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Al Qaeda Kingpin Resurfaces In Afghanistan Surrounded By Taliban Security

Amin Al Haq’s reappearance under Taliban protection highlights concerns about the US government’s remote counter-terrorism strategy going forward.

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Al Qaeda Kingpin Resurfaces In Afghanistan Surrounded By Taliban Security

A video has emerged online today that reportedly shows Dr. Amin Al Haq, who served for a time as the personal security chief for Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, traveling in the open in Afghanistan for the first time in a decade with a Taliban escort. If the description of this video is accurate, it can only raise questions about the current relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda and whether the former group will again give the latter safe haven in the country.

At the same time, a controversial American drone strike in Kabul yesterday, which, regardless of its intended targets, increasingly appears to have killed a number of innocent civilians, highlights the potential limits of future “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorism capabilities that will be available to the U.S. government going forward. All of this comes on the eve of the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the end of what American officials now say is set to be the largest evacuation airlift operation in U.S. military history.

It’s unclear when it was shot, but the video was reportedly taken at a checkpoint in Nangarhar Province, which is where Al Haq was born. He is believed to have fled Al Qaeda’s cave complex in Tora Bora into Pakistan with other senior members of the terrorist group, including Bin Laden himself, sometime between 2001 and 2002. 

Al Haq was arrested in the Pakistani city of Lahore in 2008, but was released in 2011 under murky circumstances, and subsequently disappeared from the public eye. It’s unclear whether this is actually his first trip back to Afghanistan since then, but it certainly looks to be the first time that he has been spotted out in public, which is notable in its own right. 

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World News

Iceland almost gets female-majority parliament

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Iceland almost gets female-majority parliament

Iceland briefly celebrated electing a female-majority parliament Sunday, before a recount produced a result just short of that landmark for gender parity in the North Atlantic island nation.

The initial vote count had female candidates winning 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains.

Hours later, a recount in western Iceland changed the outcome, leaving female candidates with 30 seats, a tally previously reached at Iceland’s second most recent election, in 2016. Still, at almost 48% of the total, that is the highest percentage for women lawmakers in Europe.

Only a handful of countries, none of them in Europe, have a majority of female lawmakers. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda leads the world with women making up 61% of its Chamber of Deputies, with Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico on or just over the 50% mark. Worldwide, the organization says just over a quarter of legislators are women.

“The female victory remains the big story of these elections,” politics professor Olafur Hardarson told broadcaster RUV after the recount.

Iceland’s voting system is divided into six regions and the recount in western Iceland was held after questions about the number of ballots cast. The mistakes have not been entirely explained but are thought to be due to human error.

The three parties in the outgoing coalition government led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir won a total of 37 seats in Saturday’s vote, two more than in the last election, and appeared likely to continue in power.

Opinion polls had suggested a victory for left-leaning parties in the unpredictable election, which saw 10 parties competing for seats. But the center-right Independence Party took the largest share of votes, winning 16 seats, seven of them held by women. The centrist Progressive Party celebrated the biggest gain, winning 13 seats, five more than last time.

Read more on AP News…

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Business

Elon Musk praises China, says Tesla will continue to expand investments there

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Elon Musk praises China, says Tesla will continue to expand investments there
  • Elon Musk reassured Tesla’s commitment to China in a virtual speech at the World Internet Conference that’s hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China.
  • Musk said the automaker will continue to expand its investments in the country.
  • It’s the second time this month Musk was highly complimentary of the nation that’s imperative to his electric vehicle company, saying it’s a “global leader digitalization.”
  • Less than two weeks ago, at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress, Musk said Chinese automakers were the “most competitive in the world.”

Elon Musk reassured Tesla’s commitment to China, saying the automaker will continue to expand its investments in the country.

Musk’s comments came in a pre-recorded question-and-answer style stream at the World Internet Conference, hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China.

It’s the second time this month Musk was highly complimentary of the nation that’s imperative to his electric vehicle company, saying it’s a “global leader digitalization.” Less than two weeks ago, Musk, during another pre-recorded stream at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress, said Chinese automakers were the “most competitive in the world.”

“My frank observation is that China spends a lot of resources and efforts applying the latest digital technologies in different industries, including the automobile industry, making China a global leader in digitalization,” Musk said in the latest video. “Tesla will continue to expand our investment and R&D efforts in China.”

Read more on CNBC…

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Health

Italy Orders Companies Not to Pay Unvaccinated Workers

Unjabbed employees face large fines if they show up to work.

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Italy Orders Companies Not to Pay Unvaccinated Workers

The Italian government has passed a decree applying to both the private and public sector ordering companies to withhold pay from workers who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

The decree mandates that all employees get the vaccine ‘green pass’, which led to questions about what would happen to the millions of Italians who remain unvaccinated.

The government is attempting to avoid potential legal action by directing companies not to fire the unvaccinated, but simply to not pay them while telling employees not to show up to work under threat of being fined if they do so.

“Instead, they should be considered to be on an unjustified absence and have their wages or salaries withheld,” writes Ken Macon.

“Those found to be working without a vaccine passport could be punished with fines of up to €1,500. Additionally, the government said it would not cater for the test costs for those who would prefer not to take the vaccine.”

Read more on Summit News…

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