements on Monday that echoed one from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell late last week.
The day kicked off with BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda pledging to take actions as needed to stabilize markets jolted by the coronavirus outbreak, and ECB President Christine Lagarde followed suit late in the day with a comparable statement. Powell on Friday promised the Fed would “act as appropriate” to support the U.S. economy.
“We stand ready to take appropriate and targeted measures, as necessary and commensurate with the underlying risks,” Lagarde said in a statement issued shortly after U.S. stock markets closed. “The coronavirus outbreak is a fast developing situation, which creates risks for the economic outlook and the functioning of financial markets.”
The reassurances from the world’s leading finance officials were a main catalyst behind Monday’s global rebound in stock markets, which had suffered breathtaking losses in late February as it became evident the virus would not be contained to its original epicenter in China.
Reuters – Global equity markets seesawed in volatile trade and gold prices rose more than 2% on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates in an emergency move to shield the U.S. economy from the impact of the coronavirus.
Reuters – U.S. President Donald Trump called for further cut rates after the Federal Reserve earlier on Tuesday slashed rates by half percentage point in an emergency move designed to insulate the nation’s economy from the impact of the coronavirus.
“The Federal Reserve is cutting but must further ease and, most importantly, come into line with other countries/competitors. We are not playing on a level field. Not fair to USA. It is finally time for the Federal Reserve to LEAD. More easing and cutting!” tweeted Trump, who has long criticized the U.S. central bank and urged lower rates.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday said he supports the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates in response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, its first emergency rate cut since 2008 at the height of the financial crisis.
AP – Tornadoes have ripped across Tennessee overnight, shredding at least 40 buildings and killing at least 19 people.
One of the twisters caused severe damage across downtown Nashville on Tuesday, leaving blown-down walls and roofs, snapped power lines, huge broken trees, and city streets in gridlock.
Schools, courts, transit lines, an airport and the state Capitol are closed. A historic church lost its bell tower and stained glass window.
Some polling stations were moved and others opened an hour late as Super Tuesday voting began.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper says “last night was a reminder about how fragile life is.”
The current young generation is the first to be born in the midst of smartphones, social networks and phone applications of all kinds.
It can be hard to find a balance between the right for kids to communicate and the protection of our young people. Not to mention the screen time, which, according to some experts, can be harmful to the brain.
All of this worries many parents, while others take it with a grain of salt. Most of them think they keep enough eye on the applications used by their children and teens, but in fact, it’s easy to get lost quickly and not see everything on their phones.
But it remains imperative to monitor the applications used by our children, as police in Sarasota, Florida told Fox News!
While not all of them are dangerous and some can be really useful, the Sarasota police felt there was a need to alert parents about certain apps that they should be aware of.
The list released last year by the sheriff’s office included social media, dating sites, and apps to hide certain content. The police want to prevent exposure to certain unwanted messages as well, including messages of a sexual, advertising or predatory nature.
Here are the 15 apps to watch:
Ask is an interface used to ask questions to users. This application encourages users to create anonymous profiles in order to ask questions of other users. The app is known to foster several cases of bullying and has unfortunately been linked to numerous suicides.
Badoo is a dating app where everyone can chat and share photos. It uses geolocation to allow one to meet other people nearby. And, even if it is only intended for adults, some minors are using it.
This app is similar to the well known Tinder. It puts men and women in contact to allow them to make possible meetings. Unlike Tinder, Bumble allows women to take the first contact step. Yes, this app is intended for adults only, but just like all the others – minors are still using it.
This application is used to hide content, photos, videos and files, so that they do not appear on one’s history. One easy way to bypass parental control.
Grindr is a dating app for people in the LGBTQ+ community that also uses the GPS position of smartphones.
This application allows you to chat live on video. It is said to be “addictive” and can expose one to racial slurs and illegal content.
This app allows users to assess others based on their physique and profile, and to chat with strangers. We don’t want that for our young people!
Loved by around 240 million users, this app promotes interaction between everyone, no matter when or where. Unlike other applications where we can choose our “friends”, kik offers an unlimited directory of contacts which can be dangerous for children and adolescents!
Here is a live streaming video application that uses geolocation to share videos so that other users can know the exact location of the broadcaster.
MeetMe is a proximity-based dating network that encourages users to see themselves in the real world.
This online dating site is for adults only, but minors can create and register fake accounts. Like everywhere else…
This mega popular app, which has been popular for a few years now, allows the distribution of images and photos with various features (such as the famous animal filters) and content that can disappear after 24 hours. Geolocation can also be shared there.
Formerly called musical.ly, this mobile app allows you to create and share videos. Its privacy controls are very limited and young users are exposed to bullying and explicit content from others.
This free messaging app allows you to send texts, photos, videos and make calls worldwide. Here again, vigilance is required.
It’s an anonymous social network encouraging the sharing of secrets with strangers. And then encourage them to meet which can be dangerous.
Note that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not mentioned in the list. But with these apps too, you have to be careful. In fact, we learned a few months ago that Instagram would be the preferred network of pedophiles! Parents, check all the privacy settings of your children’s apps and talk to them about what to do if there are “shady” things happening!
Study Finds – The mysteries of outer space never cease to astound the brightest scientists nor the novice astronomer gazing at the skies from his or her own backyard. That’s especially true following an unprecedented event recently observed in the cosmos. Astronomers in Perth, Australia detected the largest explosion ever found in the universe since the Big Bang.
Researchers at the Curtin University section of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy were observing a distant galaxy cluster when they detected a huge explosion at the center of a supermassive black hole in a galaxy about 390 million light-years from Earth. The explosion released five times more energy than the previous universal record holder.
“We’ve seen outbursts in the centers of galaxies before but this one is really, really massive,” said Curtin University professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt in a statement. “And we don’t know why it’s so big. But it happened very slowly — like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years.”
The area of space where this occurred is called the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster. The explosion was so powerful it blew a hole in the cluster plasma surrounding the supermassive black hole. Cluster plasma is super-heated gas around a black hole, a telltale sign of supermassive black holes, which can be found at the center of many galaxies, including our own.
Newsmax – Iron is mainly found in animal foods, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may not be getting enough of this important mineral. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Because iron is present in all cells and has several vital functions including carrying oxygen to the tissues from the lungs and storying oxygen in the muscles, too little iron can interfere with these processes and lead to anemia.
Sue Van Rues, a functional nutritionist and food psychology specialist from Boulder, Colorado, tells Newsmax that iron found in plants is not as readily absorbed as iron found in animal products and should be consumed along with vitamin C, which is found in citrus products, broccoli, and tomato.
“Try these plant-based foods that are rich in iron to ensure you reach your optimum iron levels and avoid the many health issues associated with iron-deficiency anemia,” she says.
Newsmax- There’s a new, unexpected reason to keep your pearly whites gleaming: avoiding diabetes.
New research found that people who regularly brush their teeth three times a day reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study also found that people who have dental disease or a lot of missing teeth have a higher risk of developing the blood sugar condition.
“Our study suggested that improved oral hygiene may be associated with a decreased risk of new-onset diabetes,” said study author Dr. Yoonkyung Chang. She is a clinical assistant professor of neurology at Ewha Woman’s University Mokdong Hospital in South Korea.
Chang said the researchers don’t know what the exact mechanism behind this connection is, but there are a number of possible ways that poor dental health might contribute to diabetes.
“Poor oral hygiene may be related to the chronic inflammatory process,” she said. Inflammation affects oral health and can lead to gum disease that creates space in the gum where bacteria can collect. That bacteria may then travel into the body’s circulation and trigger immune system responses, which might impair blood sugar control.
But it’s difficult to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between dental health and diabetes because many factors involved in poor oral health are also linked to type 2 diabetes.
Gulf War Marine Corps veteran David Price was low on propane right before a snowstorm hit the Augusta area last month. Dead River Propane Company had reportedly previously tried to make a delivery to his house – which is down a dirt road – but conditions were too icy to complete the trek.
Because Price works over an hour away from his home, he decided to stay at another house for the time being, still hoping that a delivery person would come the next day.
“But, at this point, it’s snowed. I haven’t done any of the snow removal or shoveling to the tank — but I’m still hoping that the guy would show up and make the delivery,” he told Fox News.
“And, I really had given some thought to asking my boss if I could leave work and go fix my flag,” he noted. “And then, I get an alert on my phone – my security cameras – and it’s the delivery driver.”
Price said that he watched 46-year-old Anthony Gagliardi trudge through approximately 30 yards of six to seven inches of snow, against the wind, and pull his propane hose from his truck.
Price said Gagliardi immediately picked up the flag and dusted it off as his “first priority.”
“You know, he could have walked by the flag. He could have done the delivery first, come back, and gotten it. Whatever. But, he immediately saw that flag and took the time to clean it off, put it up, make sure it was upright, and then went and did his delivery,” he said, adding that when he watched the tape, it reminded him of the iconic World War II scene.
“So, I thought that was very motivating. Especially that day – I think it was the 19th – was the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima. Which, obviously, has that iconic raising [of] the American flag. So, I was seeing that all day long like at work and everything, and for my flag to hit the deck – and I’m a Marine – was kind of heartbreaking.”
“But, you know, it was just kind of fitting on that day to watch someone – you know – pick up the flag and raise it,” he continued. “And, 75 years later, the respect for the flag that these Marines fought and died for – that millions of people fought and died for – exists even for [a] propane delivery driver on a really windy, snowy, day in Maine when no one was looking.”
Gagliardi told Fox News he didn’t hesitate.
“I went right over to it, cleaned it off, put it back up, and continued on [with] my job,” he remarked.
“A lot of people have fought and died for our country and our flag,” he explained. “When you disrespect something like that, that really gets to me. We may not agree [with] what’s going on with the country, but there’s no reason to down the country. I mean, we choose to live here.”
Gagliardi, a single father, was born on Veteran’s Day and was raised in a military family. His brother was in the Marines and committed suicide in 2011 after struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Price said his story is what he believes America is about.