President Joe Biden announced that the United States would unconditionally withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 — exactly 20 years after the events of 9/11, hatched by al-Qaeda on Afghan soil, provoked a U.S. invasion to topple the then-ruling Taliban. Ground Zero for the second President Bush's 'War on Terror', it turned into a quagmire with no workable exit strategy. Instead it turned into America's longest war, the poster child for a public grown weary with engagements abroad that lack clear objectives and only seem to drag on, pejoratively named the Forever Wars.
The casualty count may tick slowly, but it is never rescinding, and over twenty years, the bodybags arriving daily at Dover AFB in Delaware tend to pile up pretty high. More than 2300 US soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, and 10,000 injured. With time, as the world gains a more nuanced understanding of mental health issues, the effect of the war on veterans grows starker in its horror, the scale of its prevalence.
The Brazilian government’s negligent response to Covid-19 has plunged the South American country into a snowballing “humanitarian catastrophe” that is likely to intensify in the coming weeks, the medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières warned. “I have to be very clear in this: the Brazilian authorities’ negligence is costing lives,” the group’s international president, Christos Christou, told reporters after Brazil’s official death toll rose to more than 362,000, second only to the US.
Meinie Nicolai, MSF’s general director, said the actions of the Brazilian government – which under its far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, has downplayed the epidemic, shunned containment measures and promoted treatments with no scientific basis – had made it “a threat to its own population”. The shambolic response has cast Latin America’s largest country in an unfamiliar and unpleasant role: that of a Covid-riddled, science-shunning, politically-unstable outcast on whom many regional neighbors are now shutting the door.
The United Nations and its aid partners have seen no proof of a declared withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia’s Tigray region, according to the world body’s top humanitarian official, who also warned the situation in the embattled region has deteriorated. The comments by Mark Lowcock during a closed-door UN Security Council meeting came more than two weeks after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Eritrea had agreed to withdraw the allied forces it had sent into the northern Ethiopian region during the conflict that broke out there in November 2020.
Abiy declared victory after federal forces entered the regional capital, Mekelle, on November 28 but fighting has continued and analysts warn of a prolonged deadlock in a conflict that is believed to have killed thousands of people and left more than five million people in need of aid.
Zookeepers at Cuba’s National Zoo in Havana are celebrating the birth of four Bengal tiger cubs, among them, a rare white tiger. The birth of the four striped cubs on March 12 came after trying for 20 years to breed the endangered animals. The cubs were born to Fiona and her mate Garfield. “It was a normal birth. Everything went well and she’s now started to carry out her role as a mother,” said Angel Cordero, a tiger specialist at the zoo. “She’s a good mother.”
The cubs have not yet been named and their genders were not announced. White tigers are a genetic variation of the better-known orange Bengal tigers. Thousands of tigers once roamed the forests in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. But their numbers have plummeted to about 2,500, wildlife experts say. Poaching, deforestation and over-hunting have all taken their toll. Three of the world’s nine tiger sub-species fell extinct last century, and many scientists believe a fourth, the South China tiger, is already functionally extinct.