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CentralMass's Journal
CentralMass's Journal
August 15, 2021

A timeline of more than 40 years of war in Afghanistan


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

me officially collapses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2, 2021 — The United States hands over Bagram Airfield to Afghan military control after the last troops in the base leave. The transfer of Bagram, the heart of the U.S. military’s presence in Afghanistan throughout the war, signals that the complete pullout of American troops is imminent, expected within days, far ahead of Biden’s Sept. 11 timetable."
August 15, 2021

National Geographic: As the Taliban rise again, Afghanistan's past threatens its present


"The freedoms Afghans have gained since 2001 are in jeopardy as extremists surge across the nation, spurred by U.S. exit."

More at the link, it is worth the read.
July 31, 2021

From January: These 10 Billionaires Went All-In Trying to Get Donald Trump Reelected

"Meet the top individual financiers of the “Coup Caucus.”
"On the Republican side, IPS’s Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo have compiled a list of 63 billionaires, with estimated combined assets of almost $244 billion, who helped bankroll this post-election fiasco by giving generous personal contributions to Trump Victory—the joint fundraising venture set up between the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee after the 2018 midterms to secure the reelection of Trump and his congressional loyalists. This group represents just a fraction of America’s estimated 788 billionaires, but its steadfast support has been enough to put—and keep—many a reality-denying scoundrel in office."
"Here’s a guide to the Top 10 billionaire Trump Victory donors, plus a few bonus bagmen, based on IPS’s research and data from the Federal Election Commission campaign finance database. All donations below are for the 2020 election cycle, and with a few minor exceptions, all went to Republicans. Figures are rounded and include contributions in the name of the billionaire’s current spouse."

"The Top 10 Billionaire Trump Victory Donors
Kelcy Lee Warren
Net worth (est.): $2.9 billion
Source of wealth: Gas pipelines; Chair and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners
Giving to Trump Victory (2020 cycle): $2.3 million
Overall federal giving (2020 cycle): $17 million
Fun fact: When he’s not busy bickering with activists over projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, Warren enjoys writing melancholy country ballads.

Isaac Perlmutter
Net worth (est.): $5.8 billion
Source of wealth: retired CEO of Marvel Entertainment
Trump Victory: $1.9 million
Overall: $26 million
Fun fact: In August 2018, ProPublica revealed that Perlmutter and two fellow members of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club were given leave to dictate doings at the Veterans Affairs department, where they “hovered over public servants without any transparency, accountability or oversight.” The three men spoke daily with VA officials “reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions.” And VA “officials travelled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views. ‘Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring’ a former administration official said.”

Kenny Troutt
Est. net worth: $1.5 billion
Source of fortune: telecom; founded Excel Communications
Trump Victory: $1.9 million
Overall: $5 million
Fun fact: Troutt owns a 2,400-acre Kentucky thoroughbred farm whose notable pedigree includes 2010 Derby winner Super Saver, 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer, 2016 Belmont Stakes winner Creator, and Justify, the horse that took the 2018 Triple Crown. Alas, Troutt backed the wrong horse in 2020.

Robert Duggan
Net worth (est.): $2.6 billion
Source of fortune: biotech and investing; former CEO of Pharmacyclics
Trump Victory: $1.6 million
Overall: $4.3 million
Fun fact: Duggan is a devoted Scientologist, and one of the Church of Scientology’s top donors, if not its biggest, with total contributions exceeding $360 million. “I’m not looking for bragging rights,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in 2019. “I read something from [Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard] every day and I apply it all throughout my life.”

Steve Wynn
Net worth (est.): $3 billion
Source of fortune: casinos; developed the Mirage, the Golden Nugget, and the Bellagio, among others
Trump Victory: $1.5 million
Overall: $15 million
Fun fact: Wynn resigned as a Republican National Committee finance chair in January 2018 after a Wall Street Journal report revealed allegations of sexual harassment against him.

Phillip Gene Ruffin
Net worth (est.): $2.3 billion
Source of fortune: casinos; owns Treasure Island and Circus Circus
Trump Victory: $1.4 million
Overall: $2.7 million
Fun fact: Ruffin, co-owner of the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, had Trump as best man at his third wedding. In October 2016, Ruffin told Fox News’ Lou Dobbs that Trump’s handshake is “better than any contract.”

Diane Hendricks
Net worth (est.): $8 billion
Source of fortune: roofing materials; she and her late husband cofounded ABC Supply
Trump Victory: $1.2 million
Overall: $10 million
Fun fact: Hendricks—Wisconsin’s wealthiest woman, and said to be America’s wealthiest “self-made” woman—was also among the top donors to Scott Walker, the state’s anti-union Republican governor. She also reportedly gave Walker $500,000 to fend off a 2012 recall attempt. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel later reported that Hendricks paid zero in state taxes from 2012 to 2014.

Sheldon Adelson
Net worth (est.): ~$36 billion
Source of fortune: casinos; founded Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Trump Victory: $1.2 million
Overall: $220 million
Fun fact: Although Sheldon died this past week, he and his wife, Miriam, were not merely Donald Trump’s top donors, they led the pack in all federal giving during the 2020 cycle. Sheldon’s heirs certainly won’t starve. Some time back, Bloomberg reported that the Adelsons deployed a series of complex trusts to transfer at least $7.9 billion to them, thereby avoiding $2.8 billion in federal gift and estate taxes.

Daniel Andrew Beal
Net worth (est.): $7.5 billion
Source of fortune: banking; founded Beal Bank
Trump Victory: $1.2 million
Overall: $1.6 million
Fun fact: Beal, a numbers whiz, is known in math circles for sponsoring a prize related to a formula called the Beal Conjecture. If you can prove or disprove it, he will give you $1 million. (Trump did not solve the conjecture, of course, but he managed to get lots of Beal’s cash anyway.)"
July 2, 2021

John Prine- How Lucky

June 29, 2021

NYC Just Shut Down a Tesla Taxi Fleet in Favor of Gas Guzzlers

"NYC Just Shut Down a Tesla Taxi Fleet in Favor of Gas Guzzlers
Dan Robitzski in Advanced TransportOn June 23, 2021
Tesla and the electric scooter company Revel planned to launch a fleet of taxis in New York City, but regulators shot the plan down.

Grounded Fleet
New York City regulators stepped in to quash a planned fleet of Tesla taxis in the city, and the logic behind the decision is baffling.

Tesla had partnered with the electric scooter startup Revel to launch a fleet of 50 Tesla Model Y taxis in the Big Apple, according to the New York Post. But the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) blocked the companies from buying the necessary licenses for the vehicles on Tuesday — ruling that Tesla and Revel would need to buy the licenses for gas-burning vehicles instead.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk summed it up pretty well on Twitter, where he posted “??”

Rushed Vote
According to the NY Post’s reporting, the commission voted five to one that in order for the fleet of Revel-branded Teslas to hit the streets, the companies would need to purchase and license 50 internal combustion engine vehicles and then transfer those licenses to the electric Model Ys.

“It’s not just Elon Musk who is baffled by the TLC’s actions yesterday,” Revel CEO Frank Reig told the NY Post after the announcement. “Rushing to vote on a rule change that keeps EVs off the street and threatens jobs — with no analysis, on an election day, two months ahead of a scheduled review — raises a lot of questions.”

Congestion Control
TLC Commissioner Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk said that it’s nothing personal against Revel or Tesla, or even against electric cars in general. Rather, the decision was based on preventing even more traffic in the city, something that companies like Uber and Lyft tend to make worse. However, it’s not clear why the two types of cars would still be treated any differently.

“It is not sustainable to allow an unlimited number of new vehicles to the road in a city that is all too familiar with the choke of traffic congestion,” Heredia Jarmoszuk said before voting at the Tuesday meeting, according to the NY Post. “What we will not allow is the opportunity for another corporation — venture capitalists or otherwise — to flood our streets with additional cars.”
June 13, 2021

Transcript: Senator Susan Collins on "Face the Nation," June 13, 2021

The intro:
"JOHN DICKERSON: Now for a discussion about matters back here at home. A bipartisan group of senators announced a new infrastructure package last week that would cost $1.2 trillion over eight years. One member of the group is Senator Susan Collins, who joins us from Bangor, Maine. Good morning, Senator."


I caught a few minutes of Collins on Face The Nation this am talking about the repuke version of the infrastructure bill this am. That's all I could take. I really despise the republican party to it's core. They are a pack of blood sucking scumbags.

An excerpt or two.
"SEN. COLLINS: There won't be a debt- a gas tax increase, and we won't be undoing the 2017 tax reform bill. Let me talk about three of the pay-fors. One is the implementation of an infrastructure financing authority that's very similar to the state revolving funds that we used for sewer and water projects. And it's a bipartisan proposal that was first put forth by Senators Mark Warner and Roy Blunt, as second would be to repurpose some of the COVID funding that has not been spent in the $1.9 trillion package that was enacted in March. There were restrictions on what the funding could be used for. It could be used for water, sewer and broadband. We would make it more flexible so it could be used for infrastructure projects. And third, there would be a provision for electric vehicles to pay their fair share of using our roads and bridges. Right now, they are literally free riders because they're not paying any gas tax. So those are three of the provisions that we've taken a look at."
"JOHN DICKERSON: One of the objections to taking back some of the money that was in the COVID relief plan is that some of the states have really benefited. They've done- they've done much better than they thought they would. Their tax receipts are up, but that's not true of all states. And so some states are saying you can't take away this money that's helping us recover from covid to then use it for infrastructure.

SEN. COLLINS: Well, I've talked to governors who are enthusiastic about the prospect, and when you have a state like California which has an enormous surplus, and yet we're giving billions of additional dollars to that state, I think we can find room to repurpose some of this money. In addition, if you look at what has been spent, there is literally hundreds of billions of dollars in the pipeline, going back to the initial Cares Act that was passed in March of last year. We have put an enormous amount of money, and rightfully so, into fighting COVID. Last year we had five bipartisan bills, and this year President Biden added another $1.9 trillion dollars. That included a lot of funding that was not directly for fighting COVID

JOHN DICKERSON: If- in this bill, a lot of what's falling out of the president's priorities on child care and on elder care, is that right?

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