Taliban forces held a military parade in Kabul on Sunday using captured American-made armoured vehicles and Russian helicopters in a display that showed their ongoing transformation from an insurgent force to a regular standing army.
The Taliban operated as insurgent fighters for two decades but have used the large stock of weapons and equipment left behind when the former Western-backed government collapsed in August to overhaul their forces.
The parade was linked to the graduation of 250 freshly trained soldiers, defence ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khwarazmi said.
The exercise involved dozens of U.S.-made M117 armoured security vehicles driving slowly up and down a major Kabul road with MI-17 helicopters patrolling overhead. Many soldiers carried American made-M4 assault rifles.
Most of the weapons and equipment the Taliban forces are now using are those supplied by Washington to the American-backed government in Kabul in a bid to construct an Afghan national force capable of fighting the Taliban.
Those forces melted away with the fleeing of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani from Afghanistan – leaving the Taliban to take over major military assets.
Taliban officials have said that pilots, mechanics and other specialists from the former Afghan National Army would be integrated into a new force, which has also started wearing conventional military uniforms in place of the traditional Afghan clothing normally worn by their fighters.
According to a report late last year by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), the U.S. government transferred to the Afghan government more than $28 billion worth of defence articles and services, including weapons, ammunition, vehicles, night-vision devices, aircraft, and surveillance systems, from 2002 to 2017.
Some of the aircraft were flown into neighbouring Central Asian Countries by fleeing Afghan forces, but the Taliban have inherited other aircraft. It remains unclear how many are operational.
As the U.S. troops departed, they destroyed more than 70 aircraft, dozens of armoured vehicles and disabled air defences before flying out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport following a chaotic evacuation operation.
(Additional reporting by Kabul bureau; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca
- Liberals introduce bill to ban intimidation of patients and health-care workers.
Israel on Saturday said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country — making it the first to shut its borders completely in response to the potentially more contagious omicron coronavirus variant — and that it would also reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the variant.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.
“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told local media, “and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”
Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.
The Shin Bet domestic security agency’s phone-tracking technology will be used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to curb its transmission to others, the statement said.
Used on and off since March 2020, the surveillance technology matched virus carriers’ locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they had come into contact. Israel’s Supreme Court this year limited the scope of its use after civil rights groups mounted challenges over privacy concerns.
The variant — which since first being detected in South Africa has also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Britain — has sparked global concern and a wave of travel curbs, although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop omicron from circulating globally.
Israel has so far confirmed one case of omicron, with seven suspected cases. The Health Ministry has not said whether the confirmed case was vaccinated. Three of the seven suspected cases were fully vaccinated, the ministry said on Saturday, and three had not returned from travel abroad recently.
Also on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was necessary to take “targeted and precautionary measures” after two people in the U.K. tested positive for a recently discovered coronavirus variant.
He told a news conference that the new rules will be reviewed in three weeks when scientists will know more about the variant, named omicron. It was first detected in South Africa this past week.
Johnson said anyone arriving in England will be asked to take a mandatory PCR test for COVID-19 on the second day and must self-isolate until they provide a negative test. And if someone tests positive for the omicron variant, their close contacts will have to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status.
He also said mask-wearing in shops and on public transit will be required and that the vaccination program will be accelerated, without providing specific details.
What’s happening across Canada
1/2 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> key concerns 🇨🇦: nationally, daily case counts are slowly creeping up so we need to maintain a high degree of caution to avoid a rapid acceleration. Emergence of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Omicron?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Omicron</a>, a new <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/VariantOfConcern?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#VariantOfConcern</a>, reinforces the need for caution. <a href=”https://t.co/UQTuNlUW4o”>https://t.co/UQTuNlUW4o</a>
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday, more than 260.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.1 million.
In the Americas, France has postponed implementing a vaccination mandate for health workers in the Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe after the measure spurred widespread protests in which police officers were injured and journalists attacked.
In Europe, hospitals in southern and eastern regions of Germany have warned they are running out of intensive care beds because of the large numbers of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.
In Africa, officials in South Africa say urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potential omicron-driven influx of patients needing intensive care.
In Asia, India restarted exports of vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX for the first time since April, and producer Serum Institute of India forecast a substantial increase in supplies beginning early next year.
Holiday shopping in Canada: Supply chain issues, delivery deadlines – CTV News
Canada Post says it is adding additional staff and vehicles in anticipation of another busy holiday season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesperson for Canada Post told CTVNews.ca in an email Saturday that the company “continues to ramp up for a busy peak holiday season as Canadians have become much more comfortable shopping online during the pandemic.”
The company said in 2020, during the two weeks ending on Christmas Eve, its employees delivered almost 20 million parcels to Canadians. A record 2.4 million of which were delivered on Dec. 21.
But, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and persistent global supply chain issues, should Canadians be worried about holiday package delivery delays?
Here’s a closer look at what’s going on.
GET HOLIDAY SHOPPING DONE EARLY
David Soberman is a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
He told CTVNews.ca that ultimately, shipping companies like Canada Post are the “last link,” when it comes to the global supply chain and getting goods to consumers.
“Most of the problems in the supply chain are occurring at the retail level and further upstream,” he said during a telephone interview on Saturday.
Beyond ramping up their capacity to deal with an influx of packages during the holiday season, Soberman said there’s not much else shipping companies can do to mitigate these issues for consumers.
He said customers should make sure they check the estimated delivery date listed online by retailers, to ensure their holiday gifts will arrive on time.
However, Soberman cautioned that some specific, popular items might be especially hard to find this year.
“What someone’s going to do if they go into Canadian Tire and they can’t find something – they’re going to start to look on Amazon.ca, or they’ll maybe they’ll look on Walmart.ca,” he said. “And then they’ll start looking on other sites.”
He said if everyone looking for the same item does the same, “eventually you won’t be able to get it.”
“And that’s what’s going to happen with some of the more popular items – certain toys, certain board games, certain electronics, etc.,” he said.
Consumers should try to get their holiday shopping done as early as possible, Soberman said, and should have back-up gift ideas for their loved ones, in case the item they want is unavailable.
Soberman also pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying if new variants are detected in Canada, or the pandemic? worsens, some areas could see new lockdowns or restrictions, which could impede holiday shopping.
“The sooner you get your shopping done the better,” he said.
WHAT HAS CANADA POST SAID?
Canada Post said it encourages customers to “take the time and do their research online with retailers to understand the availability of certain items and ensure they aren’t disappointed.”
The company has also released a schedule for sending holiday cards and packages. The dates vary depending on what you are sending and where.
The deadline to send a package by regular mail to an address in Canada is Dec. 9, while customers have until Dec. 21 to ship priority packages within Canada.
The deadline to send a card nationally is Dec. 17.
The full details, including deadlines to send packages internationally can be found here.
Canada Post said the company is also taking several measures to keep up with the busy holiday season.
The company said it is hiring 4,200 additional seasonal staff across the country and is adding 1,400 more vehicles to its fleet.
Canada Post is also “leveraging new sortation capacity” recently added in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Kitchener, Montreal and Moncton.
The company said it is also adding “temporary parcel pickup locations” in major urban centres and secondary markets to “ease congestion and lineups for holiday parcel pickup at some of our busier post offices.”
WHAT HAS UPS SAID?
In an email to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson for UPS didn’t note any shipping delay concerns, but said the company’s “dedicated employees make UPS well-equipped to handle the challenges of the pandemic and the peak holiday season.”
The company said by the end of next year, it will have also added 49 new aircraft to its fleet since 2017, and said it will have added two million square feet of automated facilities by the end of the year. According to UPS, almost 90 per cent of its packages will flow through these automated facilities.
UPS said the investments in additional air and ground capacity and technology means it can process about 130,000 more pieces of mail per hour than last year.
CTVNews.ca also reached out to Amazon and FedEx to determine if Canadian customers can expect to see shipping delays, but did not hear back by time of publication.
Canada bans flights from South Africa and neighbouring countries – Canada Immigration News
The Canadian government announced that it will limit travel to southern Africa, a region which has reported cases of a new COVID-19 variant of concern.
As of November 26, all foreign nationals who have travelled through the seven affected countries in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Canada. The affected nations include: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique .
Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to return home, but they will have to fly home indirectly, passing through a third country where they will also need to take a molecular COVID-19 test.
Canada’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos said people already in Canada who travelled in the region over the past two weeks should get a COVID-19 test and stay in isolation until they receive a negative test result.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the new measures will be in affect until at least Jan. 31, 2022.
Today we are banning entry for foreign nationals that have travelled to Southern Africa in the last 14 days. We will also make testing mandatory on all Canadians entering into Canada and having travelled to Southern Africa in the last 14 days. 2/2
— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) November 26, 2021
The announcement comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed the new COVID-19 strain, also known as Omicron or B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern. So far, the Omicron variant has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, as well as in Israel, Belgium, and Hong Kong. It has not been found in Canada, according to Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam.
The transport minister encouraged Canadians who are unable to get home due to the restrictions to contact the emergency watch centre.
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