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U.S. Leaves Largest Afghan Base as Full Withdrawal Nears

With little fanfare, Bagram Air Base was handed over to the Afghan government, ending nearly two decades in which the Americans waged war from there.

KABUL, Afghanistan—American troops and their Western allies have departed Bagram, Afghanistan’s largest air base, officials said on Friday, turning over to the Afghan government the sprawling outpost from which the United States waged war for nearly two decades.

With little fanfare and no public ceremony, American troops left the base on Thursday night, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

The Afghan military “will protect the base and use it to combat terrorism,” said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense.

The closure of Bagram, a symbol of America’s costly operations in Afghanistan, comes just weeks before the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops, who entered the country in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The U.S. will leave a contingent of 650 troops to protect the United States Embassy in Kabul, the capital.

The departure comes at a perilous time for Afghanistan.

Some U.S. intelligence estimates predict that the Afghan government could fall to its rivals, the Taliban, in as little as six months after the Americans complete their withdrawal. The Taliban are inching closer to Kabul after having taken about a quarter of the country’s districts in the last two months.

Hundreds if not thousands of members of the Afghan security forces have surrendered in recent weeks, while their counterattacks have taken back little territory from the Taliban. And as the Afghan forces fracture, regional militias have appeared with renewed prominence, in an echo of the 1990s civil war.

“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized,” the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, told reporters on Tuesday. Though the last 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan could be seen as civil war, a return to the fractious era of warlords and armed fiefdoms has long been feared.

With a line of snow-capped mountains as its backdrop, the Bagram airfield was built in the 1950s by the Soviet Union. It became a vital military hub during the Soviets’ 10-year occupation of Afghanistan. After the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the Taliban and what was known as the Northern Alliance fought for the base, sometimes with their trenches at either end.

By 2001, the United States had inherited rubble at the Bagram site. In January 2002, when the first American service member killed by enemy fire, Sgt. 1st Class Nathan R. Chapman, was sent home, there were no American flags to drape on his casket, so a flag patch from someone’s uniform had to suffice.

By 2011, at the height of the American war, the base had ballooned into a small city, with two runaways, tens of thousands of occupants, shops and a U.S. military prison that became notorious for its use as a C.I.A. black site.

Author: Thomas Gibbons-Neff
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

Costa rica volcano eruption: Outburst could be ‘the largest since the 1990s’

The Rincon de la Vieja volcano, in the northwestern region of the country, burst into a huge column of smoke on Monday. The volcano is located in a national park in Guanacaste province some 200 kilometres from the capital, San Jose.

The outburst began in the early hours and lasted for nearly three minutes.

The thick smoke column was almost two kilometres (1.2 miles) high.

Ash from the column poured across the surrounding region but there were no casualties from it.

Local residents were not immediately evacuated.

Maarten de Moor, a specialist at the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica, said it was “a pretty energetic eruption”.

The volcano has frequent eruptions, with 1,400 registered last year.

However, Mr de Moor pointed out that Monday’s eruption “could be the largest since the 1990s.”

The National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Management was analysing the situation.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

China ‘will never tolerate’ foreign intervention in Taiwan amid largest PLA incursion

When asked whether recent military activity was related to the comments made during the G7 summit, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, blamed Taiwan’s government for the tensions.

He said: “We will never tolerate attempts to seek independence or wanton intervention in the Taiwan issue by foreign forces, so we need to make a strong response to these acts of collusion.”

World leaders came together over the weekend for the G7 summit in Cornwall, during which the premiers urged China to “respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” in relation to the Uyghur Muslim minority group and Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

Within two days of the latest summit, at least 28 warplanes, including nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the largest incursion to date.

According to Taipei, 14 J-16, six J-11 fighters and four nuclear capable H-6 bombers were used in the Chinese mission.

Taiwan also reported several other warplanes ranging from anti-submarine, electronic warfare and early warning aircraft.

The fly-by also occurred on the same day the USS Ronald Reagan and its corresponding carrier group entered the South China Sea.

Lieutenant Commander Joe Keiley, a spokesperson from the carrier group reported there was no interaction with any Chinese military aircraft.

READ MORE: Russia forces Nato fighter jets into action as Putin takes on Biden

Responding to the NATO comments on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Chinese Mission to the European Union accused the military alliance of slander and called on NATO to be more rational.

The Chinese spokesperson said: “We will follow very closely NATO’s strategic adjustment and its policy adjustment towards China.

“China will not present ‘systemic challenges’ to anyone, but we will not sit by and do nothing if ‘systemic challenges’ come closer to us.”

They also urged the military alliance to stop “hyping up in any forum the so-called ‘China threat’.”

China’s total military expenditure is around £148.4bn but is a fraction of the total sum of NATO’s allies which comes to around £795.3bn.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

This Australian behemoth is officially the largest dinosaur on the continent

After 15 years of analysis, scientists have finally confirmed the discovery of Australia’s largest known dinosaur species. 

The first remnants of Australotitan cooperensis were found in 2006 near Eromanga in southwest Queensland, Australia, by Robyn Mackenzie, a paleontologist at the Eromanga Natural History museum, on her own property. She and her husband nicknamed the then-unknown dinosaur “Cooper,” after Cooper Creek near the discovery site. They then called in collaborators to complete the excavation. 

The team unearthed thousands of pounds of bones.

But just digging up the fossils wasn’t enough. The real investigation came after. Based on the bones they collected, the team suspected that this dino was a sauropod, a type of dinosaur previously found in the area (well known sauropods include the brontosaur and the brachiosaurus). But in order to identify just what species Cooper was, scientists needed to methodically compare their found bones to those of previously described species. 

“It’s taken this long because it’s such a painstaking piece of work, you’ve got to take the bones out of the ground, you’ve got to prepare the fossils, and then you’ve got to study them and compare them against all other species of dinosaurs worldwide,” Queensland Museum palaeontologist and co-author of the study Scott Hocknull told Australia’s ABC News.

Rather than cart cumbersome loads of fossils around the world, the team turned to 3D scanning technology for analysis. “[It] allowed us to virtually carry thousands of kilograms of dinosaur bones in one seven kilogram laptop,” Hocknull wrote in The Conversation

Not only did the researchers find that Cooper was not a member of any previously described species, they also officially deemed the Australotitan dinosaur, or the “southern titan,” to be the largest known dinosaur to ever roam the outback. It likely weighed somewhere between 25 and 81 tons. At about 80 to 100 feet long and 16 to 21 feet tall at its hip, Australotitan is also within the top 10 to 15 largest dinosaurs in the world. For comparison, the Tyrannosaurus rex was only about 40 feet long and 12 feet tall. 

With those stats, Cooper joins the ranks of the titanosaurs, a group of mega-beasts previously only discovered in South America. It lived between 92 million to 96 million years ago. The findings were published in the journal PeerJ
Mackenzie told ABC News that Australotitan was just “the tip of the iceberg” and that there are plenty of Australian sites brimming with potential for more fossil excavations. Australotitan was a plant eater, Hocknull noted, “so what was marauding around trying to eat these guys? We don’t have any evidence of that just yet.” Each discovery will help complete the story of Australia’s ancient past.

Author: Monroe Hammond
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Lost engagement ring found at bottom of England’s largest lake by freediver

Lost engagement ring found at bottom of England

LAKE WINDERMERE, England — Forget finding a needle in a haystack, how about finding an engagement ring at the bottom of England’s largest lake?

Freediver Angus Hosking answered the call when couple Rebecca Chaukria and Viki Patel lost their diamond ring off the end of a jetty on Lake Windermere, in the Lake District, northwest England, just two days after getting engaged.

The couple were having photographs taken when the ring slipped off Chaukria’s finger on Monday. The couple initially tried to use the photographer’s tripod to reach the ring but it only pushed it further into the mud at the bottom of the lake, Hosking told CNN in a phone call on Saturday.

Patel told CNN he panicked when the ring fell in and tried to rescue it himself but the water was “absolutely freezing” and he couldn’t see a thing.

Hosking heard about the couple’s plight via a friend and rushed down to the jetty as soon as he finished work. The 21-year-old had been helping to clear trash from the Lakes for three and a half years and set up the group Lake District Diving with his friend Declan Turner to tackle the problem.

It’s not the first time he has been asked to rescue valuables in the process, and he told CNN he knew only too well that it could take minutes or hours.

“As soon as I put my head under the water the visibility was absolutely terrible so it didn’t fill me with confidence. I couldn’t see anything,” Hosking explained.

“It was just all silt — really fine mud — even if you drop a penny it goes straight to the bottom,” he added.

Fortunately after 20 minutes searching with an underwater metal detector and a few false positives, Hosking scooped up the ring.

Patel described Hosking as a “brilliant guy” and said his fiancee was “speechless” when he emerged with the ring. “Now she’s never taking it off,” he joked.

Hosking said Patel “couldn’t stop saying ‘thank you.’ He just kept on saying it, it was brilliant.”

Patel had planned to propose on five different occasions — but they had all been scuppered by coronavirus restrictions.

Patel said if restrictions allow he would love to invite Hosking to their wedding in August.

Author: CNNWire

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

How to live longer: Make breakfast your largest meal of the day to boost longevity – why?

Good sources of protein include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.

Regular exercise is also integral to weight loss and overall health.

UK health guidelines advise that adults do some type of physical activity every day – any type of activity is good for you.

For optimal results, you should combine moderate activity with muscle strengthening.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
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Navajo Nation Becomes Largest Tribe in U.S. After Enrollment Surge

ALBUQUERQUE — The Navajo Nation already had its own police academy, universities, bar association and court system, plus a new Washington office near the embassies of other sovereign nations. And during the coronavirus pandemic the Diné, as many prefer to call themselves, gained an important distinction: the most populous tribal nation in the United States.

A rush to secure federal hardship benefits increased the Navajo Nation’s official enrollment to 399,494 from 306,268 last year, according to the Navajo Office of Vital Records and Identification. That jump was enough for the Diné to eclipse the Cherokee Nation, which has an enrollment of about 392,000.

The tribe’s growth, which came while it was enduring some of the nation’s most harrowing virus outbreaks, could affect the disbursement of future federal aid as well as political representation in the Southwest. The Navajo Nation reservation, which is larger than West Virginia, spreads over about 27,000 square miles of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

“This is the brighter side to a really bad time in the pandemic when we watched so many people go,” said Traci Morris, executive director of Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy Institute.

Dr. Morris, a member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, said that while several tribes saw their enrollment increase during the pandemic, the 30 percent spike in the Navajo Nation was particularly notable. The Cherokee Nation, which normally sees about 1,200 applications for enrollment each month, has seen an increase to about 1,400 a month since the middle of last year, said a spokeswoman for the tribe.

Official tribal enrollment can often be lower than a tribe’s actual population because of factors including migration from reservations to urban areas and the different policies that the 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States have for determining membership. Some tribes, like the Diné, have relatively more stringent requirements than others that have loosened such rules.

Over the past year, thousands of Diné scrambled to update their enrollment information or to enroll officially for the first time to receive payments the tribe was directly distributing from its share of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Those payments of up to about $ 1,350 per adult helped many Diné weather a protracted period of economic instability while Navajo leaders put into place some of the country’s most aggressive virus mitigation tactics, including curfews and checkpoints.

The Navajo Nation has also outpaced much of the rest of the country in vaccinating its population; nearly 90 percent of those on the reservation who are eligible have received at least one shot.

At the same time, at least 1,297 citizens of the Navajo Nation have died from the virus. Residents have been particularly vulnerable because of a high prevalence of diseases like diabetes, the scarcity of running water for washing hands, and homes with several generations living under the same roof.

Although Navajo enrollment numbers climbed during the health crisis, some experts think the official statistics undercount the actual Diné population. The Census Bureau has not announced how large it considers the Navajo Nation based on data collected during the 2020 census.

Wendy Greyeyes, an assistant professor of Native American studies at the University of New Mexico, noted that most Diné live off the reservation, away from the offices that keep up with enrollment figures, and that the Navajo Nation maintains stricter citizenship requirements than many other tribes.

The Navajo Nation requires members to be at least one-quarter Diné, in contrast to tribes like the Cherokee that forgo a specific blood quantum requirement in favor of largely basing citizenship on having Cherokee ancestry.

“Living in Albuquerque, I’ve met so many members who don’t qualify for the minimum enrollment, or they may be enrolled in another tribe and cannot double enroll,” said Dr. Greyeyes, who is from Kayenta, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation reservation.

Dr. Greyeyes, who assisted people wanting to enroll in the tribe in recent months, also emphasized that the process can be bureaucratically complicated, potentially keeping some Diné from becoming citizens.

“It’s not an easy process,” Dr. Greyeyes said. “How do you prove your blood descent? You need to get the paperwork for your parents, the paperwork for everybody.”

As the tribe has been growing, so has its political power. Diné politicians have recently made inroads in local races in places like southern Utah, and voter turnout in the Navajo Nation, which leans Democratic, is credited with helping President Biden win Arizona in 2020.

The Navajo Nation’s population growth is also a sign that efforts to strengthen self-determination among tribal nations are gaining momentum, building on a shift that got underway more than five decades ago under the Nixon administration. Previously, in the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government had adopted a policy of dismantling tribal sovereignty and encouraged thousands of Native Americans to leave reservations for American cities.

Eric Henson, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and a research fellow with the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, said the Navajo Nation’s growing enrollment stood in sharp contrast to federal policies during the 20th century that were “literally an attempt to get rid of all the tribes.”

Mr. Henson said of the surging Diné numbers, “This is a really obvious way of saying, ‘Hey, we’re still here.’”

Author: Simon Romero
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Plastic Surgeons Had Top Pay and Largest Bump in Pandemic

One third of plastic surgeons saw their income decline over the last year, but the specialty overall earned the most among the 29 specialties in this year’s compensation survey.

Plastic surgeons also had the largest gain in pay from last year — almost 10% — among all specialties. Otolaryngology and allergy/immunology were at the other end of the scale with a loss in compensation of 9%.

Average income for plastic surgeons rose from $ 479,000 to $ 526,000, according to the Medscape Plastic Surgeon Compensation Report 2021, a sum more than twice as much as the six lowest-earning specialties in the list.

Plastic surgeons took the top spot from orthopedists, who made $ 511,000 this year, unchanged from the prior year.

Several Reasons for the Rise

The specialty benefited from several factors in the pandemic, academic plastic surgeon Chris Reid, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of California San Diego, told Medscape Medical News.

Among them was that people were much more likely to be working from home — and even when they weren’t home they were wearing masks so they could hide the signs of cosmetic surgeries without taking time off work, he said.

“People freed themselves up to do things in the pandemic,” he said.

Many also had more disposable income as activities were restricted, he said.

Reid said his own reconstructive practice had “the most productive year ever last year.”

Since more operating rooms were freed up from lack of elective surgeries, he said, he was able to do more reconstructive surgeries such as breast reconstructions after mastectomy.

“If you let me, I would operate all the time. But I don’t have unlimited access to the operating room,” he said.

Also, because plastic surgeons often own their own surgery centers, many did not operate under the same limitations hospitals had for pausing elective surgeries, Reid said.

“A lot of plastic surgeons just kept operating when no one else was,” he said.

People seeing their own image on screens with the boom in video calls may have played a part as well, according to a report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Medscape previously reported that with filters and apps for enhancing selfies, people can get a taste of changing their appearance, which can lead to more acceptance of plastic surgery.

All of the plastic surgeons in the survey who said their income declined said COVID-19 was a factor whether because of job loss, fewer patients, or fewer hours. Respondents could pick more than one answer; 12% listed other non-COVID drivers of the decline.

Of those whose income dropped, about half (51%) said they expected compensation would return to pre-pandemic levels in a year; 30% said that it would take 2-3 years; and 8% said they would never return to pre-pandemic levels.

Other specialties had much less lucrative years.

Pediatrics again this year had the lowest compensation at $ 221,000, followed by family medicine ($ 236,000) and public health and preventive medicine ($ 237,000).

Plastic Surgeons Have Lower Paperwork Demands

Plastic surgeons were near the bottom in administrative demands. They spent 12.7 hours per week on administrative tasks, down from last year’s 14.2 hours per week. That included time entering information in electronic health records, clinical reading, participation in professional organizations, and managerial work.

By contrast, infectious disease physicians spent nearly twice that time (24.2 hours a week) on administrative tasks.

Plastic surgeons are seeing fewer patients per week, down about 8% from 63 to 58 per week. That was a far smaller drop than many specialties saw. For instance, pediatricians saw the largest drop (18%) followed by dermatologists, otolaryngologists, and orthopedists, all down about 15%. The drop in patients is commonly attributed to having more safety protocols and answering more questions about COVID-19.

Overall, physician hours dropped for at least some part of the pandemic and many were furloughed. But most, including plastic surgeons now averaging 53-hour weeks, are back to their pre-pandemic hours.

Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Science News and Nurse.com and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn

Author:
This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Lubbock votes to become the state’s largest “sanctuary city for the unborn”

Josh Upchurch, Shelby Martin and Hailee Roberts campaign for Proposition A at the corner of Quaker Ave. and 82nd Street on S…

Josh Upchurch, Shelby Martin and Hailee Roberts campaign for Proposition A at the corner of Quaker Ave. and 82nd Street on S…

Paul Stell calls people forward before announcing Proposition A passed during a watch party in Trinity Church on Saturday, M…

Paul Stell calls people forward before announcing Proposition A passed during a watch party in Trinity Church on Saturday, M…

Sofia Bell talks with a potential voter about voting against Proposition A on the Texas Tech University campus on May 1, 202…

Sofia Bell talks with a potential voter about voting against Proposition A on the Texas Tech University campus on May 1, 202…

Author: Shannon Najmabadi
This post originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed

Oil to hit $80 on largest ever demand jump – Goldman Sachs

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Goldman Sachs expects global oil demand to realize the biggest jump ever over the next six months, the investment bank said on Wednesday, keeping its bullish forecasts for oil prices this summer.

Higher demand for travel and acceleration of vaccinations in Europe are set to result in “the biggest jump in oil demand ever, a 5.2 million barrels per day (bpd) rise over the next six months,” Reuters quoted Goldman Sachs as saying in a note to clients.

Goldman Sachs continues to see oil rising to $ 80 per barrel this summer and says that “The magnitude of the coming change in the volume of demand – a change which supply cannot match – must not be understated,” as carried by FXStreet.

Also on rt.com Saudi Arabia may sell 1% of Aramco to a ‘leading global energy company’ – crown prince

At the beginning of this month, Goldman also issued a bullish note, saying that it anticipated strong demand that would require OPEC+ putting another 2 million barrels per day (bpd) on the market in the third quarter, after the around 2 million bpd that the alliance and Saudi Arabia decided to return between May and July.

In early April, the investment bank expected excess oil inventories to normalize by the fall of 2021.

At the end of April, Goldman Sachs continues to forecast a large demand rebound this year, despite the soaring COVID cases in India, which have somewhat clouded the demand outlook.

Also on rt.com Oil rises on expectations that OPEC+ may reconsider output policy

“Commodity markets have looked through the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in India,” Goldman Sachs said today.

At the beginning of March, the bank expected Brent Crude prices to hit $ 80 a barrel in the third quarter this year, up by $ 5 compared to the previous forecast issued two weeks earlier.

Even after the sell-off in oil in mid-March, Goldman said that the “big breather” was a buying opportunity for oil and continued to forecast Brent hitting $ 80 per barrel in the summer.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com