Tag Archives: collapse

Decks collapse during firefighter event; at least 22 injured

Decks collapse during firefighter event; at least 22 injuredA home’s multilevel deck collapsed Saturday evening at the Jersey Shore during an event weekend, trapping people and injuring at least 22, including some children, officials said. It was unclear how many people were on or under the decks at the time, or how many were firefighters, but authorities said those who were trapped were quickly removed. The annual convention attracts thousands of current and former firefighters to the resort town.



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'They hold our nation hostage and pay lip service to peace': Afghans respond to the collapse of US-Taliban talks

'They hold our nation hostage and pay lip service to peace': Afghans respond to the collapse of US-Taliban talksAfghans awoke on Sunday to find that months of negotiations that had electrified the country had been ended with a tweet. Over the course of three messages, the United States president halted talks between America and the Taliban after more than a year of meetings in the Gulf. Those talks, which had excluded the Afghan government, had been pored over and analysed for months by those at their mercy, but without a say. “The game is not played by Afghans,” said Ahmad Eqbal, 25-year-old medical graduate working in a Kabul private hospital. “The peace negotiation was symbolic, in which Afghan people were not involved. And now they have stopped talking.” “I feel that they play with our fates, and I feel being humiliated. But there is nothing we can do. We just watch.” The body of Sgt Elis Barreto Ortiz is repatriated to the US after he was killed in Kabul on September 5 Credit:  Cliff Owen/AP The negotiations in opulent Doha hotels had lent the Taliban credibility and legitimacy, when they were no more than a criminal group, the 25-year-old said. Ejas Ahmad Malikzada, a social activist based in Kabul, said the negotiations had been badly flawed and undermined the Afghan government, which has been cut out of talks. “[The Taliban] perceived that they were winning the war and the peace talks.” “It was the worst ever peace negotiation.” “I have mixed feelings. I am worried about the escalation of violence.” But he said he was also optimistic that presidential elections scheduled for the end of this month would now proceed, lending legitimacy to the Afghan government and strengthening its hand against the insurgents. As bombs tore through Kabul last week, it seemed difficult for many residents to believe that negotiations between American and Taliban envoys were making good progress. US military personnel in the Middle East Even as Donald Trump's lead negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, was last Monday telling an Afghan television channel an agreement had been finalised in principle, a truck bomb shook the capital's living rooms. That blast outside a compound housing foreign workers killed up to 30. Three days later at least 10 died when a van full of explosives detonated at a checkpoint close to Nato headquarters. Taliban fighters assaulted three provincial capitals last week and according to the New York Times, which keeps a tally of the conflict's dead, at least 179 pro-government forces and 110 civilians died over seven days. Afghan forces and civilians were being killed to strengthen the Taliban's negotiating hand said Hussain Sharifi, aged 25. “The peace process is very complicated, but Trump’s tweet raised hope for Afghans. We were the victims. It gave us hope that we enter direct talks with the Taliban with more leverage.” “We are in the worst situation. We face a dark future and everything changes so dramatically.” “They use as a political tool. When they talk, they target us.” “Like me, many people are worried about what happens next.” A market in Kabul's old city; many residents are desperate for an end to the violence Credit:  Ebrahim Noroozi/AP For Pashtana Barakzai, a 20-year-old politics student at the prestigious American University of Afghanistan, the talks had appeared to reward Taliban violence. “It's like they are holding a country hostage by gun and then they are negotiating peace,” she said. “It's basically not peace, it's the share of power that they want.” In the Afghan capital, before Mr Trump's announcement, the secrecy around talks, the fact Afghans were not present to discuss their own future, and the Taliban refusal to call a truce had fed a mixture of anxiety, anger and frustrated craving for peace. Many Kabul residents the Telegraph spoke to last week were desperate to end the violence which United Nations estimates say killed or wounded more than 11,000 civilians in 2018. They were not opposed to negotiations with the Taliban, but doubted whether the Taliban were talking in good faith. After Mr Trump's halting of talks, America's predicament remains grim however. Diplomats in Kabul said there was no prospect of a military solution to America's longest conflict. The Taliban's influence extends more widely in Afghanistan than at any time since 2001 and year-by-year the Afghan government gets weaker. Only a little over half the country's administrative districts are “controlled or influenced” by the Kabul government according to US estimates, with the rest either under the sway of the Taliban, or a contested no man's land. Under this scenario, America and Kabul's negotiating position gets weaker as time goes on. At some point the talks will have to be held again, said Graeme Smith, a consultant at International Crisis Group. “When do we get back to the negotiating table? Both sides are considering their options. It’s when, not if.”



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Chernobyl's 'sarcophagus,' which helped contain the spread of radiation, is being dismantled because it's teetering on collapse

Chernobyl's 'sarcophagus,' which helped contain the spread of radiation, is being dismantled because it's teetering on collapseThe Ukrainian company that manages the Chernobyl plant will tear down its protective "sarcophagus," which is surrounded by a 32,000-ton shell.



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With Collusion Collapse, Public Loses Interest in Mueller Theatrics

With Collusion Collapse, Public Loses Interest in Mueller TheatricsDear Sir, The public does not care.If the Trump Justice Department were to write a letter in response to House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff’s Tuesday night tirade, that’s what it would say.Well, okay, not exactly. I’m sure there’d be the obligatory “with due respect” throat clearing and whatever else decorum demands when camouflaging a flip of the middle finger. Make no mistake, though: The bird has been flipped.The night before former special counsel Robert Mueller’s much anticipated (and certain to be disappointing) appearance before two congressional committees, Chairman Schiff fired off a letter to protest limitations the Justice Department, at Mueller’s request, has imposed on his testimony.In essence, DOJ has ordered Mueller not to provide testimony outside the four corners of his report. This suits Mueller just fine since he does not want to testify at all. He made that clear in his May 29 press statement, attempting to foreclose a possible subpoena by insisting that he would have nothing to add to the two-volume, 448-page tome.Further, he gave Democrats what, from their perspective, is the best spin that could be put on the obstruction aspect of his probe: He had not “exonerated” the president, even though he neither found crimes, nor even considered whether crimes had occurred — the prosecutor’s peculiar interpretation of Justice Department guidance that forbids indictment of a sitting president.He was trying to tell them: This is as good as it gets. I am not going to say I would have indicted him if not for the guidance.But Democrats cannot leave well enough alone. They hope against hope that Mueller will break down — that Schiff, a former prosecutor, will have a Perry Mason moment, in which Mueller throws up his hands and confesses that, yes, if he could, he would throw the book at Trump.But it’s not going to happen. Mueller cannot give Democrats what they want because doing so would contradict his report. He’s not going to do that. He wanted a Justice Department directive that he not address matters outside the report so he could try to persuade Democrats not to bother asking him to explain his reasoning. Of course, they are going to ask him anyway, but he’s not going to tell them what they want to hear.In ordering Mueller to stick to the report, Justice relied on its usual rationales for denying information to Congress. This is a stew of privileges claimed to shield investigations, the deliberative process over investigative judgments, communications within the executive branch, communications with lawyers, and so on.Of course, Congress does not need to accept the executive’s privilege claims. The Justice Department is a creature of statute. It depends on Congress for its existence, funding, and lawful authority. Congress has the power to conduct oversight. If the administration does not cooperate, the Constitution gives lawmakers an array of weapons to attempt to induce compliance — control over the executive’s budget, public hearings to embarrass executive officials, contempt, censure, even impeachment.That is what Schiff’s letter to Mueller is meant to threaten. The chairman is making it clear that Congress is not bound by the executive’s claims of privilege.He has a problem, though. Disputes between the political branches are, well, political. Congress’s arsenal of powers to check executive departments is political. And to be a meaningful weapon, political power needs public support.The public was very interested in Mueller’s investigation because, for over two years, Democrats and their media collaborators assured the country that the president was complicit in a corrupt conspiracy with the Kremlin to undermine the 2016 campaign, hack Democratic email accounts, and steal the election.Once Mueller concluded that there was no “collusion” scheme, however, public interest ebbed. After finally being told that the narrative of a traitorous president in a corrupt pact with a hostile foreign power was just a political narrative, Americans were not inclined to hop aboard the Democrats’ new and improved obstruction narrative.This is not to say the conduct outlined in the obstruction volume of Mueller’s report is admirable. Some of it is disturbing. It is understandable that Democrats would want the public to focus on it. But it does not rise to the level of a prosecutable obstruction case and it did not, in any event, present to the slightest impediment to Mueller’s completion of the investigation — with which the president cooperated extensively, for all his ranting and raving about a “witch hunt.”Equivocal proof of obstruction in an investigation that was not actually impeded, into a crime that did not actually happen, is not going to grab the public’s interest – not after the collusion let down, not after Democrats and the media have convinced the country that their rabid opposition to Trump is transparently political, and not when the country is dealing with other more pressing matters and the 2020 election is looming.America has moved on. Democrats are at the point where continuing to press the Mueller probe hurts them more than it hurts the president.So Chairman Schiff and Democrats on his Intelligence Committee, and on chairman Jerry Nadler’s Judiciary Committee, which will get the first shot at Mueller today, can rattle their sabers and threaten all sorts of sanctions. But they are not going to hold Mueller in contempt, much less impeach the president. They don’t have the public support to follow through, and they know it.Robert Mueller will stick to his report today. Democrats — and Republicans, who have lots of questions about alleged investigative abuses — will not like being stonewalled. But stonewalled they will be.We’re going through the motions. Loudly, sure, but still just going through the motions.



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Is Iran Close to Collapse? Three Things You Need To Know about the U.S.-Iran Showdown.

Is Iran Close to Collapse? Three Things You Need To Know about the U.S.-Iran Showdown.Iran and the United States are as close to direct conflict as they have been for three decades, since Operation Praying Mantis in 1988 which was, at the time, the largest surface naval engagement since World War II.A lot of ink has been spilled and oxygen expended discussing the matter, some of it good and some of it simplistic. Here a few thoughts, informed by being lucky enough to spend close to seven months studying in the Islamic Republic while finishing a doctorate in philosophy on Iranian history. I worked on the Iran desk at the Pentagon during the George W. Bush administration, frequently visit the Persian Gulf, and have followed Iran almost continuously for a quarter century.



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After Kim-Trump summit collapse, North Korean leader holds talks with Vladimir Putin

After Kim-Trump summit collapse, North Korean leader holds talks with Vladimir PutinNorth Korea's Kim Jong Un made his first trip to Russia two months after his second denuclearization summit with President Donald Trump failed.



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Saudis Pledge to Ensure Oil Supply if Iran Exports Collapse

Saudis Pledge to Ensure Oil Supply if Iran Exports CollapseThe Saudis are closely monitoring oil-market developments after the U.S. announcement regarding export sanctions on Iran, Al-Falih said in a statement. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will ensure an “appropriate supply” of oil along with the U.S., as President Donald Trump won’t re-issue Iran oil waivers set to expire in May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters earlier on Monday in Washington. “Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil,” Trump said on Twitter.



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US general warns of IS resurgence as 'caliphate' nears collapse

US general warns of IS resurgence as 'caliphate' nears collapseA top US commander warned Thursday that the battle against the Islamic State group was “far from over” despite the jihadists’ loss of territory, as survivors abandoned the last shred of the group’s collapsing “caliphate” in eastern Syria. A fierce assault by US-backed forces has sparked an exodus of dust-covered children, veiled women dragging suitcases and dishevelled men, many of them wounded, from the village of Baghouz where besieged IS fighters are making a last stand. The Syrian Democratic Forces are waiting for more survivors to leave before dealing what they hope will be a final blow to jihadists holed up in a makeshift camp along the banks of the Euphrates.



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Seoul calls for three-way talks after Trump-Kim collapse

Seoul calls for three-way talks after Trump-Kim collapseSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has proposed semiofficial three-way talks with the United States and North Korea as it struggles to put nuclear diplomacy back on track after the collapse of a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.



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After summit diplomacy collapse, what's Donald Trump's North Korea Plan B?

After summit diplomacy collapse, what's Donald Trump's North Korea Plan B?In the aftermath of the scrapped Hanoi summit, it's time to formulate a new plan for dealing with the strategic challenge posed by the Kim regime.



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