Hillary Clinton: Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan will have ‘huge consequences’

Hillary Clinton: Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan will have ‘huge consequences’

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Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton attends the premiere of the Hulu documentary "Hillary" in New York on March 4, 2020. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) more >

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By Jessica Chasmar

The Washington Times

Monday, May 3, 2021

Hillary Clinton said Sunday that President Biden should be prepared for “huge consequences” in the Middle East after his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The former secretary of state, who strongly supported the U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 attacks, said the president’s decision to withdraw 2,448 U.S. troops from Afghanistan could lead to a refugee crisis and a massive resurgence in terrorism.

“I know it’s a very difficult decision,” Mrs. Clinton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “This is what we call ‘a wicked problem.’ You know there are consequences, both foreseen and unintended, of staying and of leaving. The president has made the decision to leave. 

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“And I think that our government has to focus on two huge consequences,” she continued. “One, the potential collapse of the Afghan government and a takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, probably with a resumption of civil war in certain parts of the country, but a largely Taliban-run government at some point in the not-too-distant future. 

“How do we help and protect the many, many thousands of Afghans who worked with the United States and NATO, who worked with American and other NATO-connected contractors, who stood up and spoke out for women’s rights and human rights?” she asked. “I hope that the administration, in concert with the Congress, will have a very large visa program and will begin immediately to try to provide that channel for so many Afghans to utilize so that they are not left in danger. There will also be, I fear, a huge refugee outflow.

“And of course, the second big set of problems revolves around a resumption of activities by global terrorist groups, most particularly al Qaeda and the Islamic State,” she added. 

“And so I think these two huge sets of issues have got to be addressed. I mean, it’s one thing to pull out troops that have been, you know, supporting security in Afghanistan, supporting the Afghan military, leaving it pretty much to fend for itself. But we can’t afford to walk away from the consequences of that decision,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton stopped short of saying she opposed the decision.

The Democrat’s comments followed an Axios report that she and Condoleezza Rice, a Republican, both raised concerns about Mr. Biden‘s withdrawal plans during a Zoom call Wednesday with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Both of the former secretaries of state spoke during the call about protecting U.S. diplomats on the ground and the potential consequences a troop withdrawal would mean for the global war on terrorism, Axios reported.

During her interview with CNN, Mrs. Clinton gave Mr. Biden an A grade for his first 100 days in office. 

“He has once again embodied and modeled what a president should act like in the Oval Office, in the White House, in the world at large, with dignity, with purposefulness, with care for what he says and how he treats people,” she said. “I mean, we now have a mature, experienced president, and thank goodness we do.”

France looks to rally aid for Lebanon, but no bailout

France looks to rally aid for Lebanon, but no bailout

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FILE – In this Sept. 27, 2020 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference on the situation in Lebanon. France and the U.N. will host a new conference next week about aid to Beirut after its … more >

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By ZEINA KARAM

Associated Press

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

BEIRUT (AP) – France is hosting an international video conference on humanitarian aid for Lebanon Wednesday, amid political deadlock in Beirut that has blocked billions of dollars in assistance for the cash-strapped country hit by multiple crises.

The meeting, organized by France and the United Nations, is the second since the disastrous Aug. 4 explosion that destroyed Beirut’s port and wrecked large parts of the capital. The blast, which also killed over 200 people and wounded thousands, was caused by the detonation of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrates that had been stored unsafely at a port warehouse for years.

The explosion came amid an unprecedented financial meltdown – worsened by coronavirus closures – that has brought soaring inflation, poverty and unemployment.

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An official with the French presidency, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the conference, said Wednesday’s meeting would take stock of how urgent aid could best be used going forward, rather than offer up new amounts of cash to a country “known for its dysfunctions, to put it mildly.”

In a dire report published Tuesday, the World Bank said Lebanon’s economy faces an “arduous and prolonged depression,” with real GPD projected to plunge by nearly 20% because its politicians refuse to implement reforms that would speed up the country’s recovery.

President Emmanuel Macron, whose country once governed Lebanon as a protectorate, has vowed to push ahead with aid efforts despite frustration with its ruling class. Lebanon’s leaders continue to resist reforms and have been unable to form a government after the last one resigned in the wake of the explosion.

The French official said representatives from 27 countries would take part, including 12 heads of state, but that local Lebanese aid groups would have a central role as trusted partners.

A new government would be the first step toward implementing a French roadmap for reforms to enable the release of billions of dollars of international aid. Another key international demand is a Central Bank audit. U.S. consultancy firm Alvarez & Marsal withdrew last month from a forensic audit it was tasked with, saying it had not received the information required to carry out its work.

The Aug. 4 explosion, widely blamed on the negligence of Lebanese politicians and security agencies, has brought world attention to the corruption that has plagued the country for decades and left it on the brink of bankruptcy with hollowed out institutions.

World leaders and international organizations pledged nearly $300 million in emergency humanitarian aid after the blast but warned that no money for rebuilding the capital will be made available until Lebanese authorities commit themselves to serious political and economic reforms.

The donors pledged the aid will be coordinated by the U.N. and delivered directly to the Lebanese people, in a clear rebuke of the country’s entrenched and notoriously corrupt leaders.

“We have the same parliament, we have the same political leaders,” the French official said. “Fortunately, we note that civil society has organized, which is taking up position and compensating for the deficiencies of the state and public services.”

The aid money is expected to go directly to NGOs and other organizations to distribute to the public, bypassing the Lebanese government.

___

Associated Press writer Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed.

WHO says it needs $31.3 billion over the next year for COVID-19 fight

WHO says it needs $31.3 billion over the next year for COVID-19 fight

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In this March 14, 2019, file photo Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP) ** FILE ** more >

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By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Friday, June 26, 2020

The World Health Organization needs $31.3 billion over the next year to develop and distribute tests and treatments in its fight against COVID-19, the agency said Friday.

The United Nations-backed organization has received $3.4 billion to date and said that of the nearly $28 billion it seeks, $13.7 billion is “urgently needed.”

The call comes just one day after Germany announced a record contribution of more than $500 million to the WHO, and France pledged $140 million across two WHO research centers.

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The backing marked a stark contrast to a recent move by President Trump, who threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently cut off all funding to the group after lodging a series of complaints that the agency mishandled the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has long been the organization’s largest funder.

The announcement quickly saw pushback from European allies, who urged Mr. Trump to reconsider the withdrawal.

The WHO says the substantial uptick in necessary funds will go toward distributing 500 million tests and 245 million treatments to low and middle-income countries by this time next year, Reuters reported.

It also seeks to deliver 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

More than 9.6 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been reported around the world. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, nearly 490,000 have died from the virus, and 4.8 million have recovered. The global population stands at 7.8 billion.

Russia opens polls for vote on extending Putin’s rule

Russia opens polls for vote on extending Putin’s rule

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In this file photo taken on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, watches the Victory Day military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in Moscow. Russian authorities seem to be pulling out all the … more >

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By

Associated Press

Thursday, June 25, 2020

MOSCOW (AP) — Polls opened in Russia on Thursday for a weeklong vote on constitutional changes that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

The vote on a slew of constitutional amendments, proposed by Putin in January, was initially scheduled for April 22, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was later rescheduled for July 1, with polling stations opening a week earlier and staying open for seven days in an effort to avoid crowds on the main voting day.

The proposed amendments include a change in the constitution that would allow the 67-year-old Putin, who has ruled Russia for over two decades, to run for two more six-year terms after his current one expires in 2024. Other amendments talk about improving social benefits, define marriage as a union of a man and and a woman and redistribute executive powers within the government, strengthening the presidency.

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The changes have already been approved by both houses of parliament, the country’s Constitutional Court and were signed into law by Putin. He insisted that they be put to a vote, even though it is not legally required, in what many see as an effort to put a veneer of democracy on the controversial changes.

Holding the vote in the middle of a pandemic has elicited public health concerns, because Russia is still reporting over 7,000 new virus cases daily and has 606,000 confirmed infections in all, the third-worst caseload in the world.

The Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed these concerns, saying that Russia was able to slow down the epidemic and assuring people that all necessary measures have been to ensure the safety of the voters.

Lancet, renowned medical journal, backtracks on celebrated anti-hydroxychloroquine paper

Lancet, renowned medical journal, backtracks on celebrated anti-hydroxychloroquine paper

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FILE – In this April 6, 2020 file photo, a pharmacist holds a bottle of the drug hydroxychloroquine in Oakland, Calif. Results published Wednesday, June 3, 2020, by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better … more >

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By Rowan Scarborough

The Washington Times

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The editors of Lancet, a London-based journal renowned for accurate medical research, are disclosing “serious scientific questions” about a paper they published May 22 knocking the use of the Trump-endorsed hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

The now-disputed research paper relied on the examination of hospital files for nearly 100,000 patients to conclude that the drug, in combination an antibiotic, is ineffective and can cause heart problems. Over 14,000 patients were given the drug, with or without, an antibiotic in 671 hospitals on six continents from December to April.

Over 100 scientists quickly challenged the study’s methods, writing to Lancet that in some cases medical records did not match the actual patient.

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President Trump has championed hydroxychloroquine, bringing with it intense criticism from the liberal media––and a Fox News anchor–– who painted the anti-malaria drug as dangerous. Mr. Trump disclosed he took a regimen of the drug as a preventative for the coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.

A number of U.S. physicians have come forward to say they have seen success in the prescribing hydroxychloroquine to COVID patients. Backers say hydroxychloroquine has been used safely for 60 years to prevent and treat malaria by blocking parasites from invading red blood cells. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been proven effective in treating Lupus and some skin diseases.

The Food and Drug Administration is one of many agencies and institutes conducting clinical trials.

The May 22 Lancet article contained this conclusion:

“We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with

a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19. Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.”

The report gained widespread news media coverage. Often missed was the study’s warning:

“A cause-and-effect relationship between drug therapy and survival should not be inferred. These data do not apply to the use of any treatment regimen used in the ambulatory, out-of-hospital setting. Randomized clinical trials will be required before any conclusion can be reached regarding benefit or harm of these agents in COVID-19 patients.”

The Lancet editor’s back-track posted on Wednesday said that “important scientific questions have been raised about data in the paper ….. We are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information.”

The article carried the bylines of four scientists at medical centers in the U.S. Data was analyzed by the firm Surgisphere in Chicago.

A French clinic in southern France has conducted trials that show hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19.

India, Australia sign defense, trade deals to bolster ties

India, Australia sign defense, trade deals to bolster ties

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In this handout photo provided by the Press Information Bureau, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a virtual meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, June 4, 2020. India and Australia upgraded their relationship … more >

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By SHEIKH SAALIQ

Associated Press

Thursday, June 4, 2020

NEW DELHI (AP) – India and Australia upgraded their relationship with a raft of agreements Thursday, including strengthening defense ties and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific maritime issues.

The agreements were signed during a virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison.

The mutual logistic support agreement gives the two countries access to each other’s military bases. India and Australia see defense as a key pillar of the bilateral engagement and have recently conducted several military exercises.

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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in a statement said a maritime declaration with India marks “a major step forward in the security and defense relationship as part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” between the countries.

“With Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between India and Australia, we aspire to achieve new heights in our collaboration,” Modi said at the virtual summit.

Morrison said that stepping up the relationship would build trust further between them.

The two countries also signed agreements on cyber technology and trade.

“The trade and investment flows between our countries are not where you and I would both like them to be, but they are growing,” Morrison said.

The meeting comes at a time when both countries are in an uneasy relationship with China.

India accuses China of starting the latest standoff along their undefined border in the Himalayas, where Indian officials said Chinese soldiers ignored repeated verbal warning to leave the Indian-controlled territory of Ladakh.

China and Australia are at loggerheads over trade, China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, and most recently, Australia’s push for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s responses to it.

___ Associated Press writer Rob McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.