Grim, breaking news out of both Haiti and Afghanistan forced us to set aside our previous plans for today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]
First, breaking coverage on the continuing fallout and search for survivors following the enormous, 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Saturday in Les Cays, Haiti, about 80 miles east of the capitol, Port-au-Prince. As we went to air, more than 1,400 have been declared dead, with thousands more injured. There is already a shortage of hospitals, doctors, medicine and shelter as tens of thousands of families have been left homeless. The temblor in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation comes as it was already struggling with the pandemic and a lack of vaccines, gang violence, and political chaos in the wake of the July 7 assassination of its President.
It also comes as Tropical Depression Grace is set to roll in on Monday night, with some 15 inches of rain expected in some areas. The scale of human tragedy at this hour in Haiti is unfathomable. It's likely to get much worse in the days ahead.
And while nations like Haiti are desperate for vaccines, authoritarian governors in Florida and Texas are blocking small, local governments and schools from even instituting mask requirements as the school year begins. Last week it was announced that 3 Broward County, FL teachers died from COVID over a 24-hour period. None were vaccinated. That, as several school districts defy Gov. Ron DeSantis order blocking mandates to help keep schools open and children alive.
In Texas, the state's all-Republican Supreme Court stood behind Gov. Greg Abbott's similar ban on mask requirements. Several of the state's most populous counties, such as Dallas and Bexar (San Antonio) are also defying their Governors deadly, authoritarian edict.
Then, on the other side of the globe, another massive human tragedy is unfolding today, as Kabul, the capitol city in Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban on Sunday, while U.S. forces are completing their withdraw by months end after 20 years of war launched following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Seven Afghans were killed at Kabul's airport today, as chaos erupted on the tarmac with hundreds of Afghans desperately swarming and clinging to a departing U.S. military jet.
The total collapse of Afghanistan's government --- propped up by the U.S. for decades --- was remarkably swift, with its President fleeing the country over the weekend, handing control of the nation back to the Taliban. U.S. officials say they are stunned by the speed with which the Afghan government simply melted away in recent days. They shouldn't have been. Washington Post's Susannah George reported over the weekend on local, regional and provincial officials literally selling out to the Taliban over the past year and a half, beginning on the very day that the Trump Administration announced an agreement with the Taliban and Afghan Government to withdraw all U.S. forces by May 1 of this year.
Though President Biden extended the deadline for leaving until the end of August, he honored the deal made by the previous Administration to pull out. He spoke today at the White House as to why he stands by his decision, despite the unfolding tragedies. We share his remarks in full, in which he reiterated his previous vow in July that after the deaths of some 2,500 U.S. troops and injuries to more than 20,000 of them, following 20 years of war and more than a trillion dollars spent, he says he cannot, in good conscience, pass on this war to yet a 5th President.
Near the end of the show we open the phone lines to listeners on whether they support Biden's decisions to pull out. The responses, at least today, are remarkably unanimous...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)