Rescued Afghan interpreters arrive to safety on US soil – National & International News – FRI 30Jul2021

First of thousands of Afghan interpreters who worked with US forces arrive to safety in US.


Rescued Afghan interpreters arrive on US soil. 1 in 5 flight attendants report ‘physical incidents’ in 2021. Israeli spyware company blocks some countries from using software.


Rescued Afghan interpreters arrive on US soil

As of this morning, at least 200 Afghan nationals who worked as interpreters for US military forces have arrived in Virginia. These are only the first of 2500 interpreters and their family members who have already completed the visa process and are awaiting flights to the US.

As US forces withdraw, the Taliban is increasingly targeting and executing interpreters who worked with foreign forces. Following an outcry over interpreters’ safety, the US State Department began expediting the evacuation of interpreters and their families from Afghanistan last month. Many of these evacuees will be taken to third countries outside the US to await the lengthy vetting process in safety.

For the next week, the new arrivals will stay on base at Ft. Lee, VA. While there, they are receiving medical evaluations and COVID vaccinations. What happens to them afterward is more complicated. Any new arrivals that already have family in the US will likely be settled near them.

By some estimates, as many as 70,000 people still in Afghanistan may qualify for asylum in the US under the special immigrant visa program . This number includes the interpreters and their close family members.

In a statement, President Biden said, “I want to thank these brave Afghans for standing with the United States, and today, I am proud to say to them: “Welcome home.””

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1 in 5 flight attendants have experienced ‘physical incidents’ with passengers in 2021

According to a survey from a flight attendant union, nearly 1 in 5 (or 17%) of their members say they have experienced ‘physical incidents’ or violence with passengers this year. 85% of respondents said they had dealt with an unruly passenger this year. The union represents flight attendants at United, Alaska, Spirit and several smaller airlines.

Recently, airlines have reported a sharp uptick in incidents of violent conduct by unruly passengers. Some such incidents have been caught on camera. In May, video surfaced in which a female passenger punched a flight attendant, knocking out two of her teeth. 

The union says most of the violent incidents arise when passengers refuse to follow federal rules requiring masks on flights. Alcohol and ubiquitous flight delays have also contributed. Air-rage experts also say that unruly passengers tend to escalate when they see other passengers filming them on their phones.

In response, some airlines have imposed temporary bans on some passengers. The FAA has also introduced ever-increasing fines. But union president Sarah Nelson says this is not enough and that more passengers need to face criminal charges. Nelson says, “When people are facing jail time for acting out on a plane, we suddenly see some sobering up, and we need some sobering up”. 

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Israeli spyware company blocks some countries from using software

Israeli software company NSO has temporarily blocked some governments from using its Pegasus spyware. An anonymous NSO employee says the company is investigating some of its own clients after a consortium of journalists found that oppressive governments had used Pegasus to target more than 50,000 journalists, dissidents, human rights activists, rival heads of state and business people. Among those targeted were two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Beyond this revelation, NSO has categorically denied any wrongdoing. Officially, NSO says it, “will no longer be responding to media inquiries on this matter and it will not play along with the vicious and slanderous campaign”.

The Israeli government has also received criticism since it claims to regulates the sale of spyware technology to other countries. Over the past decade, Israel’s booming technology sector has been one of its most important drivers of economic growth.

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