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Airline employees took on new mission in Afghanistan conflict’s final days: Getting evacuees to the U.S.

In 17 ½ years as a flight attendant for United Airlines, Hope Williams has worked thousands of flights.

But one recent flight will stay with her forever.

Williams recalled the mixture of fear, uncertainty, relief and hope on the faces of hundreds of Afghan evacuees on the day they boarded the Boeing 777-300 that would take them from Qatar to Germany, then on to the United States.

She was part of a crew of more than a dozen United employees who volunteered to work on one of the first Afghan evacuee flights operated by the carrier. Williams said they tried to make those onboard feel comfortable, but it was clear the trauma of leaving Kabul was fresh. The stories they told and the bruises on their bodies brought tears to her eyes. But her time with them also brought something else.

“It’s like my name: Hope,” she said. “To know they were that much closer to being safe, it’s something I know I will never forget.”

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Williams and her colleagues were among thousands of employees at six commercial U.S. carriers who played roles in the massive evacuation to get Americans and allies out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan before the Biden administration’s deadline. The final evacuation flights departed early this week as the United States vacated Afghanistan and the besieged Kabul airport, handing control to the Taliban after two decades of war.

In the air and on the ground, airline employees say they served as translators and troubleshooters. They stocked planes with diapers and teddy bears for hundreds of evacuated children and dug into their own pockets if supplies were needed. They delivered pizza to those awaiting processing who were stuck on planes at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, prompting the business taking the order to proclaim with glee: “Y’all we’ve got a big one. American Airlines!” the airline wrote on its company blog.

Hours before Delta’s first flight carrying evacuees was scheduled to arrive Aug. 23 at Dulles, the airline received word that several dozen children were among those on board. Three airline employees hopped into a van to stock up on diapers, formula and baby snacks.

Since that time, Delta flew 18 evacuation flights, bringing about 4,600 evacuees to the United States. United flew 4,000 people to the U.S. on 13 evacuation flights.

In all, U.S. officials said 122,000 men, women and children were flown out of the country in the unprecedented airlift. Of that total, 79,000 were evacuated by American military aircraft; the rest on charter and allied military flights. As of Friday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said 14,000 Afghan evacuees had arrived in Virginia.

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The effort included 18 planes from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines and United. The aircraft were used to augment military flights under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, a Department of Defense program created after World War II that allows the government to utilize commercial aircraft during a national defense crisis.

The commercial planes did not fly into Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, but ferried passengers from transit centers and U.S. military bases in nations such as Qatar, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates, where Afghans were processed for resettlement in other countries.

The first flights began landing in the U.S. last week. The vast majority touched down at Dulles, alongside reports that some evacuees were stuck on planes for as long as 12 hours as they waited to be screened and vetted by U.S. officials. The delays reflected the challenges of admitting thousands of people to the country in a short span of time.

The processing delays were largely resolved by the end of last week after officials opened more areas for evacuees to wait until they could be processed. One location, housed in a converted United maintenance hangar, proved spacious enough for some to play soccer – a reminder, employees said, that no matter where they land, kids will be kids.

Philadelphia International Airport began receiving flights over the weekend, relieving pressure on Dulles as the operation began to wind down.

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United flight attendant David Rocca, who was with Williams on the flight from Qatar to Germany, said he was struck by how few possessions evacuees carried with them.

“No shoes, no luggage – just a few personal belongings in a plastic bag,” he said. It was a reminder, he said, of all they had left behind.

Monday evening, United Chief Executive Scott Kirby – in Washington for a meeting at the White House – met with a small group of employees at Dulles to praise their efforts.

“Thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “This is where we get the chance to do something that really makes a difference.”

Midway through the town hall, one employee reminded colleagues that stories seemingly far way can often hit close to home.

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Mohammad Asif, who works at Dulles loading and unloading aircraft, is originally from Afghanistan and translated for the arriving evacuees. The former U.S. Marine translator told the room that he remains concerned for his wife, mother and younger sister and brother who are still in Afghanistan. He fears for their lives, he said, and hoped they could be helped.

Airline employees said being part of the evacuation effort lifted their spirits at a time when many have grown weary of the steady drumbeat of negative headlines: hurricanes, fires and the pandemic.

Mehdi Haririnia, a customer service supervisor with United who immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in 1988, served as a translator for arriving Afghans, helping to answer questions and explain the process new arrivals must follow after they land. The work, he said, reminded him that a friendly face speaking a familiar language can be calming, even in the midst of turmoil.

United pilot Jennifer Shields, who is helping to fly groups of evacuees to Wisconsin, where some will be housed at Fort McCoy, called the opportunity the most meaningful of her career.

Alaska Airlines announced last week it would fly evacuees to military bases across the country that will serve as temporary homes for evacuees. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the military is prepared to house up to 50,000 Afghans at seven bases and facilities in the U.S.

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Williams recalled the family that sat in Row 34, seats A, B and C, that made multiple trips to the Kabul airport before finally getting through. Then there was the translator who made it through the gates, only to lose track of his family at the end. He sat on the airplane frantically trying to sign on to the free Wi-Fi in hopes he could locate them, but was not successful.

“Life-changing,” she said. “And humbling. Very humbling.”

Source: washingtonpost

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Terry Bradshaw is under fire for his ‘cringey’ Erin Andrews remark

Terry Bradshaw of Fox has been chastised for his comments regarding Erin Andrews and her country-themed clothes during an interview with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White on the “Thursday Night Football” pregame program.

White and Andrews conducted the part in a horse stable to explore White’s passion of horses, which aired during the network’s pregame program before Tampa Bay’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.

“I do want to know how old you were when you first went on top of a horse, first rode one?” Andrews said after the interview, appearing on a screen behind Fox’s pregame crew as the sideline reporter.

Curt Menefee asked the question again, and Bradshaw answered that he was three years old before moving on to the controversial remarks.

Bradshaw replied, “You’ve got your cowboy boots on and your shirt on.” “You have a nice appearance. That was a great touch. That was a fun interview.”

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Bradshaw, a 73-year-old Hall of Fame Steelers quarterback and long-time broadcaster, made the remark to Andrews three days after Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden quit after emails containing homophobic and sexist language were leaked. Topless photographs of the Washington Football Team’s cheerleaders were shared between Gruden, former WFT CEO Bruce Allen, and others, and were the focus of a Washington Post investigation in 2020.

Another national NFL commentator, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, attracted flak last year for making a sexist remark about female Pittsburgh Steelers supporters.

During the December 2020 broadcast, he stated, “Everybody’s a fan.” “It was the females I met in particular that impressed me. They’re asking really detailed questions about the game, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Wow.’ You’re really astounded at how passionate the supporters are in this place.”

Collinsworth later apologized, claiming that he “insulted many” with the way he framed his comments. Andrews and Bradshaw had not publicly commented on their “Thursday Night Football” argument as of Friday morning.

Credit: nypost

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La Niña is on its way. What does this indicate for winter weather in the United States?

According to official forecasts, La Nia will most likely return for the winter.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center reported on Thursday that La Nia conditions have emerged and are likely to persist from December through February, with an 87 percent likelihood.

La Nia (Spanish for “little girl”) is a climatic phenomenon that happens every few years in the Pacific Ocean and has an influence on weather all across the world.

Temperature and precipitation are likely to be affected in the United States, which might have ramifications for hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts.

Forecasters remind out that this is the second consecutive La Nia winter, a typical occurrence known as a “double-dip.” From August 2020 to April 2021, the most current period was in effect. (For more on what has transpired subsequently, see below.)

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Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, stated in a press release that “we scientists have been watching the possible formation of a La Nia since this summer, and it was a component in the above-normal hurricane season forecast, which we have seen unfold.” “During the winter, La Nia has an impact on weather across the country, and it will have an impact on our forthcoming temperature and precipitation forecasts.”

On October 21, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will announce its official winter forecast. Meanwhile, here’s a crash course on how La Nia works and what it means for different areas of the nation.

What exactly is La Niña?

La Nia, according to scientists, is not a storm that hits a certain place at a specific time. Instead, it’s a shift in global atmospheric circulation that has an impact on global weather.

Consider how a large construction project across town might alter traffic flow near your home, with people being rerouted, side roads carrying additional traffic, and typical exits and on-ramps closed, according to a NOAA webpage. “At different times of the day, different neighborhoods will be the most affected. The building project’s impacts would be felt through variations in usual patterns, but you wouldn’t anticipate the project to ‘strike’ your home.”

Let’s begin with a technical explanation: It’s part of the El Nio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, which is characterized by contrasting warm and cool oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Pacific.

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On average, La Nia and its counterpart, El Nio, chill and warm vast portions of the tropical ocean every two to seven years. (There is also a “neutral” state, which we’ve been in since the previous La Nia ended.)

Forecasters can formally proclaim a La Nia event when sea surface temperatures fall below a specific threshold, are expected to stay below that threshold, and cause a notable atmospheric reaction, such as changes in winds, according to the NOAA (which has a helpful flowchart).

Here’s how that works.

“Trade winds travel west down the equator in typical circumstances in the Pacific Ocean, transporting warm water from South America to Asia. Cold water rises from the deep to replace the warm water, a process known as upwelling “NOAA describes the situation. “El Nio and La Nia are two opposing climatic trends that deviate from the norm.”

When the trade winds are stronger than usual because to La Nia, more warm water is pushed toward Asia. Meanwhile, cold water is rising to the surface off the west coast of the Americas due to increased upwelling. (The nutrient-rich water also attracts cold-water animals such as squid and salmon to the California coast.)

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The jet stream moves northward due to cold seas, then weakens across the eastern Pacific.

So what does that actually feel like on the ground?

According to NOAA, La Nia has the greatest influence on North American rain, snow, and temperatures throughout the winter.

In general, La Nia winters are drier and warmer than average in the southern United States, and cooler and wetter in the northern United States and Canada.

More rain and snow may fall in the Pacific Northwest, sections of the Midwest, and the Tennessee and Ohio valleys than in an usual winter.

La Nia can also result in a more severe Atlantic hurricane season, as we’re witnessing this year.

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While La Nia occurrences are linked to specific climatic trends, such as temperature and rainfall variations in different regions of the nation, forecasters emphasize that they are a question of “probability, not certainty.”

If you’re wondering if La Nia will have an impact on your house this winter, NOAA experts provide the following advice:

“Maybe. Probably. Most likely not. The response is contingent on a number of circumstances, including where you reside, the strength of the event, and other climatic trends that emerge and impact the seasonal outcome.”

What about weather events such as snow, flooding and tornadoes?

Although snowfall is difficult to forecast, scientists believe La Nia will bring more snow to the Northwest, northern Rockies, and Upper Midwest Great Lakes area. The Southwest, central-southern Plains, and mid-Atlantic will likely get less rain than typical.

In general, La Nia causes more storms in the Atlantic but fewer in the eastern and central Pacific (El Nio does the reverse). Those Atlantic hurricanes, according to NOAA, develop in the deep tropics from African easterly waves, making them more prone to become big hurricanes that may reach the Caribbean and the United States.

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Tornadoes and which regions of the country are more likely to see them appear to be influenced by the position of the jet stream. The jet stream and severe weather are more likely to be farther north during La Nia winters.

La Nia could exacerbate California’s current drought, making the state’s wildfire season even more dangerous. According to Bloomberg, the majority of the state’s yearly water comes from rain and snow between November and April, which is also when La Nia is expected to move storm tracks north and away from the region that needs it.

While the southern United States may face protracted drought, the northern United States, particularly the Pacific Northwest, is anticipated to receive significant rainfall and flooding.

How long will it persist, and how frequently will it occur?

El Nio and La Nia episodes, according to the National Ocean Service, generally last nine to twelve months but can often span years.

Both tend to emerge in the spring, peak in intensity in the late fall or winter, and then go away in the spring or summer.

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In other words, La Nia will have the greatest impact on the United States between January and March, although it may persist until early spring.

Why is it called that?

South American fisherman had long seen warmer-than-normal coastal Pacific Ocean waters and severe declines in fish harvest around Christmastime, according to the background. After baby Jesus, they named the phenomena El Nio, which means “small boy” in Spanish.

As a result, when scientists discovered the polar opposite of El Nio in the 1980s, they named it La Nia. (Of course, these days, terminology concerning gender identity and expression is much more complicated.)

What does this have to do with climate change?

Scientists aren’t sure how a warmer planet might influence the ENSO cycle just yet.

“But keep in mind that just because we don’t have high confidence in how ENSO could evolve in the future doesn’t imply it won’t,” NOAA wrote in a blog post in 2016. “It just means there’s more work for scientists to undertake.”

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They are optimistic, however, that ENSO will continue to exist in the future. They also believe that global warming will have an impact on La Nia’s effects, particularly extreme weather occurrences.

Credit:NPR

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High-class issues plaguing Pete Buttigieg

It’s time for Pete Buttigieg to drive away from the Department of Transportation — if he shows up for work and can find a driver. Even by federal government standards, the head of a department disappearing during an emergency is a disgrace. For a technocratic Democrat in a technocratic government, it’s absurd.

The intelligentsia is blaming the supply-chain disaster on middle-class false awareness. ‘Most of the economic problems we’re dealing with (inflation, supply chains, and so on) are high-class issues,’ says Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain.

If the peasants can’t find veggies on the stores, Ron, let them devour the wealthy. Because only the wealthy are concerned about commodity prices growing at a higher rate than they have since 2008. When the price of fuel, veggies, and infant formula continues to climb, only the wealthy are aware. Only the wealthy — or at least the well-educated, which has come to signify the same thing these days — are literate enough to be concerned about inflation’s more certain consequences.

It’s part of the amateurishness of those who dominate us that they occasionally let their manners slide, revealing their contempt for the governed. In the past, this has never gone over well in other civilizations. It didn’t go over well with the crazed King George. There’s no reason to believe that Americans will continue to swallow this garbage indefinitely.

Klain’s move is almost as stupid as assigning Buttigieg to Transportation in the first place in terms of intelligence. Why would an administration that purports to prioritize infrastructure hand over a $87 billion budget to someone whose previous experience — as mayor of that major transportation center, South Bend, Indiana — didn’t even include command of South Bend Transpo and its 18 bus routes?

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Although Buttigieg may not know the difference between a rotating system and a refrigerated container, he did finally back Biden for the Democratic candidacy in 2020. This reflects the distinctively American practice of giving ambassadorships to fundraisers and supporters rather than to experienced diplomats who have spent years mastering the local language and even living in post.

I mean “unique” in the sense of “unique among liberal democracies.” The brown envelope and reciprocal back-scratching are used by a lot of banana republics, kleptocracies, and dictatorships. When the Biden administration, like the Trump administration before it, imports this sort of behavior into domestic politics, it aspires to a new low in public ethics. We don’t need Michael Sandel to tell us that’meritocracy’ has failed miserably. In plain sight, a new governing elite is tightening its fortifications and climbing the ladders.

Twenty years ago, American politicians promised their citizens that Brazil will become more like us if they supported globalization. Today, we are becoming more like Brazil: a low-trust society with seemingly insurmountable class and race divides, in which the wealthy live in private areas guarded by a military police force, and politics has devolved into a theatrical performance.

That leads us to another possible rationale for Buttigieg’s appointment to the Transportation Department by Biden’s staff. Buttigieg isn’t only pallid and stale; he’s also homosexual. The media did not hail him as an expert when he was selected in February 2021. They hailed him as a hero of the civil rights movement.

According to ABC News, ‘Pete Buttigieg makes history as the first out homosexual cabinet member.’ Of course, the phrase ‘openly’ has more weight in this context than an 18-wheeler. But that’s the purpose, just as the goal of the unnecessary list of personal pronouns is. It’s politics as symbols, as a virtues-based play.

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The same could be said for the pictures that would have marked Buttigieg’s tenure at Transportation if they weren’t for the impending sight of a chastened Buttigieg returning to South Bend and overhead shots of the Port of Los Angeles showing acres of containers going nowhere.

The first of these photos, obtained by CNN, shows Buttigieg unloading his bike from an SUV and then riding out to a cabinet meeting. The Department of Transportation has to deny it since it resembles a theatrical production.

Buttigieg and his husband Chasten pose with their baby twins in the second of these photos. This was a medical marvel, because neither Pete nor Chasten are what we now refer to as “womb-owners.”

We’ll probably never know how the woman who owns the womb feels about giving up her offspring. The Buttigiegs claim to have adopted the twins through traditional means. Maybe they did. We have their word, and it is up to each of us to determine whether or not we should believe them.

These are really ‘high-class concerns,’ such as performative riding, performative politics, and performative procreation. However, the aristocratic liberals who control us believe that this is more essential than, example, good office performance. What about the rest? Allow them to have cake and painkillers.

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