Published:

Afghanistan 1) Defiant Biden hails pullout as an extraordinary success…

“President Biden praised the “extraordinary success” of the Afghan withdrawal with a forceful defence of his decision to pull out troops and a pledge that the US would learn from its mistakes. In a speech from the White House, Biden proclaimed an end to an era of America using its military might to “remake” other countries and insisted that his advisers had been united on his timetable as he marked the end of 20 years of war. The speech was his latest attempt to overcome a barrage of criticism of his handling of the withdrawal, including from families of some of the 13 US troops killed in a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport last Thursday. Biden said that the war was no longer in the “vital interest of America” once al-Qaeda had been neutralised and its leader, Osama bin Laden, killed in 2011. “We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago. Then we stayed for another decade. It was time to end this war,” Biden said.” – The Times

  • Fighters celebrate amid the wreckage of Kabul’s airport after last US soldier leaves Afghanistan – The Times

Afghanistan 2) … as Britain opens talks with Taliban to bring home those left in the country

“Britain has opened talks with the Taliban about safeguarding the exit of Afghan and British citizens left in Afghanistan, The Times can disclose. Sir Simon Gass, the prime minister’s special representative for Afghan transition, has held discussions with the group’s representatives in Doha. It is the first British engagement with the Taliban in the wake of the West’s withdrawal as the UK attempts to secure the safe passage of thousands of Afghans who may be eligible to come to this country. Last night it was reported that before the British embassy in Kabul was evacuated, intelligence officers attached to the mission held meetings with the Taliban to confirm that Afghanistan would not be used as a base to launch terrorist attacks on the West.” – The Times

  • Raab blames Ministry of Defence over ‘clearly wrong’ intelligence – The Times
  • Afghans who worked for military granted permanent residency in the UK – The Times
  • UK pledge to take 20,000 Afghan refugees could create ‘pull effect for migrants’, Germany suggests as it rules out plans for an EU-wide target – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Afghanistan 3) Madeline Grant – The US may struggle to recover from Biden’s weakness

“As the last Nato planes lifted off from Kabul, the exultant Taliban lit up the sky with celebratory rockets and gunfire. The West’s retreat from Afghanistan has produced some surreal scenes; Taliban fighters, revelling in the high-tech equipment abandoned by US forces, pledged to turn Bagram Airbase into a terrorist training ground to defeat the West by jihad. America’s failure of nerve has handed the Taliban an entirely avoidable propaganda coup. They may be bloodthirsty zealots, but they understand the power of a striking image only too well. The Biden administration’s handling of this fiasco, by contrast, has been abysmal right to the end. It insisted that all US citizens would be evacuated by 31 August, but many have been left behind, along with thousands of Afghans who worked directly for them. Even the repatriation of the 13 US marines, slain in last week’s terror attack, attracted controversy.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 1) Falling Covid cases ease fears of new wave as schools return

“Coronavirus cases in England have been falling steadily for a week, prompting cautious optimism about the return to schools and offices this month. However, government scientific advisers remain concerned that England could follow Scotland, where infections are surging two weeks after pupils returned to class. Experts are struggling to predict what will happen over the next month, a crucial period as habits are expected to return closer to normality. Official figures yesterday showed that confirmed cases in England had fallen for the seventh day in a row, with 20,967 cases reported yesterday taking the seven-day rolling average to 24,889, down from 26,936 a week ago.” – The Times

Comment:

>Today:

Coronavirus 2) Care home bosses receiving ‘threatening’ union letters over compulsory vaccines

“Care home bosses are receiving “threatening” union letters over compulsory vaccines, amid claims that the embattled sector is in a “desperate” situation. As the deadline for the mandatory jab approaches, dozens of care providers across the country claim they have received requests for a formal grievance meeting on behalf of their staff who are refusing to be vaccinated against coronavirus. The formal letter, sent by the Workers Union of England, claims that the “requirement to vaccinate is invalid” and that managers “may be liable for the criminal offence of intimidation in the workplace”. The Government has ordered all care home staff to receive their first dose of a Covid vaccine by Sept 16 so they are fully vaccinated by the time the regulations come into force on Nov 11.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Introducing Covid passports will make vaccine sceptics more reluctant to get the jab rather than persuade them they should have it, study finds – Daily Mail

Coronavirus worldwide:

  • Police injured in lockdown protests sweeping Australia – The Times
  • Reports of Indian Covid deaths were greatly exaggerated – The Times

65,000 Hongkongers apply for British visas over five months

“More than 65,000 Hongkongers have applied for Britain’s bespoke five-year visa scheme, according to new figures. Between April and June, the Home Office received 30,600 applications for the immigration route for British National Overseas (BNO) citizens. The system, which offers up to 5.4 million Hongkongers a five-year visa and a path to permanent British citizenship, was opened on January 31 after China’s new security laws were introduced last year. The number of applications submitted in the second quarter of the year compares with 34,300 who applied in the first two months of the scheme. The Home Office has confirmed that more have applied since June, taking the total above 65,000. The Home Office expects about 300,000 to apply within the first five years of the scheme.” – The Times

No Channel migrants removed from UK this year as enforced returns hit record low

“None of the record 12,500 Channel migrants who have reached the UK so far this year have been removed, with official figures showing enforced returns of all illegal migrants are at a record low. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has been unable to remove Channel migrants even to “safe” third countries where they should have claimed asylum. France and other EU states are refusing to take migrants without new bilateral agreements to replace pre-Brexit arrangements under which migrants could be returned to countries through which they travelled and in which they should have claimed asylum. It comes as record numbers of migrants cross the Channel, with some 12,500 arriving so far this year – up from 8,400 in the whole of last year.” – Daily Telegraph

Environmentalism 1) Electric revolution set to usher in taxes for using roads

“Boris Johnson has hinted that drivers could face new taxes to use the roads as the government looks for ways to claw back £30 billion in income lost in the switch to electric cars. Traffic jams could paralyse the road network in coming years, a report said this week, with low-emission vehicles, which escape fuel duty, making it cheaper to drive. The report by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a think tank, recommends the introduction of road pricing. Motorists would be taxed on the size of their vehicle and the time they used the roads, with higher charges during peak hours. The report said that Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is facing a black hole of £30 billion in lost taxes because people in electric cars no longer pay fuel duty or vehicle excise duty.” – The Times

  • More than 40 per cent of tree species in Britain risk being wiped out – The Times

Analysis:

  • Who can use the new greener E10 petrol? – The Times

Comment:

Environmentalism 2) Extinction Rebellion protesters block London Bridge with bus

“Extinction Rebellion protesters shut down London Bridge on Tuesday after they chained themselves to the underside of a bus. An estimated 200 people gathered in the centre of London from 1.30pm, resulting in a number of streets near the bridge being closed for several hours. Around ten of the activists glued themselves to a bus that the group had brought along, which was parked in the middle of a road to stop any traffic from getting through. Some Extinction Rebellion members gave speeches about climate change and there was also a performance from a samba band as they obstructed the roads. An officer confirmed some people taking part in the protest were being arrested, and the road closures would be in place “for hours”.” – Daily Telegraph

Cholesterol jab on NHS to save 30,000 lives in world first

“Hundreds of thousands of NHS patients are to receive “game-changer” injections to lower their cholesterol levels, saving an estimated 30,000 lives within the next decade. Nurses in GP surgeries will administer twice-yearly jabs of inclisiran to 300,000 people over the next three years after approval by the medical watchdog. It is the first programme of its kind in the world. Health officials estimate that the drug could prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes over ten years. Under the deal between NHS England and the Swiss manufacturer Novartis, the scheme will begin within a month. Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, said: “The NHS is committed to using cutting-edge treatments to save and improve patients’ lives.” – The Times

Cameron in line for New York stock market payday

“David Cameron is set for another big payday from his work in the private sector as one of his employers considers a stock market listing in New York. Since 2019 the former prime minister has been chief adviser to Afiniti, a software company based in Bermuda. He is also understood to hold shares in it. Cameron, 54, was a part-time adviser to Greensill Capital, which entered administration earlier this year. He received about $10 million (£7.2 million) in cash and benefits over two and a half years, the BBC Panorama programme has said. Those who already hold an interest in Afiniti would stand to profit from a successful listing. Cameron is among them, according to the Daily Mail, which said he had a small stake. The precise size has not been disclosed and the business declined to say how many shares he had been granted since joining. Cameron’s office did not respond to a request for comment.” – The Times

Geronimo the alpaca culled after police swoop on farm

“Geronimo the alpaca was pulled from his pen and killed yesterday after police officers forced their way onto his owner’s farm. About 20 officers helped a team of vets catch the condemned male alpaca and force him into a horsebox. When police arrived, Helen Macdonald, 50, walked away from her farm to avoid prosecution for refusing to help catch her eight-year-old stud animal. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ordered that Geronimo be put down after he twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Macdonald, a veterinary nurse, believed the tests were returning false positives but had been refused permission by Defra to use a different type of test. Animal activists who had been camping at the farm in Wickwar, south Gloucestershire, blocked the farm gate and attempted to repel police but were pushed back.” – The Times

Comment:

  • Callous government used beloved Geronimo as sacrificial lamb for vindictive badger cull, Rod Liddle – The Sun

News in brief: