Archive for Rebecca Cohen

2 Capitol rioters who prepped for the January 6 mob with a gas mask and Kevlar-lined gloves get prison time

journalists capitol riots cameras
In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol in Washington. Some people charged with storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are claiming they were only there to record history as journalists, not join a deadly insurrection.

Two friends from Ohio who stormed the Capital during the January 6 riot were sentenced to 45 days in jail on Wednesday, ABC News reported.

Derek Jancart, an Air Force veteran, and Erik Rau, a steel-mill worker, previously pleaded guilty to non-violent misdemeanors.

While the pair weren't accused of violence or conspiracy to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's win, they were still given jail time after prosecutors noted that they prepared for violence at the insurrection.

Prosecutors said Jancart brought a gas mask and two-way radios to the January 6 riot, while Rau brought Kevlar-lined gloves and medical supplies.

Jancart and Rau spent 40 minutes inside the Capitol building with the mob. Jancart celebrated reaching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's conference room on social media, according to ABC News.

Both have since apologized for their actions, ABC reported, with Jancart claiming he was "caught up in the moment."

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About 100 Americans are still trying to get out of Afghanistan

passengers on tarmac at kabul airport in afghanistan
Passengers walk on the tarmac to board a commercial aircraft bound to Kabul at Herat Airport on September 22, 2021.
  • About 100 Americans are still waiting to leave Afghanistan, Reuters reported on Monday.
  • US troops left on August 30, effectively ending the war in Afghanistan.
  • This makes it more difficult for US citizens and permanent residents to return home.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

About 100 US citizens and permanent residents are still waiting to leave Afghanistan, an anonymous senior State Department official told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters.

"Our highest priority in Afghanistan, of course, remains helping those American citizens who wish to leave the country now to do so," the official said.

The war in Afghanistan effectively ended on August 30 as the remaining US troops left the country, making it more difficult to evacuate Americans who want to come back home. But roughly 85 Americans and 79 legal permanent residents have left Afghanistan on various flights since the last troops departed, per what the official told Reuters.

The Biden administration faced bipartisan criticism over its handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal - particularly over the fact that Americans and thousands of Afghan allies were left behind.

As the US entered the final stages of the pullout, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan. The militant Islamists marched into Kabul in mid-August after rapidly taking over major cities - often without much of a fight from Afghan forces. The Taliban takeover prompted panic in Kabul and scenes of chaos at the capital city's airport, as thousands of people desperately tried to flee the country. The US was able to evacuate roughly 124,000 people after the Afghan government fell.

During the evacuations, ISIS-K staged a devastating suicide attack near the airport, killing 13 US service members and 169 Afghans. The US responded with drone strikes, one of which killed 10 Afghan civilians - including seven children.

Since the US completed the withdrawal, the Taliban established an all-male interim government. Among the ministers is the leader of a US-designated terror group who's wanted by the FBI.

Though the militants have sought to pose as moderates since regaining control of Afghanistan, they've also violently cracked down on dissent and been accused of human rights violations. One of the founders of the Taliban also recently told the Associated Press that the militant group will bring back public executions and hand amputations as a form of punishment.

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Gov. DeSantis just lost his latest bid to ban mask mandates in Florida schools – for now

ron desantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference to announce the opening of a monoclonal antibody treatment site for COVID-19 patients at Lakes Church in Lakeland, Florida on August 21, 2021.
  • A judge ruled Wednesday Florida schools can continue to impose mask mandates for now.
  • Last month, a judge ruled Gov. Ron DeSantis did not have the authority to issue a mask ban.
  • Now his mask mandate ban is on hold while a court considers his appeal.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Florida school districts can continue enforcing mask mandates, despite Gov. Ron DeSantis' appeal.

Second Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that Florida must stop enforcing the governor's mask mandate ban, which means school districts in the state can continue to require masks while the case is appealed in a higher court, CNN reported on Wednesday.

This comes after Judge John Cooper ruled last month the governor did not have authority to issue a mask ban. But DeSantis appealed and his order stood while a higher court considered it.

Cooper said there was "overwhelming evidence" presented to him in a lawsuit by Florida parents that wearing masks in school settings does provide protection, especially for those kids under 12 who have yet to be vaccinated, the Associated Press reported.

"We're not in normal times. We are in a pandemic," Cooper said during a hearing held remotely, according to the AP. "We have a (coronavirus) variant that is more infectious and dangerous to children than the one we had last year."

After Cooper's initial ruling, mask bans in districts were immediately lifted. A number of districts had already defied the governor's ban, though, and were imposing mask mandates anyways.

DeSantis initially ordered the mask ban in July, saying that it gave parents the right to make the choice for their own children, but Cooper ruled it also removed the government's authority to impose actions that are needed to protect public health.

"This ruling was made with incoherent justifications, not based in science and facts - frankly not even remotely focused on the merits of the case presented," Taryn Fenske, DeSantis' communications director, said in a statement following Cooper's ruling.

The case goes to the First District Court of Appeals next, but could ultimately be decided by the state's supreme court, the AP reported. DeSantis is hopeful the state will prevail, he said at an appearance Wednesday, according to the AP.

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Medical professionals in DC could lose their licenses if they don’t get vaccinated by the end of September

US Military Vaccine
  • DC healthcare workers could lose their licenses if they don't get vaccinated soon.
  • Testing regularly for the coronavirus will no longer be an option come September 30.
  • Religious and medical exemptions are still available for those who qualify, DC said Wednesday.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Medical professionals in Washington, DC, could lose their licenses if they don't get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 30.

The DC Health Department released new vaccination guidelines for licensees on Wednesday.

While there are medical and religious exemptions available, there will not be an option to get regular COVID-19 tests to prove negativity, NBC Washington first reported.

"Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action against your license, including but not limited to suspension, revocation, or non-renewal of said license," the Health Department guidelines say.

In a statement NBC Washington reporter Mark Segraves shared, the DC Department of Health said the city has an "alarming number" of unvaccinated medical professionals who could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The move comes after an announcement last month that said all DC healthcare workers would be required to get the vaccine, but in that announcement, there was no indication whether weekly testing would be an option, NPR reported.

Separately, DC's vaccine mandate for government workers goes into effect on September 19, but those guidelines allow people who don't get vaccinated to get weekly tests in lieu of a shot, according to NPR. The same goes for federal workers under President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate.

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Social Security will start to run out of funding for full payments in 2034, a year earlier than predicted due to the pandemic

Social Security
Undated handout photo show counterfeit social security cards that were confiscated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents during worksite investigations in San Diego, California.
  • The latest report from the trustees of Social Security says the program will run out of money for full payments by 2033.
  • That's a year earlier than previously projected; the report estimates the impact of the pandemic.
  • There is precedent for Congressional action to revitalize the program's funding.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Social Security is set to run out of funds for full payments in 2034, a year earlier than the previously predicted 2035, according to a new report from the US Treasury Department.

If no action is taken by 2034 to shore up the fund, "the combined funds' reserves will become depleted and continuing tax income will be sufficient to pay 78 percent of scheduled benefits," the report said.

The report blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession for moving up the date that full payments will stop.

Warnings about how long Social Security's reserves could hold up have been coming for years. The projections from the program's Trustees reflect their "best estimates" of the pandemic's impact. The trustees also project that that mortality rates will be elevated through 2023 due to the pandemic.

"Having strong Social Security and Medicare programs is essential in order to ensure a secure retirement for all Americans, especially for our most vulnerable populations," Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a statement. "The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to safeguarding these programs and ensuring they continue to deliver economic security and health care to older Americans."

The Social Security Administration's Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said that the program serves 65 million beneficiaries.

Notably, as the AARP reports, that doesn't mean that Social Security will go full broke in 2034 - it'll just run out of its current surplus and rely on what's brought in from taxes. That amount is what's projected to not fund 100% of the benefits, but instead just 78%.

As the Associated Press reports, there's also precedent for Congressional action to replenish Social Security and its funding mechanism. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan worked alongside a bipartisan Congressional commission to pass a plan to reform the program's funding and structure.

"A tumultuous debate about Social Security has raged for more than two decades in this country; but there has been one point that has won universal agreement: The Social Security system must be preserved," Reagan said at the signing of the Social Security Amendments.

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Live updates: Dozens of Afghans and at least 13 US troops killed in 2 blasts near the airport in Kabul

Smoke rises from explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021
Smoke rises from explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021
  • At least two explosions went off in Kabul near the airport on Thursday resulting in both US and Afghan casualties.
  • The first blast was at the Abbey Gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport; the second was at the Baron Hotel nearby.
  • At least 13 US service members and dozens of civilians were killed.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

At least two blasts near the airport in Kabul on Thursday have caused multiple American and Afghan casualties.

At least 13 US service members were killed and at least 18 were wounded. CNN is reporting that at least 60 Afghans were killed during the blasts, citing Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health.

The two explosions, one at the Abbey Gate outside of the airport and the other at the Baron Hotel nearby, are believed to have been carried out by ISIS, according to US officials.

Evacuation flights airlifting people out of Kabul resumed on Friday morning
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.
Residents in Kabul told the AP that they saw several flights taking off on Friday morning, hours after a string of suicide bombings devastated the area outside Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Evacuation flights airlifting people out of Afghanistan resumed on Friday morning, per the AP

The news outlet spoke to Kabul residents, who reported seeing several flights leaving Kabul on Friday morning. 

The flights resumed a matter of hours after two deadly suicide bombings decimated the area outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Biden vowed in his address to the nation on Thursday that he would get Americans and their Afghan allies out of Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that since August 14, more than 82,300 people have been safely airlifted out of Kabul. He added that this number includes more than 4,500 US citizens, and estimated that there may be 1,500 US citizens left in Afghanistan that need to be evacuated. 

Meanwhile, the UK said on Friday morning that it has entered the last stages of its evacuation process in Kabul and that the British processing center for eligible Afghans is now closed, per Reuters.

Vice President Kamala Harris paid tribute to the American service members who were killed in the Kabul suicide bombings, calling them 'heroes'
kamala harris
US Vice President Kamala Harris paid tribute on Thursday to the 13 fallen soldiers who were killed in suicide bombings outside the Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul on August 26.

Vice President Kamala Harris on August 26 paid tribute to the 13 American military members killed in deadly suicide bombings that took place outside the Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Harris called the service members "heroes" who died saving countless lives in a statement released on Twitter.

"Doug and I grieve for the Americans we lost, we pray for the Americans injured in the attack, and our hearts go out to their loved ones. We also grieve for the Afghan civilians killed and injured," Harris wrote. 

"Our country is grateful to our women and men in uniform, and in particular, those working today to get Americans and our Afghan partners out of harm's way," Harris added. "We will complete that mission. Today, we honor those who gave their lives in service to their nation. We will never forget." 

Separately, the White House announced that US flags will be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Monday to honor the service members who died in the suicide bombings. 

"As a mark of respect, starting today the United States flag will be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations and on all naval vessels of the federal government and the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on August 26

The White House says it is 'not a day for politics' amid calls for Biden's resignation after the Kabul suicide bombings
jen psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on August 26 dismissed calls from GOP lawmakers for Biden to resign, saying that a day when US military members have died is "not a day for politics."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on August 26 dismissed calls from GOP lawmakers for President Joe Biden to resign over the suicide bombings outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed at least 13 US military members and dozens of Afghans. 

"I would say, first, this is a day where US service members — 12 of them — lost their lives at the hands of terrorists," Psaki said.

A 13th service member was declared dead following Psaki's remarks. 

"I can confirm that subsequent to Gen. McKenzie's remarks, a thirteenth US service member has died from his wounds suffered as a result of the attack on Abbey Gate," a spokesperson from CENTCOM said. 

Biden is facing calls to resign from at least 20 House Republicans and conservative figures like Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn

 


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Biden says he has ordered a retaliatory strike on ISIS-K after the suicide bombings at Kabul airport
biden afghanistan address august 27 2021
President Joe Biden vowed retaliation on ISIS-K after the suicide bombings at Kabul airport.

President Joe Biden said on August 26 that he had ordered US military commanders to develop plans for a retaliatory strike against ISIS-K, the Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate that claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bomb attacks near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The US military will be developing operational plans to "strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities," said the president on Thursday, following a string of suicide bombings at the Kabul airport that killed at least 13 American military members and dozens of Afghans looking to seek refuge on airlifts out of the country. 

"We will respond with force and precision in our time, at a place we choose, in a manner of our choosing," Biden said in his address.


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The attack resulted in at least 60 deaths and 140 injuries, according to the BBC
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Taliban fighters stand on a pickup truck outside a hospital as volunteers bring injured people for treatment after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021.
Graphic content / Taliban fighters stand on a pickup truck outside a hospital as volunteers bring injured people for treatment after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021.

The AP and Reuters are reporting that at least 60 Afghans were killed, citing information from a senior health official in Kabul. CNN, too, is reporting at least 60 Afghan civilians, citing the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan.

However, the numbers remain unclear, with others telling The New York Times a range of at least 30 to 60 dead and 120 to 140 injured. The Taliban said at least 13 civilians were killed and 60 injured, according to The Times.

The death toll for US service members grows to 13
kabul explosion afghanistan
Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.

At least 13 US service members were killed, and at least 18 were wounded, as of Thursday evening — updated numbers from earlier on Thursday. 

The news of the thirteenth US service member's death came hours after Commander of US Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie's announcement that 12 had been killed.

"I can confirm that subsequent to Gen. McKenzie's remarks, a thirteenth US service member has died from his wounds suffered as a result of the attack on Abbey Gate," a spokesperson from CENTCOM said. 

CENTCOM said that those injured are being transported via air "on specially equipped C-17s with embarked surgical units."

"We continue to provide the best possible medical care to those injured. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the injured and to the friends and family of those who were killed," CENTCOM concluded. 

Biden addressed the nation on Thursday following the attack in Kabul
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 26: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House on August 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. At least 12 American service members were killed on Thursday by suicide bomb attacks near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House on August 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. At least 12 American service members were killed on Thursday by suicide bomb attacks near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden assured the American people that the US citizens will continue to be evacuated despite the attacks in Kabul on Thursday. He said that the attacks were more reason to evacuate Americans by the August 31 deadline. 

"We will rescue the Americans. We will get our Afghan allies out. And our mission will go on," he said.

The President also promised to exact retribution on those responsible for the attack: "We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay."


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Recent bombing heard in Kabul said to be controlled explosion by US military, a Taliban spokesman said
Taliban spokesman
Suhail Shaheen of the Taliban's political office during a press conference at Radisson Hotel, Moscow on July 9 2021.

Reports of a recent blast heard in Kabul is said to have been a controlled explosion set off by the US military in an effort to destroy ammunition, a Taliban spokesperson said

There have been no further confirmations of other bombings in Kabul by the Pentagon at this time. 

Biden will speak Thursday evening following terror attacks in Afghanistan that killed multiple US service members
joe biden
U.S. President Joe Biden pauses while giving remarks on the worsening crisis in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House August 16, 2021.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks on Afghanistan on Thursday evening following multiple deadly explosions at the Kabul airport. 

The president is set to speak at 5:00 p.m. ET and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will brief reporters at 5:45 p.m. following Biden's speech.

Biden's address comes after Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., a top commander of US Central Command, warned that the ISIS-linked terror attacks are likely to continue amid the ongoing evacuation in Kabul.


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Witnesses describe scenes of horror following attacks at Kabul airport
Kabul, Afghanistan
A US Black Hawk military helicopter flies over the city of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, August 15, 2021.

Witnesses described scenes of horror and chaos Thursday in the aftermath of multiple deadly bombings outside the Kabul airport. 

The attacks — believed to have been carried out by the Islamic State terror group affiliate, ISIS-K — rocked the entrance to an airport that has been the stage of desperation and heartbreak over the last two weeks. 

"There was a very strong and powerful suicide attack, in the middle of the people. Many were killed, including Americans," a witness who only identified himself as Jamshed told Reuters


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Afghan interpreter who witnessed Kabul explosions says a baby girl died in his arms as he tried to save her
A view of a hospital as unspecified number of casualties reported after two explosions outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.
A view of a hospital as unspecified number of casualties reported after two explosions outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.

An Afghan interpreter who was at the scene of the first explosion outside the Kabul airport on Thursday said a baby girl died in his arms as he tried to save her.

"There was a lot of traffic. I had to get out and pick her up again," he told CBS News. "I took her to the hospital, but she died on my hands. ... I tried. I did my best to help her."

The baby girl has not been publicly identified. At least 60 people are believed to be dead and 140 injured following explosions at Abbey Gate and a nearby hotel, according to reports


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Top US general warns ISIS-K attacks likely to continue in Afghanistan and that they US will pursue those responsible
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie
Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2021

Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command, on Thursday confirmed that terror attacks in Kabul killed at least 12 US service members.

He said at least 15 other service members were wounded and attributed the attacks to ISIS-K, the Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan.

"The threat from ISIS is extremely real," McKenzie said. "We believe it is their desire to continue those attacks, and we expect those attacks to continue."


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US will keep evacuating all Americans and allies despite Kabul bombings, top general says
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Kabul airport

The US will continue to evacuate Americans and allies despite multiple deadly bombings outside the Kabul airport, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of the US Central Command, said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

"The plan is designed to operate under stress and under attack," he said. "And we will coordinate to make sure it's safe for American citizens to come to the airfield. If it's not, we'll tell them to hold and work other ways to get them to the airport. We'll continue to flow them out until the end of the month."

McKenzie said the mission is to evacuate US citizens, third-country nationals, special immigrant Visa holders, US embassy staff, and Afghans at risk.


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US troops were killed in an explosive attack at Kabul's airport, Pentagon says
US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan
US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan

Multiple US service members were killed in the deadly attacks at the Kabul airport on Thursday. 

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said in a press conference on Thursday, that at least 12 US service members were killed, and 15 others were wounded.

Thursday's deaths mark the first US military combat deaths in Afghanistan since February 2020.


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A map of the Kabul airport shows the choke points that make people trying to flee Afghanistan so vulnerable to attacks
Map of where explosions occurred near the Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan.

A map of the Kabul airport clearly shows the overcrowded areas that were vulnerable to attacks like the ones seen on Thursday. 

The Abbey Gate was flooded with desperate Afghans attempting to flee the country. 

The Baron Hotel was being used by Canada and the United Kingdom to collect Afghans approved for evacuation. Last week, American helicopters transported 169 Americans from the hotel to the airport. 


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What is ISIS-K? The Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate is the Taliban's enemy and threatens US evacuations
Members of ISIS-K in Afghanistan.
Members of ISIS-K stand in front of their weapons as they surrendered to the government in Jalalabad, Nangarhar, Afghanistan on November 17, 2019.

ISIS-K, the Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate, is thought to be behind deadly bombings in Kabul on Thursday.

ISIS-K — the Islamic State in Khorasan Province or ISIS-Khorasan — are known to be sworn enemies of the Taliban. 

They remain a threat as evacuations in Kabul continue over the next five days. 


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There were multiple explosions during a 'complex attack' outside Kabul airport amid evacuations, Pentagon says
People who want to flee the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 25, 2021
People who want to flee the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 25, 2021.

There were at least two explosions just outside the Kabul airport as Americans and Afghans waited to flee the country. 

The Pentagon confirmed that it was "a complex attack" that resulted in US and civilian casualties and is warning of more potential terrorist attacks. 

The first explosion took place at the Abbey Gate and the second was at the nearby Baron Hotel. 


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The lucky ones: Photos show Afghans arriving in Virginia after evacuating Kabul
Afghan families arrive in Washington D.C.

More than 8,600 lucky Afghans arrived at Dulles International Airport in Virginia as of Wednesday, according to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

The evacuees were then taken to Dulles Expo Center in Fairfax County, a 100,000-square-foot convention center that was turned into a shelter.

But the shelter is only temporary. After they have been given medical assistance, they will wait to be taken to military installations across the US.


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Germany, Canada, and Belgium have finished evacuating people from Afghanistan as the US scrambles to get people out of Kabul
Crowds at kabul airport
Men stand behind barbed wire fencing at the Kabul airport.

As the US faces a hard evacuation deadline of August 31, Germany, Canada, Poland, and Belgium have completed their evacuation missions from Kabul.

The Czech Republic finished their evacuation efforts last week, and France is set to complete theirs before the US


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The US has 5 more days to get people out of Afghanistan, but Taliban and ISIS attacks are preventing people from reaching the airport
Kabul airport
People who want to flee the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 24, 2021.

The Biden Administration has five days until the evacuation deadline of August 31, which the president chose not to extend on Tuesday. 

But mounting threats and two bomb attacks are making the situation in Kabul even direr than it already was. 

Multiple American and Afghan casualties have been reported as a result of Thursday's blasts.


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A Florida health system is using refrigerated coolers because their morgues are full of patients who died from COVID-19

Hospital morgue drawers
Open hospital morgue drawers used for the storage of human bodies awaiting identification or autopsy.
  • The morgues at AdventHealth in Central Florida are full because so many people have died from COVID-19, WFTV-9 reported Thursday.
  • The hospital system is currently using refrigerated coolers to store the bodies.
  • The overcrowding is said to be due to slowdowns at the local funeral homes, so the hospital has to store bodies longer.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

AdventHealth in Central Florida has reached full capacity at its hospital morgues because so many people have died from COVID-19, WFTV-9 reported Thursday.

"We have begun utilizing rented, refrigerated coolers at 10 of our campuses throughout Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, & Volusia counties," read an email from the company the ABC affiliate obtained. "These coolers are quickly becoming filled also."

In a statement from the company sent to Insider, AdventHealth didn't specifically address the rented coolers.

"We have a robust emergency management program, which has allowed us to continue to care for our community during this surge with thorough planning and precautionary measures. With the spike of seriously ill patients in our hospitals, it's prudent that we prepare for an increase in deaths and are putting resources in place to provide additional capacity if needed," the statement said.

The overcrowding is said to be due to slowdowns at the local funeral homes, WFTV reported. Because of this, the hospital has to hold the bodies for more time.

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to rise, and Johns Hopkins University data shows hospitalizations are at a record high in the state. Overall, 66% of Floridians are fully vaccinated, but that percentage drops to 47% for 20-29-year-olds.

The state is averaging about 21,000 new cases, 17,000 hospitalizations, and 200 deaths per day.

At the height of New York City's coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, hospitals also used refrigerated trucks as temporary morgues.

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Biden promises ‘any American who wants to come home, we will get you home’ amid Afghanistan evacuation crisis

joe biden holds his hands up in front of a a gold back drop and in front of a lectern with the presidential seal
President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Wednesday.
  • Biden on Friday addressed the US effort to evacuate Americans, SIV applicants, and vulnerable Afghans.
  • "Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home," Biden said.
  • Biden said 5,700 people had been evacuated in the past 24 hours.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden promised on Friday that the United States would get any Americans left in Afghanistan out of the country as the Taliban consolidated power.

"Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home," Biden said.

Biden, standing alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was delivering remarks about the crisis in Afghanistan.

"This is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history," Biden said, detailing his administration's efforts to evacuate American citizens, Afghan applicants for special immigrant visas, and other "vulnerable Afghans."

Biden also committed to helping Afghan citizens who assisted the US military during the 20-year war flee the country if they wished.

Biden said more than 18,000 people had been evacuated since July. About 13,000 people had been evacuated since Saturday, and 5,700 people were evacuated on Thursday alone, he said. He added that the US had almost 6,000 troops in Kabul.

But chaos has plagued efforts to escape. Footage has shown people in Kabul desperately trying to escape by clinging to US jets. One disturbing video showed some people falling from a plane to their deaths.

"We've seen gut-wrenching images of panicked people acting out of sheer desperation," Biden said.

Despite reports of Taliban beatings at checkpoints around the airport, Biden said that he had "no indication" that Americans were having trouble getting to the airport and that the US had a safe-passage agreement with the Taliban.

He made a distinction, though, between Taliban forces allowing American passport holders through checkpoints and the difficulties that Americans might face with crowds outside the airport.

The US's expanding beyond the Kabul airport would be "likely to draw an awful lot of unintended consequences," Biden said. A State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said on Thursday that the US lacked the capacity to go beyond the airport.

The president has faced mounting criticism over his handling of the evacuation effort. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Friday that Biden should be impeached should any Americans be left behind in Afghanistan.

"There will be plenty of time to criticize and second-guess when this operation is over," Biden said. "But now, now I'm focused on getting this job done."

Reports emerged on Friday that Qatar was no longer accepting more Afghans because of capacity limits and that the US was looking toward other countries such as Germany. Biden said evacuation flights had since resumed.

Biden reiterated that he did not believe the US had an interest in remaining in Afghanistan and that some degree of chaos may have been inevitable.

"There's no way in which we'd be able to leave Afghanistan without some of what you see now," he said.

Biden also said he would convene a meeting of the G7 next week to coordinate a "united approach on Afghanistan moving forward."

Biden sought to highlight the failures of Afghanistan's government, saying that the US hadn't anticipated the "total demise of the Afghan national force" and that the "overwhelming consensus" had been that it would not collapse.

The president was initially set to travel to Wilmington, Delaware, following his speech but will stay in Washington for the night.

Watch Biden's full remarks below:

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Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt cleared in internal probe, according to report

Ashli Babbitt vigil
A vigil for Babbitt at the Legislative Mall in Dover, Delaware on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2020
  • The Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt has been formally exonerated, according to a department memo obtained by NBC News.
  • The unnamed officer shot Babbitt after she tried to climb through a door in the US Capitol on January 6.
  • Babbitt was among many rioters trying to forcefully enter the US Capitol.
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The Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt has been formally exonerated after an internal investigation, according to a department memo obtained by NBC News.

The officer fired at Babbitt as she and other January 6 rioters tried to enter a door inside the US Capitol that led to the Chamber of the US House of Representatives. Babbitt was climbing to reach a window of the wooden door when she was shot.

The name of the police officer has not been publicly revealed, though authorities said he will not face charges.

In April, the Justice Department announced that no charges were being brought against the officer.

At this time, there are no more investigations into the incident. "No further action will be taken in this matter," a memo from the commander of the Capitol Police's Office of Personal Responsibility said.

The Capitol Police Department did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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Florida’s education department warns school districts: Follow DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates within 48 hours or get fined

Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responds to a question from the media at a press conference at the Eau Gallie High School aviation hangar in Melbourne, Florida, on March 22, 2021.
  • Florida's Department of Education said it will fine school districts that do not comply with the mask ban.
  • Broward and Alachua counties, which imposed a mask mandate for their schools, have 48 hours to reverse it or they will pay the fine.
  • The state will withhold funds on a monthly basis that would add up to equal the total yearly salary of school board members who vote to impose the mandates.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Florida Department of Education said Friday that it will fine school districts that don't comply with Governor DeSantis' ban on mask mandates within 48 hours.

Both Broward and Alachua counties imposed a mask mandate for their schools, in defiance of the governor's ban.

The state is giving both counties 48 hours to reverse their mandates, or face a fine equal to the salaries of the school board members who voted to institute the mask rules, the statement said, reported by ABC affiliate WTXL Tallahassee.

"As an initial step, the Flordia Department of Education will then begin to withhold from state funds, on a monthly basis, an amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates until each district demonstrates compliance," the statement said.

COVID-19 cases are surging in Florida, with 15,402 new cases on Wednesday alone, the CDC reported. Despite this, DeSantis continues to push back on restrictions suggested by public health experts, like mask mandates.

DeSantis issued a state-wide mask mandate ban for schools last month, saying that parents have the right to choose whether their children wear masks in the classroom, not the districts, per the executive order.

Many other states have either imposed mask mandates for all students or allow the districts to impose their own mask mandates if they choose to do so, USA Today reported.

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