KABUL, Afghanistan — Mortar shells slammed right into a residential space of Afghanistan’s capital and killed eight individuals Saturday, hours earlier than outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held what are possible his final conferences with the Taliban and Afghan authorities negotiators attempting to hammer out a peace deal.
The assault in Kabul, claimed by Islamic State militants, additionally wounded 31 individuals.
The assault got here as peace talks had been underway in Qatar, the place Pompeo advised Afghan authorities negotiators that the U.S. will “sit on the aspect and assist the place we will” within the negotiations with Taliban militants. In the meantime, the U.S. army introduced a sudden go to to the Mideast by long-range, nuclear-capable B-52H bombers, underlining America’s persevering with presence within the area.
Two Taliban officers advised The Related Press that the warring sides have discovered frequent floor on which to maneuver ahead the stalled talks. The officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they don’t seem to be approved to talk to journalists, didn’t elaborate.
In Kabul, at the least one of many 23 mortar rounds hit contained in the Iranian Embassy compound. Nobody was wounded, but it surely broken the primary constructing, the embassy mentioned. At the least 31 individuals had been harm elsewhere within the metropolis, in line with the Inside Ministry.
The native Islamic State affiliate issued a press release claiming the assault that focused the so-called Inexperienced Zone in Kabul, which homes overseas embassies, the presidential palace and Afghan army compounds, in line with SITE Intelligence Group.
In Doha, Pompeo met with the co-founder of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who signed the peace settlement with Washington in February forward of the so-called intra-Afghan talks. Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem tweeted that additional prisoner releases had been mentioned within the assembly, along with those who the 2 sides dedicated to forward of peace talks below the U.S. deal.
Naeem mentioned the Taliban additionally repeated their demand that their leaders be faraway from the United Nations sanctions record.
For many Afghans, the overriding concern has been a pointy rise in violence this yr and a surge of assaults by the Taliban in opposition to Afghanistan’s beleaguered safety forces because the begin of peace talks in September.
The announcement this week that the USA will speed up its deliberate troop withdrawal has lent higher urgency to the intra-Afghan negotiations and to the requires a discount in violence. Washington introduced it might withdraw one other estimated 2,500 troops earlier than the center of January, leaving about 2,000 troopers in Afghanistan as a part of America’s longest battle.
The Taliban have, nonetheless, held to their promise to not assault U.S. and NATO troops. The U.S., alongside coalition forces, invaded Afghanistan in 2001 within the wake of al-Qaida’s Sept. 11 assaults, masterminded by Osama bin Laden, then a visitor of the Taliban authorities.
The US has been urgent in current weeks for a discount in violence, whereas the Afghan authorities has been demanding a cease-fire. The Taliban have refused, saying a cease-fire shall be a part of negotiations.
There are numerous inside the Afghan authorities who need February’s peace deal scrapped. President-elect Joe Biden has beforehand advocated a small, intelligence-based pressure in Afghanistan to concentrate on counterterrorism.
The arrival of the long-range B-52H bombers underscored America’s skill to proceed to strike inside Afghanistan and the broader Center East. The bombers from North Dakota’s Minot Air Pressure Base got here as a part of what the U.S. army’s Central Command described as “a short-notice, long-range mission into the Center East” to “deter aggression and reassure U.S. companions and allies.”
Tensions additionally stay excessive between the U.S. and Iran within the waning days of the Trump administration.
Abdullah Abdullah, the pinnacle of the federal government’s Excessive Council for Reconciliation, individually condemned the Kabul assault in a tweet, calling it a “cowardly” act. The council oversees the federal government’s crew negotiating with the Taliban in Doha.
Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Kabul on Tuesday for the primary time since he got here to workplace, condemned the assault and warned “it is very important be vigilant in opposition to the spoilers who’re working to undermine the peace efforts.” He didn’t establish the spoilers.
Hours earlier than the assault rattled Kabul, a bomb connected to a automobile killed one member of the Afghan safety forces and wounded three others in an japanese neighborhood of the capital, police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz mentioned.
Unqualified au pairs are slipping via the cracks amid COVID-19
Troublemakers are out and about because the pandemic has plunged the au pair business into chaos.
In June, the Trump administration signed a brief ban till a minimum of Dec. 31 on the au pair visa program — which guarantees inexpensive little one care in alternate for room, board and a modest stipend for host households — due to COVID-19 job issues. In consequence, there’s a scarcity of certified, authorized, international au pairs.
“This system has been paused precisely on the time when American households are struggling to remain at work with many colleges and day cares closed,” Michael McHugh, senior vp at New York-based Au Pair USA for host households, informed The Publish.
From a peak of 20,000 final yr, in response to US State Division information, the variety of obtainable
au pairs now in America has sharply declined. One placement company not too long ago confessed to a New York household that its provide was down from a whole bunch of au pairs to 5. And among the many au pairs who had been already within the US when the ban got here down are some who aren’t minimize out for the job.
Final month, Mattress-Stuy residents Lauren and Mark filed a grievance with the Higher Enterprise Bureau in opposition to AuPairCare, the San Francisco-based company they contracted to supply an au pair for his or her son, who was born in April.
“She confided to us she had no expertise caring for newborns, opposite to what the company assured us,” Mark informed The Publish of the 20-something from Brazil who joined his family in July. (She first got here to the US on an au pair work visa final November.)
He mentioned the girl additionally appeared to have little curiosity in working as a baby carer — regardless of the very fact her visa, which continues to be doubtlessly renewable, is conditional on her working as an au pair.
“[She] requested us if she might get a [side] job as a bartender as a result of she is aware of of locations that ‘rent illegals for a lot of these jobs,’ ” wrote Mark in his grievance. “You possibly can think about the priority that came to visit us as we heard that our au pair needed to work inside a bar illegally throughout COVID, and doubtlessly placing our well being in danger.”
The household needed to let the au pair go after solely three weeks, as their nervousness grew about her credentials and loyalty.
“AuPairCare didn’t do its due diligence,” Mark added in his grievance, “when it matched us with an au pair who by no means deliberate on being an au pair, however was solely utilizing the visa to get into [the US].”
The couple are in search of a full refund of the almost $4,000 they paid AuPairCare, as a substitute of the partial refund and credit score provided. “Nobody [at Au PairCare] has returned a name or an e-mail,” Mark mentioned.
In an announcement to The Publish, AuPairCare mentioned that as a result of it “values the privateness of all our members, we’re unable to deal with your particular inquiry. Our prime priorities stay the well being, security, and well-being of each our au pairs and host households.”
Mark, who works in public relations, realizes he isn’t the one mother or father stressed by a defiant caretaker. “[Our former au pair] mentioned quite a lot of au pairs will not be following COVID-19 guidelines,” he informed The Publish.
One Morningside Heights mother or father, who wished to stay nameless, concurred.
“Our au pair didn’t appear to grasp how harmful COVID was,” the daddy informed The Publish. “This frightened us as a result of she would go away the home for hours, was gone the entire day on weekends. We didn’t know who she was seeing. So we ended up not renewing the au pair after her settlement was up in Could.”
“Our au pair needed to work inside a bar illegally throughout COVID.”
– Brooklyn dad, Mark
Vanessa Gordon, a Hamptons resident and mom of two younger kids, mentioned she’s shocked by a change she’s now seeing within the demeanor of au pairs.
“It’s simply so unimaginable how these au pairs barely take note of the youngsters — they allow them to go to the toilet in the course of the playground, although there’s a public restroom 100 ft away.
A lot of the au pairs are on their cellphones 90 % of the time,” Gordon, who publishes East Finish Style Journal, informed The Publish.
She chalks it as much as there being fewer au pairs obtainable within the US. “Companies are letting the issue instances — au pairs who don’t have any curiosity or expertise in doing the job — slip via the cracks to fulfill excessive parental demand, with households sucking it up as a result of they typically don’t have any different alternative.”
Mark and Lauren have now employed a neighborhood nanny who lives together with her family in Brooklyn. “[My friends and I] can’t take our kids to day care facilities — they’re not protected and never even open,” he mentioned. However “there’s no approach on the planet we’d ever rent an au pair once more.”
Megan Fox, Mindy Kaling hit by alleged Ponzi-scheming PR exec: lawsuit
An alleged Ponzi-scheming public relations exec apparently ensnared actors Megan Fox and Mindy Kaling in his net of deceit, claims a Manhattan agency which says it was duped out of $2.5 million within the con.
Hotshot advertising and marketing guru Andrew Garson, who in July 2018 was named to the “Prime 40 below 40” checklist by PR Week Journal, was indicted on wire fraud prices final yr for allegedly conning his bosses at MWW Group to pay money owed he owed distributors at a earlier firm, in line with courtroom papers.
However Garson’s cash machinations at MWW went even additional, the corporate prices in a $10 million Manhattan Supreme Court docket lawsuit.
The Lengthy Island man allegedly created budgets for “fictitious” advertising and marketing campaigns, and incurred debt to expertise like Fox and Kaling on tasks or budgets MWW hadn’t authorized.
The rip-off left MWW fielding lawsuits and calls for for cost the corporate knew nothing about, together with $450,000 from Fox, in line with courtroom papers.
In some circumstances, Garson is accused of creating agreements on behalf of MWW that exceeded budgets the corporate had set, leaving the agency holding the bag for the overage, together with $1.75 million to Kaling, who in 2018 starred in an MWW advert marketing campaign for Barefoot Wine, the corporate claims.
Garson additionally misappropriated monies engaged on tasks for varied promoting shoppers, together with $58,000 from Jack within the Field, $125,000 with Purple Lobster and $270,000 from Cox Automotive, MWW prices.
The felony prices in opposition to Garson are pending.
Kamala Harris outlets, promotes small companies at vacation market
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris hit up a Washington, DC outside vacation market Saturday — and located herself the right stocking stuffer.
With husband Doug Emhoff at her aspect, a laughing Harris hoisted her discovery: a lightweight blue T-shirt emblazoned with the phrases “Madam Vice President.”
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted a photograph of the second, alongside together with her thanks for Harris’s help of the annual “Small Enterprise Saturday.”
Harris and Emhoff spent 25 minutes strolling by the cubicles close to Gallery Place within the district’s downtown, native information station WTOP reported, selecting up puzzles, an ornamental print of varied cheeses — and, finally, Harris’s chosen tee.
Afterward, Harris took lower than one minute’s value of questions from reporters.
She stated that she and President-elect Joe Biden are making ready for his or her transition by “specializing in the specialists.”
“We’ve been assembly with everybody from labor leaders to heads of Fortune 500 corporations,” she stated. She and Biden will obtain their first labeled intelligence briefings Monday.
However she barely entertained a second question, about whether or not she and Biden could be prepared for a attainable rematch with President Trump in 2024.
“Please,” she stated, elevating a dismissive hand earlier than breaking into giggles and strolling away.