Other view: Trump's Cut-and-Run Plan for Afghanistan Sets the Stage for a Bloodbath
OTHER VIEW

Other view: Trump's Cut-and-Run Plan for Afghanistan Sets the Stage for a Bloodbath

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Trade war's losers could include microchips, energy, banks

In this Aug. 12, 2019, photo specialist Peter Mazza works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks of companies that do lots of business with China are obvious targets to sell when trade worries rise, and they’ve lagged sharply behind the rest of the market whenever President Donald Trump sends out a tariff tweet. But investors are also looking way beyond these first-order effects, as they pick out which stocks look most vulnerable to the trade war. 

President Donald Trump is preparing a shameful cut-and-run from Afghanistan, the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the disastrous U.S. retreat from Vietnam. This is happening not because it would benefit the Afghan people or make the world safer but because, for his reelection bid, Trump needs to be able to claim he brought this nearly 18-year war to an end.

By keeping U.S. negotiations with the Taliban secret — even from Afghanistan’s elected leaders — Trump apparently hopes to start withdrawing U.S. troops before the American public wakes up to this new atrocity.

Our nation’s longest war turned into a quagmire years ago. By anyone’s definition, it started as a justified post-9/11 response to rid the world of al-Qaida and its Taliban hosts. But it didn’t work out that way. Taliban forces simply retreated and regrouped. They now dominate the Afghan countryside.

Special U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad announced this week that a U.S.-Taliban peace deal had been reached in principle, although details remain secret. Trump says he will begin withdrawing 5,400 U.S. troops over the next 135 days, with the remaining 8,600 to be pulled out in stages.

Although elected Afghan leaders and their Taliban counterparts are supposed to negotiate their own peace deal as U.S. forces depart, it’s clear that the Taliban is simply waiting to sweep back into power by force. Trump, expressing exasperation with U.S. “nation building,” has signaled no intention to stand in the Taliban’s way.

This deal is a U.S. concession of defeat, handing back Afghanistan to al-Qaida’s best friends in flagrant disregard of the thousands of American troops who fought and died there. For the Afghans who embraced democracy and put their fates in American hands, an unmitigated disaster is unfolding.

Afghans will be left to the mercy of Taliban terrorists who think nothing of harshly beating and oppressing women, imprisoning their detractors, publicly hanging alleged adulterers, slicing off the hands of accused thieves, or cutting out the tongues of accused blasphemers. They will not hesitate to exact revenge on the thousands of Afghans who collaborated with the American occupiers.

The Taliban’s “peaceful” intentions were on display this week as the group negotiated with Khalilzad while launching the suicide bombing of a Kabul neighborhood, killing at least 30 Afghans. Another bombing Thursday killed 10, including a U.S. soldier. Whatever deal is worked out, it’s clear that the Taliban, once free of a U.S. military presence, plans to unleash a bloodbath. The group’s cold-blooded record, past and present, speaks for itself.

This is what America gets for putting in office a president who has no understanding of battlefield honor and whose only prior military experience consists of a heroic fight to obtain a bone-spur deferment. The cut-and-run, easy way out has always been Trump’s mantra.

REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH.

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Idaho’s structure of electing governors and LG’s completely separately — different from many states which bind them together — allows for the office holders to come from different points of view.

For future historians and artists who'll chronicle today's health and economic crisis, one humble item will stand out as the chief cultural emblem of the times: wearing a mask. Or not.

A small outbreak of coronavirus at a Fry Foods plant in Weiser gives a prime example of the importance of testing for COVID-19. More than that, it represents a warning shot across the bow of potential pitfalls if we don’t reopen our economy the right way.

As we tiptoe through Stage 2 of Gov. Brad Little’s phased reopening plan and approach a more robust Stage 3, it’s going to become even more important that we take the necessary steps to prevent future outbreaks.

And there will be future outbreaks.

The fact remains that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is still out there. It’s ready to strike again, and without a vaccine, it remains a potentially destructive and fatal disease.

Aggressive and quick testing remains one of the key elements — perhaps the most important element — of controlling outbreaks at this point.

Fry Foods offers an early case study.

The Weiser food processing plant employs 260 people to make onion rings and other food products. It shut down earlier this month when at least seven employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fry Foods initially didn’t test all 260 employees at the Weiser facility — only the 50 or 60 who likely came in contact with the employees who tested positive. Other employees were able to get tested on their own.

The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories (state run-laboratories) tested all that they had the capacity to do in one day, according to Kelly Petroff, director of communications for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The state lab can do about has a testing capacity of approximately 200 tests per day.

“We are not prepared to handle this,” Doug Wold, human resources manager for Fry Foods, told the Idaho Statesman, referring to the lack of coordinated response. “If you don’t have an employer who’s willing to be proactive, we’re just going to fail.”

Fortunately, Crush the Curve Idaho, a private, business-led initiative established during the outbreak to increase testing, stepped in and tested every employee at Fry Foods.

By Tuesday of this week, 20 employees — about 8% of the plant’s workforce — had tested positive for the coronavirus, along with at least two of their family members. Nearly all were asymptomatic.

RAPID-RESPONSE TESTING

That’s what needs to happen: rapid-response testing. If you have an outbreak at your workplace, get everyone tested. For those who test positive, keep them home and isolated. For those who test negative, they can keep on working and you’re back in business.

When the outbreak hit Fry Foods, company officials made the decision to shut the plant down.

Without adequate testing, that’s unfortunately the right thing to do. Without testing, you have no idea whether you have seven infected employees, 70 or 270.

We applaud Fry Foods company officials for making the tough call to shut down, even though they were given the green light by the Southwest District Health Department to resume operations.

Coronavirus is stealthy. A person can carry coronavirus longer without symptoms, potentially spreading to others unwittingly. Some people who carry coronavirus have no symptoms at all.

We are encouraged that Crush the Curve Idaho stepped up and stepped in here.

But Idaho needs a more concerted and organized plan to do rapid-response testing.

We are a fragmented health system. Health providers include Saint Alphonsus, St. Luke’s, Primary Health, Saltzer, among others. Then think about all the entities who pay for health care: Blue Cross of Idaho, Regence BlueShield, PacificSource, SelectHealth, etc. Throw in Medicare, Medicaid and those who are uninsured.

Even our own government health management system is fragmented, with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and seven independent health districts not operated by the state.

And, in the case of Fry Foods, situated in a city bordering Oregon, workers were from two states.

NO COORIDINATED EFFORTS

No wonder Fry Foods officials were at a loss for where to turn for help. Without some sort of coordinated effort to test all employees and somehow pay for those tests, shutting down the plant was the best option.

It’s worth noting that the Fry Foods employee who initially had coronavirus was at a family gathering of a larger number than outlined in the governor’s reopening plan and was with visitors from out of state, two violations of the governor’s guidelines. That’s why we have the guidelines, and that’s why it’s important to follow the guidelines. Otherwise, this is what you get: an outbreak that shuts down an entire food manufacturing plant.

Unfortunately, shutting down operations every time there’s an outbreak is not going to get the job done.

And there will be more outbreaks as we reopen our economy, reopen factories and workplaces.

Idaho has a lot to be optimistic about, and we have a golden opportunity to lead the nation in reopening our economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. We have had relatively few cases (around 2,300) and few deaths (77). Our early efforts to shut down parts of our social interactions and Little’s quick call to issue a statewide stay-home order clearly have paid off. Idahoans’ adherence to the stay-home order has helped to flatten the curve and control the number of new cases. Residents and businesses, alike, have done their part to make this happen.

Our hope is that Idaho can chug along through the stages of reopening. Our fear is that if we don’t do this the right way, we’ll have a surge and we’ll be back to a statewide stay-home order. Nobody wants that.

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