Saturday News: Get. Your. Shot.

RALEIGH'S HOPSCOTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL WILL REQUIRE VACCINE CARD: In order to gain entry, attendees will need to show their vaccination card, a photocopy of it, or photograph of it on their phone, or they’ll need to show negative test result for the virus obtained within 72 hours “for each day that you attend the festival,” organizers said in an announcement on the festival’s website. Attendees must also bring photo ID. The festival is also strongly encouraging attendees to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status or seating location. And while the festival will be held at outdoor stages in Downtown Raleigh, event organizers reminded patrons that masks will be required at all indoor spaces, per the city’s recently adopted mask mandate.

TEENAGERS WHO WANT COVID VACCINE HAVE TO GET PARENTAL CONSENT: State law has given minors the ability on their own to be treated for certain health issues, including communicable diseases. That had included a COVID-19 vaccine if they showed "the decisional capacity to do so,” according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. That worried some legislators and their constituents, who wanted more say over whether their child could be immunized given the speed in which the vaccine was approved. The new prerequisite, which would end once an emergency-use designation is removed, comes as many parents seek the vaccine for their older children as schools on traditional school calendars return to class next week. As of Friday, 292,759 North Carolina youths age 12 to 17 have gotten at least one shot of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, DHHS data shows. The vaccinated youth are close to 37% of the nearly 800,000 children in that age group. That's not enough, and frankly, a whole lot of those parents are too immature and stupid to be given that authority.

JOHN TORBETT PUSHED MONEY FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS WHILE WIFE SAT ON CHARTER BOARD: Rep. John Torbett, first elected in 2010, filed a detailed economic interest statement in 2014, but filed “no change,” forms in 2019, 2020 and 2021. His wife, Viddia Torbett, serves as vice chair of Community Public Charter School’s board of directors, which opened its doors in 2019 in the Gaston County community of Stanley. After government transparency advocate Bob Hall, the former executive director of Democracy North Carolina, filed a complaint with the state ethics commission, Torbett filed a new statement of economic interest, disclosing his wife’s position. “He has significant influence over policy and funding of charter schools and public education,” Hall wrote in the complaint. The school received a $250,000 federal grant in 2019 when it opened, according to a Washington Post story that questions whether the federal government is funding “white flight academies.” He thinks a "conflict of interest" is the difference between what his savings account earns and his credit card charges.

ANTI-VAXXERS BIGGEST TALKING POINT IS ABOUT TO FIZZLE: The Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in the coming days, according to four people with knowledge of the plans. If approved, the vaccine would be the first in the United States to receive full licensure, and it could result in private businesses issuing a new wave of vaccine mandates. Public health experts have argued that the FDA’s move to grant full approval will be a pivotal moment in the fight against the pandemic, predicting that it would ease the ability of employers to mandate that millions of holdout Americans get vaccinated. It's about f**king time. Over 100 Million Americans have been vaccinated with the Pfizer version alone, and 4.89 Billion doses of the various versions have been administered worldwide. If that's "experimental," I'll eat my mask.

REMEMBER THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE? WELL, THEY'RE BACK IN THE ANTI-TALIBAN BUSINESS: Groups of armed Afghans attacked the Taliban on Friday, driving Afghanistan's new rulers out of three northern districts, the first assault against the Islamist militants since they swept into Kabul last week and seized control of the government. Local anti-Taliban commanders claimed in interviews they had killed as many as 30 of the group’s fighters and captured 20 in the takeover of the districts in Baghlan province, just over 100 miles north of the capital. Former Afghan service members were joined in the fight, they said, by local civilians. Images shared online showed celebrations as the red, green and black Afghan national flag — rather than the white flag of the Taliban — was raised over government buildings. “We have ignited something that is historic in Afghanistan,” said Sediqullah Shuja, 28, a former Afghan soldier who took part in Friday’s uprising. “Taliban fighters had armored vehicles, but people threw stones at Taliban fighters and drove them out.” “As long as we are alive,” he said, “we do not accept the Taliban’s rule.” Friday’s attack is the latest sign of defiance toward the Taliban, ranging from Afghans refusing to fly the white Taliban flag to women protesting to preserve their rights. Together, they illuminate some of the obstacles the Taliban faces as it seeks to form a government deemed acceptable by a broad spectrum of Afghans and by the international community, especially donors. As I said at the time, after we toppled the Taliban, we should have turned the country over to the Northern Alliance. But American Exceptionalism took over; the idea that we were the only ones who could "guide" the natives to full democracy. Hubris.



The situation in Afghanistan...

is and has always been wrapped up with ethnic and tribal politics that we never took properly into account. The Taliban are historically a Pashtun organization and have remained so. Their opponents, the former Northern Alliance (now the Second Resistance) are at their core a Tajik organization, but are much more ethnically diverse, even including Pashtuns (as well as Uzbeks and Hazaras.) It's tied back to long-term tribal struggles in Afghanistan that have been going on for centuries. You're right that we should have simply turned things over to the Northern Alliance back at the beginning of this, assuming that we'd done the original job of the invasion and rooted out al-Qaeda from their bases in the country. But we never did that, since the Bush II administration was much more interested in their Iraq invasion and never put the resources into Afghanistan to do the job. We could have achieved the objective, handed over control (such as it was) and gotten out in a year or so. Instead we embarked on the same ill-considered mission that seems to capture every foreign power that gets involved in Afghanistan and tried to do nation-building. It worked out just as well for us as it has for every other power that's tried it. Hubris indeed.

I'm kinda hoping they will

succeed enough to force the Taliban to keep a parliamentary government in charge. The Taliban would (very likely) control a supermajority of the seats, but it would be better than the Shura running everything.

Me too...

since the alternative is much worse. But the Taliban is going to have a much more difficult time of imposing its will on the country this time. 20 years of their absence from power has changed a lot and they won't be able to just set the clock back either. Not that this is in any way a justification for our long-term occupation and the ham-handed way we tried to prop up a corrupt and essentially baseless government, but with any luck we'll see a Taliban regime that has to moderate its excesses somewhat, regardless of how successful (or not) the Second Resistance is in keeping part of the country out of their control.