US pulling troops out of Kabul airport after devastating attack, two ‘high profile’ ISIS targets killed – Pentagon

The US is reducing its troop presence at Kabul airport, ahead of the planned American departure date and following a devastating suicide attack. The Pentagon claims to have killed two “high profile” terrorists in response.

The US has started to pull its troops out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Saturday. While some 5,800 American troops were stationed there at the peak of the US’ evacuation mission, that number had dwindled on Saturday to below 4,000, Reuters reported. The Pentagon will no longer provide updates on troop numbers.

The pullout comes as the US’ planned withdrawal date of August 31 draws closer, but also in the aftermath of a devastating suicide bombing that killed 13 American troops, two British nationals and some 90 Afghans, including 28 Taliban members.

Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), a regional offshoot of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), claimed responsibility for the attack. The US launched a drone strike early on Saturday morning in response, targeting an alleged “planner” behind the bombing.

The US strike killed an ISIS-K “planner,” and another “facilitator,” as well as wounding another member, Kirby told reporters on Saturday. “The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the Earth, that’s a good thing,” Kirby added. “It’s a good thing for the people of Afghanistan.”

Kirby said that the US would not release the names of the two men killed. He also refused to confirm or deny eyewitness reports that US troops opened fire on Afghan civilians in the chaotic aftermath of the suicide bombing.

ISIS-K and the Taliban share a hardline interpretation of Islam, but the groups are bitter adversaries. However, as the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan from the Afghan National Army over the last month, its fighters sprung droves of inmates from jails seized along the way. While many of these inmates – under American supervision until the recent US pullout – were Taliban members, others were ISIS-K fighters, now believed to be at large throughout the country.

“Thousands” of ISIS-K prisoners were let loose, Kirby told reporters on Friday. The Pentagon spokesman blamed the Afghan military for the jailbreaks, saying that “they did have responsibility for those prisons and the bases at which those prisons were located…and unfortunately those were the bases the Afghans didn’t hold.”

Though the Taliban and ISIS-K are opposing factions, the Taliban condemned the US drone strike. A spokesman for the militant group told Reuters that “the Americans should have informed us before conducting the air strike, it was a clear attack on Afghan territory.” The Taliban claimed on Friday to have arrested three ISIS-K members involved in the airport attack.

Kirby told reporters that the US still plans on completing its final withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31. “Nothing has changed about the timeline,” he said.

As of Thursday, some 1,500 Americans remained unevacuated in Kabul, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Also speaking at Saturday’s press conference, Major General Hank Taylor said that out of more than 117,000 evacuees flown out of Kabul since the US evacuation began, “the vast majority” were Afghan refugees and Special Immigrant Visa applicants. Approximately 5,400 were American citizens.

Source

Pakistan intends to run Taliban govt in Afghanistan through Haqqani network: Experts

With the Haqqani commanders in Afghanistan being assigned important responsibilities in the last few days ever since the Taliban takeover of the war-torn nation on August 15, experts feel that Pakistan wants to run the Taliban government and will have a major say in the important decisions taken by the Afghan militia in the days to come.

Leaders such as Khalil-ul-Rehman Haqqani has been appointed as the new security chief of Kabul, while the son of Haqqani network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, Abdul Aziz Abbasin, has been given the charge of managing the supplies of arms and ammunition to Taliban troopers who have been trying to get control of the Panjshir valley.

Referring to the series of new responsibilities given to important commanders of the Haqqani network, experts said that Pakistan would try to dominate the important decisions in the war-torn nation.

They also admitted that the Taliban at this juncture will not open a channel of confrontation with any of the other militant groups operating in the region, including Al Qaeda.

Noting that the Haqqani network and the Taliban, in general, have been the domain of the Pakistani military and its intelligence wing ISI since the late 1980s, former diplomat Anil Trigunayat said that they fought with the US, Saudi Arabia, and the Soviet Union in the past and since then, they have been closely connected with the Pakistani design.

“The Haqqani network is a key of Pakistan to hold the Taliban. It is also one of the groups which are against India and have been trained totally by Pakistan. It takes most of the decisions on the behest of Pakistan,” Trigunayat said.

The Haqqani network is a powerful group that is part of the Taliban but takes instructions from Islamabad, and the Taliban are not in a position to stop them, he added.

Similar views were expressed by defense expert Major General G.D. Bakshi (Retd), who said that Pakistan has been using the Haqqani group, Taliban, and other terror outfits to destroy Afghanistan. Now that the new Taliban have seized power there, Pakistan wants to play a pivotal role in Afghanistan, he said.

“Pakistan is trying to play smartly and it will pressurize the new administrative set up through the Haqqani network to have an important say in the governance of Afghanistan indirectly,” Bakshi said.

Another West Asia expert, Nishikant Dubey, said that within the Taliban, there are two groups — Pak Taliban and Afghan Taliban.

Pak Taliban comprises Al Qaeda and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which are in direct control of Pakistan and the ISI has been providing them all aid such as weapons, medical assistance, and free access to the country for long. Therefore, they will be working on the instructions of Pakistan, Dubey said.

“ISI is also pushing its trained terrorists to join the Taliban forces which are evident from the rising number of Taliban militia, which rose from 70,000 to around 1,10,000 in the last six or seven days,” Dubey said.

The Haqqani network is based out of North Waziristan in Pakistan and has been operating along the Afghan border since the 1980s.

Source

Protests in Berlin for and against coronavirus restrictions

BERLIN (AP) — Protesters filled the German capital again on Saturday to demonstrate against the government’s coronavirus measures, despite bans against several gatherings.

Police had banned nine planned demonstrations for Saturday, including one from the Stuttgart-based Querdenker movement, the most visible anti-lockdown movement in Germany, which united a disparate mix of those opposing vaccinations, coronavirus deniers and right-wing extremists. A court ruled in favor of allowing one event, planned for 500 people, on Saturday and Sunday.

Still, like the last round of protests in early August, thousands ignored the bans and turned out to voice their opposition to government measures. With chants of “We are the people!” the protesters made their way through Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte neighborhoods.

More than 2,000 police officers were stationed around the city to respond to those who showed up despite the bans. At one protest Saturday evening in Mitte, German media reported that police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd unwilling to leave once the protest had ended. The crowd eventually thinned as it began to rain.

Meanwhile, a counter-protest complete with techno music drew a crowd of several thousand as well. Those demonstrators back government restrictions to slow the spread of virus and oppose the Querdenker movement, stressing Berlin’s diversity and advocating for more social cohesion.

Berlin police said they dispersed the counter-protesters when the crowd became too big to allow for social distancing.

The Saturday protests came amid a debate in Germany about whether to impose restrictions on unvaccinated people, a question taking on more urgency as daily infections rise. Germany reported 10,303 new daily infections on Saturday, up more than 2,000 since last week.

Similar protests took place in Berlin in early August, which ended in clashes with police and hundreds of people detained.

___

Follow all AP stories on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

N Korea’s Kim looks much thinner, causing health speculation

The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long been a source of morbid fascination in rival South Korea, which sits in the shadow of Kim’s 1.2-million-strong army and his growing arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles.

Has he gained even more weight? Is he struggling for breath after relatively short walks? What about that cane? Why did he miss that important state anniversary?

Now, the 37-year-old faces fresh speculation in the South about his health again. But this time, it’s because he’s noticeably slimmer.

Kim’s health matters in Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and other world capitals because he hasn’t publicly anointed a successor who would control an advancing nuclear program targeting the United States and its allies — if he is incapacitated. North Korea, never open about the internal workings of its leadership, has over the last year shut itself up even tighter to protect against the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent state media images, including those published on Wednesday, Kim appeared to have lost a large amount of weight. The strap on his fancy watch is tighter, and his face thinner. Some observers say Kim — who is about 170 centimeters (5 feet, 8 inches) tall and has previously weighed 140 kilograms (308 pounds) — may have lost about 10-20 kilograms (22-44 pounds).

Kim’s apparent weight loss is more likely an attempt to improve his health, rather than a sign of illness, according to Hong Min, a senior analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification.

“If he was experiencing health problems, he wouldn’t have come out in public to convene the plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee,” a major political conference this week that is expected to last two to three days, Hong said.

Kim, known for heavy drinking and smoking, comes from a family with a history of heart problems. His father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, both died of heart issues. Experts have said his weight could increase the possibility of cardiovascular diseases.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it has no information to share about Kim’s health. His slimmer look has been the focus of keen interest in South Korea, with media outlets publishing photos of his previous and current appearances.

Seo Yu-Seok at the Seoul-based Institute of North Korean Studies said the North’s recent creation of a first secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party, the country’s No. 2 job, might have been related to Kim’s possible health issues. He said Kim may have allowed the post’s establishment at the urging of top officials but still hasn’t named anyone to the job because it could loosen his grip on power.

“If Kim faces a real health problem and is in a condition in which he can’t express his opinions, though he isn’t dead, who will make a decision to name the first secretary?” Seo said.

When global speculation flared about Kim’s health last year after he missed the commemoration of the birthday of his late grandfather, some analysts speculated Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was next in line to inherit her brother’s power. Others said a collective leadership was also possible.

Face to face: Biden, Putin ready for long-anticipated summit

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin sit down Wednesday for their highly anticipated summit in the Swiss city of Geneva, a moment of high-stakes diplomacy at a time when both leaders agree that relations between their countries are at an all-time low.

For four months, the two leaders have traded sharp rhetoric. Biden repeatedly called out Putin for malicious cyberattacks by Russian-based hackers on U.S. interests, a disregard for democracy with the jailing of Russia’s foremost opposition leader and interference in American elections.

Putin, for his part, has reacted with whatabout-isms and obfuscations — pointing to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to argue that the U.S. has no business lecturing on democratic norms and insisting that the Russian government hasn’t been involved in any election interference or cyberattacks despite U.S. intelligence showing otherwise.

Now, the pair will meet for their first face-to-face as leaders — a conversation that is expected to last four to five hours. In advance, both sides set out to lower expectations.

Even so, Biden has said it would be an important step if the United States and Russia were able to ultimately find “stability and predictability” in their relationship, a seemingly modest goal from the president for dealing with the person he sees as one of America’s fiercest adversaries.

“We should decide where it’s in our mutual interest, in the interest of the world, to cooperate, and see if we can do that,” Biden told reporters earlier this week. “And the areas where we don’t agree, make it clear what the red lines are.”

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that no breakthroughs were expected and that “the situation is too difficult in Russian-American relations.””

“However, the fact that the two presidents agreed to meet and finally start to speak openly about the problems is already an achievement,” Peskov said several hours before the summit’s scheduled start time.

Arrangements for the meeting have been carefully choreographed and vigorously negotiated by both sides.

Biden first floated the meeting in an April phone call in which he informed Putin that he would be expelling several Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions against dozens of people and companies, part of an effort to hold the Kremlin accountable for interference in last year’s presidential election and the hacking of federal agencies.

Putin and his entourage will arrive first at the summit site: Villa La Grange, a grand lakeside mansion set in Geneva’s biggest park. Next come Biden and his team. Swiss President Guy Parmelin will greet the two leaders.

The three will spend a moment together in front of the cameras, but only Parmelin is expected to make remarks, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.

Biden and Putin first will hold a relatively intimate meeting joined by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Each side will have a translator.

The meeting will then expand to include five senior aides on each side.

After the meeting concludes, Putin is scheduled to hold a solo news conference, with Biden following suit. The White House opted against a joint news conference, deciding it did not want to appear to elevate Putin at a moment when the president is urging European allies to pressure Putin to cut out myriad provocations.

Biden sees himself with few peers on foreign policy. He traveled the globe as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was given difficult foreign policy assignments by President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president. His portfolio included messy spots like Iraq and Ukraine and weighing the mettle of China’s Xi Jinping during his rise to power.

He has repeatedly said that he believes executing effective foreign policy comes from forming strong personal relations, and he has managed to find rapport with both the likes of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom Biden has labeled an “autocrat,” and conventional politicians like Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

But with Putin, whom the president has “no soul,” Biden has long been wary. At the same time, he acknowledges that Putin, who remained the most powerful figure in Russian politics over the span of five U.S. presidents, is not without talent. Biden this week suggested that he is approaching his meeting with Putin carefully.

“He’s bright. He’s tough,” Biden said. “And I have found that he is a — as they say…a worthy adversary.”

The White House held on to hope of finding small areas of agreement.

No commitments have been made, but according to the senior administration official, there are hopes that both sides will return their ambassadors to their respective postings following the meeting. Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, was recalled from Washington about three months ago after Biden called Putin a killer; U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow almost two months ago, after Russia suggested he return to Washington for consultations.

Both ambassadors will be in Geneva during Wednesday’s meeting.

Biden administration officials say they think common ground can be found on arms control. International arms control groups are pressing the Russian and American leaders to start a push for new arms control by holding “strategic stability” talks — a series of government-to-government discussions meant to sort through the many areas of disagreement and tension on the national security front.

The Biden team will press its concerns on cybersecurity. In recent months, Russia-based hackers have launched alarming attacks on a major U.S. oil pipeline and a Brazil-headquartered meat supplier that operates in the U.S.

The Russian side has said that the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is an internal political matter and one area where Putin won’t engage Biden. But the senior Biden administration official said there “is no issue that is off the table for the president,” suggesting Navalny will come up.

The meeting is sure to invite comparisons with President Donald Trump’s 2018 meeting with Putin in Helsinki, where the two leaders held a joint news conference and Trump sided with Russian denials when asked whether Moscow had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Biden has prepared for his one-on-one by reviewing materials and consulting with officials across government and with outside advisers. Aides said the level of preparation wasn’t unusual. Biden, in a brief exchange with reporters upon a rriving in Geneva on Tuesday night, sought to offer the impression that he wasn’t sweating his big meeting.

“I am always ready,” Biden said.

___

Contributing: Associated Press video journalist Daniel Kozin contributed reporting

—-

This story has been corrected to show that Geneva is not Switzerland’s capital.

‘No Sunday Law, No Great Controversy, No End-time Prophet and the Mark of the Beast is Undetermined’

Dr. Jon Paulien is a professor at the Loma Linda University School of Religion. At a recent church-sponsored symposium about the end time prophetic events, Dr. Paulien said that Sunday Laws are not coming, the Great Controversy is outdated, there are other options for the mark of the beast and Ellen White was not an end-time prophet.

The presentation was entitled “The Coming Sunday Law Dilemma” featuring Dr. Jon Paulien. However, the “coming Sunday law dilemma” was not about the crisis our world would soon face; no, the “dilemma” that Dr. Paulien was inferring was that there was no Sunday law forthcoming.

What about the mark of the beast? Well, the new contemporary interpretation about the “Mark of the Beast,” according to Dr. Paulien, is that the text of Revelation describes a “counterfeit” and not specifically “Sunday,” and there are many options when interpreting a counterfeit. It can mean “any day” or it can mean “no days.” Do you see what is happening? They are rewriting the message of the mark of the beast. The contemporary church is attempting to remake the movement founded by our pioneers. We are witnessing a scenario in which anything remotely resembling historic Adventism is being eliminated, turned upside down or corrupted.

Then Dr. Pauline said the following about the book Great Controversy and Sunday laws: “The idea of a world-wide Sunday law made a lot of sense back then. The world was quite different than today. So we should not assume that after the passage of more than one hundred and fifty years that every detail would necessarily be fulfilled … Great Controversy fits perfectly with exactly what was happening in the world in the 1880s…If God was giving a prophecy today it wouldn’t sound like what was given back then because we are in a different world.

Dr. Paulien is only affirming what many of our leaders already believe. His statements are a reflection of what Ted Wilson and other church leaders have already embraced. This explains why things are the way they are and why the Great Hope has replaced the Great Controversy. Seventh-day Adventists have reached a watershed moment at this point in history. We must choose between the paths before us. Will the Spirit of Prophecy be believed and obeyed, as revealed in the Great Controversy book? Will we cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land? Or will we believe these scholars who tell us that they know more than the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord and who are leading us not only to Egypt, but into the hands of Rome?

Contact: Andy Roman, Publisher
Address: Advent Messenger, PO Box 96, Dover, OK 73734
Phone: (888) 299-2119

About: Advent Messenger provides news and commentary on current events, top stories, social trends and political and religious events.

EHA:Eficacia de la vacuna Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b2 en pacientes que reciben CAR-T

La vacuna Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b2 ha sido aprobada para la prevención del síndrome respiratorio agudo severo por coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) y se recomienda para pacientes inmunosuprimidos. Sin embargo, su eficacia y seguridad en pacientes sometidos a terapia celular inmunológica no han sido bien documentadas. En este estudio, evaluamos la eficacia y seguridad de la vacuna BNT162b2 en pacientes que se sometieron a trasplante de células hematopoyéticas (HCT) y terapia con receptor de antígeno quimérico (CAR) -T. Seguimos prospectivamente a 79 pacientes vacunados que fueron tratados activamente en el Centro Médico Sourasky de Tel Aviv y monitoreamos el perfil de seguridad y la respuesta inmune humoral a la vacuna.

En general, la vacuna fue bien tolerada y todos los efectos secundarios se resolvieron en unos pocos días, excepto un rechazo secundario del injerto, que aún está bajo investigación. Observamos que solo el 36% de los pacientes que recibieron terapia CAR-T desarrollaron una respuesta humoral de anticuerpos en comparación con el 81% de los pacientes que se sometieron a un HCT alogénico. Además, los pacientes con aplasia de células B y los que recibieron la vacuna poco después de la infusión de células tenían menos probabilidades de desarrollar anticuerpos. Tomados en conjunto, estos datos demuestran que la respuesta humoral a la vacuna BNT162b2 está significativamente alterada en los pacientes que reciben CAR-T, a diferencia de aquellos después de un HCT alogénico que tuvieron una buena respuesta.

Presentador: Profesor Ron Ram

Afiliación: BMT Unit, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel

Abstract: #S285 SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF THE BNT162B2 MRNA COVID-19 VACCINE IN PATIENTS AFTER ALLOGENEIC HCT AND CD19-BASED CAR-T THERAPY – A SINGLE CENTER PROSPECTIVE COHORT STUDY

Acerca del Congreso anual de EHA: Cada junio, la EHA organiza su Congreso Anual en una de las principales ciudades europeas. Este año, debido a la persistente pandemia de COVID19, EHA organiza un Congreso virtual por segunda vez. El Congreso está dirigido a profesionales de la salud que trabajen o estén interesados en el campo de la hematología. Los temas del programa científico van desde la fisiología y el desarrollo de las células madre hasta la leucemia; linfoma diagnostico y tratamiento; las células rojas de la sangre; trastornos de los glóbulos blancos y las plaquetas; hemofilia y mieloma; trombosis y trastornos hemorrágicos; así como transfusión y trasplante de células madre.

The Ad Council and USDA Forest Service Encourage Families to Make the Forest Part of Their Story

Ahead of National Get Outdoors Day on June 12, the USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council today announced new public service advertisements (PSAs) from the Discover the Forest campaign. Since 2009, the Ad Council and USDA Forest Service’s Discover the Forest campaign has encouraged parents and caregivers to take their families out to the forest to experience and reconnect with nature. The new creative work highlights the power of authentic storytelling to showcase the value of the forest as a place where families can deepen their connection with each other and with the outdoors. The PSAs culminate in a singular ask: make the forest part of your family’s story.

“In these times, we are excited that so many families are visiting the outdoors and reconnecting with each other, themselves, and nature,” said Tinelle Bustam, Director, Conservation Education, Forest Service, State and Private Forestry at the USDA Forest Service. “We are deeply grateful to the storytelling artists for their depictions of the forests and family connection. We look forward to engaging families in making the forest part of their story through this campaign.”

This newest creative installment was developed pro bono by David&Goliath, in partnership with multidisciplinary artists Joe Cepeda and Shabazz Larkin. Cepeda and Larkin crafted culturally resonant stories, respectively, for Latino and Black audiences, which serve as the basis of the PSAs. “Our Colors,” written by Cepeda, illustrates how nature inspires art and links us through generations. Larkin’s story entitled “Am I A Tree?” showcases the lessons that humans can learn from trees about how to live and grow. Custom illustrations by Cepeda and Larkin also appear throughout the PSAs. The full suite of assets (including TV, radio, print, outdoor and digital banners) will be available in English and Spanish.

The creative aims to reach all parents and caregivers, with an emphasis on fostering a sense of connection to and belonging in nature among Black and Latino families. While participation in outdoor recreation has increased among Black and Hispanic Americans over the last decade, current participation rates still do not reflect our diverse population in the U.S., and Black and Hispanic Americans remain underrepresented outside.1

“Over the last year, we’ve seen the outdoors become a place of respite for families, and as we head into summer, we know many are eager to continue enjoying and exploring nature,” said Michelle Hillman, Chief Campaign Development Officer at the Ad Council. “This newest iteration of Discover the Forest amplifies authentic and impactful storytelling from two talented artists to help ensure that everyone can envision making the forest part of their family’s story.”

The latest iteration of Discover the Forest also includes a Digital Storybook activity. This new tool allows parents and caregivers to select one of the stories created by Cepeda and Larkin and upload their own family photographs, creating a unique digital memory book capturing their experiences in the forest. In addition to “Am I A Tree?” and “Our Colors,” the Digital Storybook includes two other stories from Larkin and Cepeda, respectively: “We’ve Got the World in Our Hands,” which explores our role as protectors and keepers of nature, and “Stories in the Stars,” which illustrates how we are connected to our ancestors through the stars.

“The stories I wrote for this campaign came partially through craft and partially from personal experience,” said Cepeda. “As a family, we have spent time out in the woods, in the desert and under starry skies. I hope audiences will be able to relate to the feelings my own family has experienced when we venture out – the perspective we get from looking out over a canyon or standing at the foot of a redwood tree. Nature reminds us that we’re stronger and more resourceful than we may realize, and we all need to do a better job of caring for the places we live.”

“My hope in writing these stories is two-fold,” said Larkin. “I hope people will find trust in their joy – to go to the forest with no other intention but to play. I also hope that this campaign reminds everyone that Earth is home for all humans. Little Black boys and girls need to know that the earth is our inheritance just as anyone else and protecting our inheritance is our work, too.”

“We wanted to take this campaign a step further than just creating another set of PSAs and really provide a genuine connection to the forest that would resonate with our target audience,” said Lixaida Lorenzo, Executive Creative Director, David&Goliath. “From this sentiment, Joe and Shabazz crafted these unique stories that our audiences can relate to in an immediate and visceral way. Stories that just don’t talk to them, but belong to them.”

Creative agency partner Wordsworth + Booth is developing additional radio assets to extend this new round of PSAs, with creative that also uses storytelling to demonstrate how the forest can bring imagination to life and allow families to connect in their own unique ways.

Across all PSAs, audiences are directed to DiscoverTheForest.org and DescubreElBosque.org, where they can search for nearby forests, parks and trails and where they’ll find ideas for outdoor-focused activities. The new PSAs will run nationwide in time and space donated by the media, per the Ad Council’s model.

To find a forest, park or trail near you, visit DiscoverTheForest.org, and follow Discover the Forest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Ad Council
The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation’s most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels.

The Ad Council’s innovative social good campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.org, follow the Ad Council’s communities on Facebook and Twitter and view the creative on YouTube.

USDA Forest Service
The Forest Service is the agency responsible for overseeing the use of Smokey Bear in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council. The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands for the American Public. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

CGTN: La educación en la lucha de China contra la pobreza: que nadie se quede atrás

Un viejo refrán chino dice: “para cavar un pozo, comienzas con un hueco pequeño y, con el tiempo, tendrás una fosa”. La frase significa que un viaje largo comienza con un solo paso. Fue extraída del tratado filosófico “Liu Zi · Chong Xue”, un libro escrito hace aproximadamente 1.500 años.

El presidente chino Xi Jinping consideró que la educación era el primer paso fundamental para “cavar el pozo” de la erradicación de la pobreza absoluta en China, lo que se logró en 2020.

La escuela primaria Fuzhou Hope de Yangjialing en Yan’an, provincia de Shaanxi, en el noroeste de China, fue renovada en 1995 con donaciones por parte de la ciudad de Fuzhou, capital de la provincia suroriental de Fujian después de que Xi Jinping, entonces jefe del Partido en Fuzhou, alentara a los empresarios locales a colaborar en la construcción de escuelas en las regiones subdesarrolladas del país.

“No dejen que los niños pierdan estando en la línea de partida”, afirmó Xi cuando visitó la escuela en 2015 y destacó la educación como un factor clave en el desarrollo de las regiones pobres.

La escuela, que en algún momento de la historia empezó con un maestro y un aula acomodados en una cueva, ha cambiado rápidamente con el apoyo del gobierno y la sociedad. Ahora es un establecimiento de cuatro pisos equipado con modernas aulas multimedia en el cual los estudiantes pueden recibir almuerzos gratuitos.

Las estadísticas del Ministerio de Educación publicadas en 2020 muestran que la inversión total de China en educación, que incluye el suministro de alimentación gratuita y la mejora de las instalaciones escolares, aumentó en más de un 8 % anual durante los últimos tres años.

Según el informe técnico sobre la mitigación de la pobreza en China, publicado en abril de 2021, el país ha renovado 108.000 escuelas desde 2013 para fortalecer el modelo de educación obligatoria de nueve años en las zonas vulnerables.

“La reducción de la pobreza debe comenzar acabando con la ignorancia. Por lo tanto, brindar a los niños de las zonas rurales una buena educación es una tarea importante para mitigar la pobreza y también constituye una medida crucial para acabar con la transmisión intergeneracional de la pobreza”, sostuvo Xi.

En cuanto a la igualdad en la educación como base de la igualdad social, Xi Jinping ha destacado en muchas ocasiones la importancia de cerrar la brecha que existe en relación con los recursos educativos y la calidad entre las zonas rurales y urbanas.

Según el Ministerio de Educación, en el XIII Plan Quinquenal (2016-2020), el presupuesto central de China asignó alrededor de 749.500 millones de yuanes (114.600 millones de dólares estadounidenses) en subsidios para garantizar la educación obligatoria y el 90 % de esos fondos se invirtió en áreas rurales. Por ejemplo, a los estudiantes provenientes de familias rurales de bajos recursos se les concedió un subsidio de subsistencia gubernamental para apoyar sus estudios.

En el informe técnico de 2021 sobre la mitigación de la pobreza en China se afirma que no se han registrado cifras de abandono escolar en las zonas rurales causadas por dificultades financieras. La educación obligatoria de nueve años ahora es accesible para todos los niños de los hogares rurales de bajos recursos y la tasa de finalización en 2020 fue del 94,8 %.

A medida que China avanza en la digitalización de la educación, la infraestructura de la internet también ha contribuido a cerrar la brecha de la calidad de la educación entre las zonas urbanas y rurales: las escuelas de educación primaria y media de todo el país tienen conexión a internet.

Los estudiantes de la escuela primaria de Yangjialing Fuzhou Hope gozan del privilegio de tener “aulas de internet” mediante las cuales la escuela utiliza la red para compartir clases en tiempo real con las escuelas asociadas de las grandes ciudades.

También se han aprovechado las políticas favorables para matricular a más estudiantes de bajos recursos, ampliar las oportunidades de empleo de los graduados y ayudar a los estudiantes a superar la pobreza a través de la educación técnica.

Más de 8 millones de graduados de escuelas de educación media y secundaria provenientes de familias de bajos recursos han recibido formación técnica; otros 5,14 millones de estudiantes han recibido educación superior, y algunas instituciones clave de enseñanza superior han admitido a unos 700.000 estudiantes provenientes de varias zonas rurales y vulnerables designadas.

The new guy? Biden debuts at democracy’s most exclusive club

Angela, Boris, Emmanuel, Justin, Mario, Yoshihide and a relative newcomer: Joe.

They’re the board of global democracy’s most exclusive club, and they’re meeting this week after four years of U.S. disruption and a two-year coronavirus interruption.

Already on a first-name basis with relationships that range from just months to years, the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies are gathering Friday amid hopes that the departure of their most unruly member and a new era of personal friendships enhanced by face-to-face discussions can restore a global anti-authoritarian consensus on climate, the coronavirus, China and Russia.

The G-7’s return to polite quasi-normality comes as President Joe Biden seeks to restore steady U.S. leadership to the bloc, which had been hamstrung by his predecessor Donald Trump’s often confrontational approach to longtime American allies. U.S. officials believe Biden’s decadeslong experience in foreign policy combined with his personal skills and folksy demeanor will ease lingering resentments.

Trump had thrown a wrench into G-7 unity, demanding the absolute prioritization of U.S. interests, threatening decades-old security guarantees, insulting colleagues and loudly suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin be invited back into the group despite his refusal to meet demands for Moscow to stay out of Ukraine.

Biden aims to take a new tack. Asked about his goals upon departing from Washington, Biden replied: “Strengthening the alliance and make it clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight, and the G-7 is going to move.”

Of the seven leaders meeting Friday in Britain’s southwest Cornwall, two are newbies. Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi took office within weeks of each other this year.

Two others have been in power for two years or less: Britain’s Boris Johnson since 2019, and Japan’s Yoshihide Suga since 2020. Yet the other three have a long history together, some of them with Biden dating to his days in the Senate and as vice president.

Germany’s Angela Merkel will be attending her last G-7 summit before stepping down as chancellor in September after 16 years. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in office since 2015 and French President Emmanuel Macron since 2017. All had famously testy relations with Trump over trade, defense spending, climate change and other issues.

Trump once accused Trudeau of being “very dishonest and weak” in the context of a G-7 summit. He frequently disparaged Merkel and Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May in similar terms and denounced Macron’s skepticism of NATO abilities as “nasty” and “insulting.” Johnson was the exception, as Trump saw him as a kindred iconoclastic spirit.

The open hostility hindered the group’s ability to present a unified front. Biden hopes to soothe those relations on his first overseas trip as president.

Since taking office, Biden has met in person with only one of his G-7 counterparts, Suga. But in virtual sessions and phone calls, he has sought to build on his personal connections with the others and has said he wants more in-person meetings.

“There’s no substitute for face-to-face discussions,” Biden told Suga when they met at the White House in April. “Those personal bonds of friendship and connection, they’re the ones that are going to keep this alliance strong and vibrant for decades to come.”

Good relations “make it easier to do business,” said Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy and a retired three-time U.S. ambassador.

“You won’t find that people will act against what they perceive as their interests just because they’re friends, but it does mean that it’s easier to have conversations to explore whether there are ways to bring interests closer together,” he said.

That didn’t happen in the Trump years. “My sense is that we were not very interested in exploring areas for compromise — we were interested in getting, or rather telling, the others to do things our way,” Neumann said.

As Biden has pursued some policies identical to Trump’s, he has met far less resistance than his predecessor did, notably winning support for the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Just weeks before Biden announced he had decided to generally stick with Trump’s pullout plan, U.S. allies had warned against any precipitous moves.

Similarly, Biden’s reversal of Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada was met with only a muted response from Ottawa amid the new president’s outreach to Trudeau. “The United States has no closer friend — no closer friend — than Canada. That’s why you were my first call as president,” Biden told Trudeau.

On Wednesday, though, the sponsor of Keystone XL pulled the plug on the project after Canadian officials failed to persuade Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit on the day he took office.

Biden and Macron will be meeting for the first time in person, and French officials said Macron is eager to build on discussions they have had by phone and video. A centrist, Macron did not hide that he was counting on Biden’s election to bring the United States’ positions closer to France’s over the Paris climate accord, a minimum global corporate tax and global security issues.

But, perhaps, no G-7 leader has been a greater beneficiary than Merkel, the doyenne of the group. Biden slapped a hold on Trump’s decision to reduce the U.S. military presence in Germany and used a national security waiver to avoid hitting a German company and its CEO with sanctions over a controversial pipeline.

“It’s a basic truth of foreign policy that each country has its own values and interests. But then there is of course also the hard-to-measure factor of understanding that can form between two sides’ leaders — or sometimes doesn’t form,” said Merkel spokesperson Steffen Seibert. “And of course it’s better if it does form, if one does have a common culture of dialogue, if one listens to each other, if one also tries to understand the other person’s stance and convictions.”

Johnson, meanwhile, is keen to ensure Biden remains committed to Washington-London comity, especially as he continues to seek preferential post-Brexit trade status with America that had been all but guaranteed under Trump.

Trump had praised Johnson and Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union unequivocally, calling him “Britain’s Trump.” Biden had reacted in kind as a candidate, calling the British leader a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump. Still, the British government has worked hard to overcome that impression, stressing Johnson’s common ground with Biden on issues such as climate change and his support for international institutions.

___

Associated Press writers Sylvie Corbet in Paris, Rob Gilles in Toronto, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.