Even in the final days of Washington’s chaotic airlift in Afghanistan, Javed Habibi was getting phone calls from the U.S. government promising that the green card holder from Richmond, Virginia, his wife and their four daughters would not be left behind, Associated Press reports.
He was told to stay home and not worry, that they would be evacuated.
Late Monday, however, his heart sank as he heard that the final U.S. flights had left Kabul’s airport, followed by the blistering staccato sound of Taliban gunfire, celebrating what they saw as their victory over America.
“They lied to us,” Habibi said of the U.S. government. He is among hundreds of American citizens and green card holders stranded in the Afghan capital.
Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs, would not address individual cases but said all U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who could not get evacuation flights or were otherwise stranded had been contacted individually in the past 24 hours and told to expect further information about routes out once those have been arranged.
“We will communicate directly to them personalized instructions on what they should do, when they should do it, and how the United States government feels we are best positioned to help them do that,” added State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the evacuation effort despite the scenes of thousands of people jammed outside the gates at Kabul’s airport. He said between 100 and 200 remained in Afghanistan, promising that any American who wants to leave Afghanistan would be taken out.
For some of those who remain, however, the trauma of trying for nearly two weeks to get onto a U.S. plane is still harrowing.
Habibi, an electrician who has lived in Richmond since 2015 on a special immigration visa, had returned to Afghanistan for a visit on June 22 — the first time his family had been back since 2019. Their return flight was to have been Aug. 31.
About Aug. 18, Habibi said he got an email from the U.S. government saying that his family — all green card holders except for their youngest, who has a U.S. passport — would be evacuated.
Subsequent emails said he should take his family to the airport. He obeyed, but the mad crush of people prevented him from getting near the gate on his first two attempts.
His daughter, Madina, who at 15 has flawless English and serves as the family spokesperson, said she and her younger sister were almost trampled at the airport. The family wrote back, “It’s too dangerous. We can’t go into the crowd,” she said.
The emails kept arriving, saying they should go to the airport, she said.
Trump Announces His Own Social Media
Former United States of America President, Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he’s launching Trump Media & Technology Group, TMTG, and a “Truth Social” app as a rival to the Big Tech companies that have shut him out and denied him the megaphone that was paramount to his national rise.
The announcement came nine months after Trump was expelled from social media for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Experts were split on how strong a competitor Trump Media & Technology Group can be, but the stock market reacted with exuberance.
TMTG’s plan is to become a publicly listed company through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a type of company whose sole purpose is to acquire a private company and take it public.
Shares of Digital World Acquisition quadrupled Thursday in what some might see as validation for Trump, even though there’s a ways to go before the merger is completed.
“I’m personally not a Trump supporter, but this could lead to giant media presence,” said investor Ryan Joshua Keenan, who put $2,000 into the stock early Thursday morning and had already tripled the money by the early afternoon. “It’s been going up ridiculously.”
Trump has spoken about launching his own social media site ever since he was barred from Twitter and Facebook. An earlier effort to launch a blog on his existing website was abandoned after the page drew dismal views.
“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “This is unacceptable.”
Conservative voices actually do well on traditional social media. On Wednesday, half of Facebook’s 10 top performing link posts were from conservative media, commentators or politicians, according to a daily list compiled by a New York Times technology columnist and an internet studies professor using Facebook’s own data.
TMTG has not set its sights low. In addition to the Truth Social app, which is expected to soft-launch next month with a nationwide rollout early next year, the company says it is planning a video-on-demand service dubbed TMTG+ that will feature entertainment programming, news and podcasts.
One slide in a TMTG presentation on its website includes a graphic of its potential competitors, which range from Facebook and Twitter to Netflix and Disney+ to CNN. The same slide suggests that over the long term TMTG will also become a power in cloud computing and payments and suggests it will go head-to-head with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Stripe.
A Trump-branded social media portal would join a crowded space dominated by Big Tech-run portals like Facebook and Twitter. Still, everyday social media users tend to be on multiple platforms at once, so TMTG’s offering doesn’t have to necessarily peel users from other portals to thrive.
“This network will most likely be most successful in targeting far-right users, the same that left Facebook for ‘alternative’ social networks like Gab or Parler,” said Alexandra Cirone, assistant professor in government at Cornell University.
Trump’s new media outlet could also compete for viewers on conservative networks such as OANN, Newsmax and Fox News, she said.
Ali Mogharabi, senior equity analyst at Morningstar, who covers Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies, said Trump’s brand could initially give TMTG a leg up relative to other new social media sites going up against Facebook and other big players.
“Whether that’s going to be sustainable in the long run, that’s very uncertain.”
Mogharabi said next year’s mid-term elections could be pivotal in whether the social media platform succeeds.
“A lot of Trump supporters would probably go on there. Even more so in 2024, if Trump actually decides to run for president. Those types of future events could actually attract more users.”
For now, the deal is attracting stock traders. Shares of Digital World Acquisition soared $35.34, or 357%, to $45.50, and changed hands more than 475 million times. That compares with average trading volume of about 11 million shares for Twitter, which trade at around $65.
Digital World Acquisition, based in Miami, is a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Such publicly traded companies are designed to list the shares of a private company more quickly than a traditional initial public offering. In practice, that means the SPAC acquires a private firm and then changes its name and other details to those of the acquired firm.
“It’s been many, many months since there’s been a SPAC merger greeted with this amount of enthusiasm,” said Jay Ritter, a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in initial public offerings.
A SPAC pays for an acquisition with cash from its own initial public offering. DWA completed its initial public offering on Sept. 8. DWA said it has raised roughly $293 million in cash, which it will use to grow TMTG’s ventures.
The enthusiasm from investors came even though the SPAC deal was unusual in several ways. Announcements of such deals typically are accompanied by the actual merger agreement and a presentation to investors full of numbers and data.
In this one, the merger agreement was not there. And the “Company Overview” of TMTG on its website is light on details about its structure and finances.
“I don’t know enough to say it’s unprecedented, but it’s weird. Given a lot of things that happen with Trump are not great with details and formalities, it’s perhaps not surprising, but it’s not the norm in SPACs,” said Michael Ohlrogge, an assistant professor of law at New York University who researches SPACs.
Until the deal is completed, TMTG would not have access to the cash raised by the SPAC. And without additional details from the companies, it’s unclear what Trump’s role will be and how much he’ll be compensated.
The deal has an initial enterprise value, which measures total debts and assets, of $875 million, according to Wednesday’s announcement. Experts say it could take up to six months for the deal to close.
Digital World Acqusition is currently run by CEO Patrick Orlando, a Miami-based founder of the Benessere Investment Group. He owns 18% of Digital World’s stock, according to a recent regulatory filing.
Orlando has experience taking at least three SPACs public. One company, Yunhong International, had planned to buy a marketer of “carbon neutral” fuel cells and batteries, but a press release issued last month said the deal had been canceled without giving a reason.
Orlando declined to comment about Trump’s potential role in the new company to The Associated Press on Thursday, pointing the public statements, which provide no detail.
The last time Trump ran a publicly traded company, it didn’t end up well for investors. His casino company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, lost hundreds of millions of dollars over more than a dozen years and filed for bankruptcy several times, socking shareholders with big losses. Trump fared better. He took in $82 million in fees, salary and bonuses over the same period, according to Fortune magazine.
Former US Secretary Of state Dies Of COVID-19
Former US secretary of state, Colin Powell has died.
A statement from his family said the 84-year-old died from Covid-19 complications, CNN reports.
The family lamented that they lost a remarkable and loving husband, adding that he was fully vaccinated before he passed on.
”General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American and he was fully vaccinated before he got infected with the virus,” the statement said.
Prior to his death, Powell was the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several Republican administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st.
Insecurity: UK Govt Warns Citizens Against Travelling To 12 States In Nigeria [See List]
The United Kingdom (UK) has warned its citizens against travelling to twelve states in Nigeria over insecurity issues.
This was disclosed in a travel advisory published by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The UK government warned its citizens of a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria for ideological, financial or political gain.
Citizens have been warned to stay away from these twelve states; Borno, Yobe, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, Zamfara, and Adamawa states.
The FCDO also advised its citizens against all but essential travel to Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa , Niger, Sokoto, Kogi within 20km of the border with Niger in Kebbi and Abia States respectively.
Part of the advisory read: “Foreign nationals, including humanitarian workers, are likely targets for kidnap. Humanitarian hubs and humanitarian workers have been targeted during attacks in the North East, including Monguno, Borno State on 13 June 2020.
“The security environment in the North East has deteriorated since 2018 and there is a heightened risk of kidnapping of humanitarian and private sector workers.
“There are also reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) have an active plan to kidnap foreigners. As well as in North-East Nigeria, extremist groups operate in some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states.
“If you are working or travelling in these States then you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping.”
The UK government, highlighting the level of insecurity in the country, also warned against attacks and killings in South-East regions.
“There have also been a number of attacks and targeted killings in the South-east and South-South regions of Nigeria, including in the states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Ebonyi. Some of these attacks have been on isolated roads and in remote locations, but there is a chance that they could occur in metropolitan areas,” the advisory read.
The government advised those travelling to those regions to be careful and follow local news and information outlets for further information, including on local curfews.
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