US leaves Afghanistan after 20 years

Good morning.

The last evacuation flight flew out of Kabul airport just before midnight local time in Afghanistan, marking the end of the US’s nearly 20-year occupation of the country.

In total, 2,461 American service members and civilians were killed and more than 20,000 were injured in the country’s longest war, along with nearly 50,000 Afghan civilians and 70,000 Afghan soldiers and police who are estimated to have died in the violence since 2001. This number includes the 13 American service members and 70 Afghans killed after an airport attack by the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).

As the last US military transport aircraft lifted off from Kabul airport, Taliban fighters fired celebratory gunfire through the air and moved quickly to seize the airport. Taliban fighters wearing US army uniforms entered a former US military hangar and inspected US military helicopters, making an inventory of equipment left behind, video shot by a reporter for the LA Times showed.

For more Afghanistan news, follow the liveblog here.

At least two people were killed in the chaos of Hurricane Ida, a 150mph monster storm that was the most powerful ever to hit Louisiana.

The state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, and Joe Biden said they expected the death toll to rise, with scores of coastal Louisiana residents trapped by flood waters and pleading to be rescued.

Two Oregon counties are running out of space to hold bodies amid a surge in Covid-19 cases that is overwhelming the state’s healthcare system. Local hospitals, funeral homes and crematoriums are either “at the edge of crisis capacity daily” or “consistently at or exceeding their capacity” for body storage.

“In the past two weeks, we have had more new positive cases than the first 10 months of the pandemic,” the Tillamook county board of commissioners said.

Thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate the popular tourist town of South Lake Tahoe as the Caldor fire draws closer. Ash rained down as the long lines of cars trying to evacuate gridlocked the roads and brought traffic to a standstill.

The Caldor fire, which broke out on 14 August, has so far burned 277 sq miles and more than 650 structures have been destroyed. At least 20,000 more structures are under threat. Three first responders have been injured in the blaze, along with two civilians.

In a last-ditch effort to stop a near-total abortion ban that allows any individual the right to sue an abortion provider who violates the extreme law, Texas abortion providers are asking the US supreme court to block the unprecedented measure that goes into effect tomorrow.

Signed into law by the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, in May, the law bans abortion once embryonic cardiac activity is detected – typically about six weeks – and offers no exceptions for rape or incest.

Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, is facing a recall election in a few weeks. Those in favor of the recall, however, have only raised $8m, while he has raised nearly eight times that. Newsom’s huge fundraising advantage guarantees absolutely nothing, however, as recalls do not allow the incumbent to face off directly with his opponents.

The new kind of US war is not defined by death, but by control by domination and surveillance. While it centers itself on a near complete immunity from harm for the American side and unprecedented care when it comes to killing people on the other, with fewer captives mistreated and fewer civilians dead than in the past, the US’s military operations have become more expansive in scope and perpetual in time.

US national parks were overrun with visitors this summer, with many forced to close their gates with parking filled up. With these visitors came graffiti, trash and reckless behavior. Park officials are brainstorming ways to manage the crowds and preserve these public lands. One tactic: selfie stations to encourage people to take photos in one place instead of another.

One of the few things that Covid-19 did not shut down in Ireland over the past year and a half was appreciation of the sea. “There’s been a huge explosion in open-water swimming,” says Elaine Mullan, of Waterford Sports Partnership.

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