Day: September 29, 2021

Reporter’s Notebook: From the mountains to Kabul, Taliban fighters must learn how to govern

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A Taliban fighter hands me his phone, pointing to a video of his friend driving a truck.
“We all signed up to be suicide bombers,” the 22-year-old said. “Unfortunately our names were not picked.”
The video continues a few seconds until the truck explodes.
Before lunch is served, another Taliban member from the same unit walks into the room.
“He has just returned on a flight from Herat, they are in charge of doing security on the domestic airlines,” one fighter sitting nearby added.
(Trey Yingst)
Two months ago these Taliban members were in the middle of a fierce battle against Afghan Security Forces. In their early 20s, they can't remember living in Afghanistan without war.
For many of them, this is the first time they’ve been to a city. It’s certainly the first time they’ve had tea with an American. Earlier in the year, they would’ve killed me. It’s something they joke about now.
These men were raised to be religious militants. The battlefield is all they know.
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Amid a crumbling economy, high poverty rates and isolation from the international community, the Taliban now faces the daunting task of governing a country.
The days reporting in Afghanistan are filled with a dichotomy of images that can be difficult for the brain to fully grasp.
On Saturday for example, we spoke to Taliban fighters who were playing on bumper cars and carnival rides. They told Fox News that everyone is forgiven and there will be nobody targeted.
In the western city of Herat, around the same time, the Taliban hanged the bodies of dead kidnappers from cranes in a central square.
While the array of hardened militants to speak with can be interesting as a journalist, the story that is slipping through the cracks is the Afghan civilian population.
(Trey Yingst)
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Last week we met 30-day-old Edrice, a baby living with his family in a city park. I’ve thought about him every day since. What will his future be like?
During the final days of the war, thousands of Afghans fled their homes for the Afghan capital of Kabul. With literally no money or food, they are stuck and they are starving.
We cover conflict all around the world: Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, the list goes on. But I always find it most difficult to report on hungry children.
You listen to the defeated voices of adults who simply can’t provide for their families. You feel the sense of dread as parents understand they’ll have to watch their children suffer. Sad doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of watching others experience this type of trauma. I’d describe it as heartbreaking.
UNICEF warned this month that 1 million Afghan children are at risk of starvation. The physical and mental health of the next generation is at risk each day.
This comes amid a backdrop of children being children. These young Afghans turn a scrap of food and some water into a tea party, they take old tires and pretend they are in a spaceship and they laugh when you just say hello.
(Trey Yingst)
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I’m glad we can be here to tell their stories. Along with the stories of thousands of innocent Afghans left behind following the US withdrawal. It’s cliche, but we really do have a chance to give a voice to the voiceless.
I’m not bothered by the danger of this assignment. The threats from ISIS-K or a radical Taliban faction are real, but so is the opportunity to shine light on a part of the world that most people won’t go to.
Between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Qatar, I’ve been on assignment for 39 straight days.
Our coverage continues.

‘Missing’ Turkish man joined search party for himself

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A Turkish man who got drunk and wandered into the forest later unknowingly joined a search party to find himself, according to bizarre local reports.
Beyhan Mutlu, 50, who lives in the northwestern Bursa province, was reported missing Tuesday after he wandered away from his friends, the Daily Sabah reported.
A search operation was formed to find him. Mutlu joined a group of volunteers not realizing he was the person they were searching for, according to the outlet.
A Turkish man reported missing in a forest joined the same search party organized to find him. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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At some point, volunteers began shouting his name. Mutlu became confused and asked who they were looking for, Turkish channel news channel NTV reported.
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“I am here,” he reportedly told them.
Police realized the man they were looking for had joined his own search party and gave him a ride home.

German kingmakers open talks toward forming new government

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The two parties that are expected to determine who will become Germany's next chancellor have started talks to bridge their differences and declared that they got off to a good start.
Sunday's parliamentary election left Germany's traditional big parties effectively needing the support of the third- and fourth-placed parties, the environmentalist Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats, to take the top job after outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's 16-year reign.
The two smaller parties decided to talk to each other first before entertaining advances from bigger suitors. While they have some common ground, they have traditionally belonged to rival ideological camps and have different approaches to issues including the economy and fighting climate change.
Saskia Esken, federal chairwoman of the SPD, Rolf Mützenich, chairman of the SPD parliamentary group and Olaf Scholz, SPD candidate for chancellor and federal minister of finance as well as parliamentary group vice-chairwoman Bärbel Bas and Katja Mast, from left, stand for a group picture after the meeting of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. (Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP)
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In recent decades, the Greens have tended toward the center-left Social Democrats of narrow election winner Olaf Scholz. The Free Democrats have tended toward Merkel's center-right Union bloc, which finished second under would-be successor Armin Laschet — its worst-ever result.
In near-identical Instagram posts early Wednesday, Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock and Free Democrat leader Christian Lindner posted a picture of themselves with Baerbock's fellow Green leader Robert Habeck and the Free Democrats' general secretary, Volker Wissing.
“In the search for a new government, we are sounding out common ground and bridges over things that divide us — and even finding some,” the posts read. “Exciting times.”
Wissing and Baerbock declined to elaborate later Wednesday, citing an agreement to keep the talks confidential. They said a larger group of negotiators from the two parties will meet Friday.
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Wissing said the Free Democrats also have accepted invitations to meet with the Union, probably on Saturday, and with the Social Democrats on Sunday.
Baerbock, who said there is a “mandate for a progressive government,” said the Greens will meet separately with the Social Democrats on Sunday. She added that the Union has invited the Greens to talks next week.
The only other plausible combination of parties that would have a majority in parliament is a repeat of the often bad-tempered outgoing “grand coalition” of the two big parties, which neither of them wants.
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Merkel's current coalition came about after the 2017 election when Lindner pulled the plug on talks on a possible alliance with the chancellor's Union and the Greens.
Merkel hasn't yet commented publicly on the election result. But her office said Wednesday that she congratulated Scholz, currently her vice chancellor and finance minister, on “his election success” on Monday.

Australian man ‘a bit sore’ after hand was caught in croc’s jaws

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An Australian wildlife tour operator said he was lucky to escape more serious injury or even death when a crocodile lunged from a river and clamped his hand in its jaws.
Sean Dearly was attacked on Monday on the Adelaide River, which is renowned for its “jumping crocodiles” — large crocodiles that rise vertically from the water to snatch chicken carcasses dangled from long poles extended from tourist cruise boats.
The 60-year-old Dearly spoke Wednesday about his encounter with a young 2.2-meter (7-foot) crocodile.
“I’m feeling all right. I’m a bit sore in the arm, of course, but, yeah, I survived it,” he told Nine Network television.
In this image made from a video, Australian wildlife tour operator Sean Dearly is interviewed in Darwin, Australia, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Dearly said he was lucky to escape more serious injury or even death when a crocodile lunged from a river and clamped his hand in its jaws. Dearly was attacked on Monday on the Adelaide River, which is renowned for its “jumping crocodiles,” large crocodiles that rise vertically from the water to snatch chicken carcasses dangled from long poles extended from tourist cruise boats. (CHANNEL 9 via AP) (CHANNEL 9 Austrialia)
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Dearly had his right hand and forearm in a cast, but did not detail his injuries. He had undergone surgery to repair a severed tendon in his hand, the Northern Territory News reported.
Dearly said he told the 18 tourists on his cruise on Monday to keep their entire bodies inside the boat at all times for safety.
He then did the opposite when he decided to retrieve a pole he had been using to feed meat to raptors and had dropped overboard.
He was about to grab the pole and “immediately something lunged on to me,” Dearly said.
The crocodile remained clamped on to his arm as he drew back.
“I’ve lifted a crocodile up and I’ve gone: ‘My god, what have I got here?’ And I’m thinking: ‘What are we going to do about this? It’s hanging off my arm,’” Dearly said.
Dearly said he hoped the crocodile would not twist its body, which could have caused more serious tearing wounds and potentially dragged him overboard.
“If it had gone into a twist, it would have given me a bit of grief,” Dearly said.
“It went for another bite and it actually released its grip and I just got my arm out as soon as it released. So I was pretty lucky it dropped back down in the water,” he added.
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An ambulance was called to the scene but Dearly had already left in a car to make the hourlong journey to the nearest hospital at Palmerston, near Darwin.
“If it had been one of our bigger crocodiles, we’ve got Brutus and the Dominator up the river there, massive animals,” Dearly said, referring to Adelaide River crocs that are respectively 5.5 meters (18 feet) and 6 meters (20 feet) long.