On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Afghans call for more international aid
The country is in the midst of a dire economy and violence, while the Pentagon released its latest report on the August drone strike that killed civilians there. Plus, opening statements begin in the trial of the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, reporter Nathan Bomey explains the initial pharmacy rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for younger children, USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour talks about how NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers is under fire after getting COVID-19 while unvaccinated and Diwali celebrations begin around the world.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Good morning, I’m Taylor Wilson, and this is 5 Things you need to know Thursday, the 4th of November 2021. Today, the Pentagon’s findings on the US drone strike that killed children in Afghanistan in August. Plus COVID-19 vaccines have begun for younger children in the US and more.
Here are some of the top headlines.
- Incumbent Democrat, Phil Murphy, has won the governor’s race in New Jersey. He beat out Republican rival Jack Ciattarelli, according to an AP call last night, though, Ciattarelli had not yet conceded.
- NFL wide receiver, Henry Ruggs III, was allegedly driving 156 miles an hour and had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit before he crashed and killed a woman early Tuesday morning. He’s been released on bail.
- And Iran reportedly seized a Vietnamese oil tanker last month, and still holds the vessel. It’s the latest provocation as tensions escalate between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The Pentagon has found that it failed to prevent the botched drone strike killing of civilians, including children in Kabul, Afghanistan in August. The strike killed 10 people and seven children, and came after an ISIS attack on the Kabul airport during the chaotic US troop withdrawal from the country toward the end of the month. Pentagon officials though said the strike did not break any laws. Air force Inspector General, Lieutenant General Sami Said led the investigation.
Lieutenant General Sami Said:
The investigation found no violation of law, including the law of war. Did find execution errors, combined with confirmation bias and communication breakdowns that, regrettably, led to civilian casualties. So the ability for defense have declined, were concentrated in one location with a lot of threat streams indicating imminent attacks that looked similar to the attack that happened three days prior. So you can imagine the stress on the forces high and the risk to force is high. The intended target of the strike – the vehicle, the white Corolla, its contents and occupant – were genuinely assessed at the time to be to US forces. That assessment was primarily driven by interpretation of intelligence and correlating that to observe movement throughout an eight hour window in which the vehicle was tracked throughout the day before it was ultimately struck. Regrettably, the interpretation, or the correlation of the intelligence, to what was being perceived at the time in real time was inaccurate. In fact, the vehicle, its occupant, and contents did not pose any risk to US forces.
The investigation comes after military leaders initially called the attack righteous, and said it killed at least one suspected suicide bomber and no civilians. It was only after accounts from family members of those killed and reporting by the New York Times and others that showed innocent civilians were killed by the United States. The tragic mistake shows the hazard of the Pentagon’s approach to counterterrorism strikes when no US troops or close allies are on the ground to identify legitimate targets. And while they say the strike did not break laws, it’s not clear if other international organizations feel differently. The Pentagon continues to say it’s looking into compensating family members of the victims. Hundreds of civilians have been killed by US airstrikes all over the world in recent years, according to the defense department. The Pentagon paid out more than $858,000 in 2019 to families, and just under $260,000 last year.
Meanwhile, the economy in a now Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is in dire shape. The country relied heavily on foreign aid and investment for a generation, something that has now taken a major dip. Most donor funds have stopped and previously made up 45% of the country’s GDP. Humanitarian agencies say they’ve seen a sharp rise in hunger, something that will get worse as winter arrives. The United Nations Humanitarian Chief, Martin Griffiths, said last week that the world needs to turn its attention back on Afghanistan.
Be very careful about Afghanistan. Worry about Afghanistan. Now the G-20 has held two virtual meetings solely on Afghanistan in the last few weeks, and that’s just a huge credit. And it’s an absolutely vital forum for discussions about Afghanistan. But here’s the story, as I see it at the moment, the needs in Afghanistan are skyrocketing. The possibility of half of the kids under five having acute malnutrition is a red light. A very, very, very, very severe one, telling us that we have to fix this soon. The food requirements; we’re feeding four million people in Afghanistan now. We predict, because of the economic collapse worries and winter, that we’re going to have to provide food assistance through the World Food Program to three times that, and that’s massive. Humanitarian aid is based on the principle that it is needed. Whoever is ruling, it is needed wherever people are in need. Humanitarian aid is unconditional in that sense.
What I would be saying to those governments and those owners is please give us your humanitarian money, because we can make good use of it. Please reprogram your development money, used for longer term projects, into humanitarian money so we can use it now. Let’s exploit the one blessing that Afghanistan has, which is an absence of war. That blessing should enable people to get back to a life of dignity.
Along with economic issues, the country continues to see a wave of violence, mainly from the Islamic State, enemies of the Taliban. Yesterday, a roadside bomb hit a Taliban control in the city of Jalalabad killing two people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but it came days after an attack outside a military hospital in Kabul killed three women, a child, and three Taliban guards along with five attackers.
Opening statements are set to begin today in the trial of three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery in coastal Georgia last year. A panel of 12 jurors and four alternates has been selected. Though the trial is already off to a controversial start, since jurors include only one black person. The trial comes two years after Arbery, a 25 year old black jogger, was shot and killed in Brunswick, Georgia, and three white men are charged with his murder; Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor Roddie Bryan. Video of the shooting was taken by Bryan and released two months later, sparking national outrage over an initial lack of arrests. You can follow along with the trial over the next few days and weeks at usatoday.com.
COVID-19 vaccine shots have begun at some locations around the country for kids aged five to 11. That comes after CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, signed off on the move this week following recommendations from multiple expert panels. Those trying to get their kids the jab can already go to a number of places in some areas, including pediatrician’s offices, schools and temporary clinic sites. But like with adults and teenagers, pharmacies will soon be the most widespread and easiest options. Business reporter Nathan Bomey talked through the roll outs.
The major pharmacies – CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid – will begin administering COVID vaccine shots this weekend. That means for kids ages five to 11, they can start getting appointments beginning this weekend. They won’t be available at all CVS, Walgreens, and Rite aid stores, however, so the stores are recommending that you schedule appointments, because this is only the Pfizer vaccine, not the others, which have not yet been approved for children ages five to 11. I would recommend that people try to schedule in advance, and that means going to the websites of these companies, or going to their app to get a vaccine scheduled, so that you can know that there’s availability in advance. This will be a little bit of a ramp up. It’ll probably be a little tough to get an appointment in the first few days, but with a little patience, they’ll be able to serve everyone.
Now, the pharmacies, the drug stores don’t handle every vaccination in America. They’ve handled about a third or so of the vaccine so far for American adults and teenagers. So if that holds firm, we’ll see millions administered to kids at places like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. And of course, other pharmacies and other stores will end up doing this as well. Walmart, Kroger, grocery stores throughout the country that have pharmacies will also do this, and local pharmacies too. Important to say that community owned and independent pharmacies also play a crucial role, and they’re expected to administer a lot of shots to kids too.
Children’s doctors are mostly optimistic about what vaccinating younger people could mean for getting back to normal. That includes Dr. James Versalovic at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Dr. James Versalovic:
This is so important because, obviously, children in school are around other children, and vaccines are so important to stop the spread of transmission, as well as keeping children safe. I think what’s important to emphasize is that the vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine is what we’re talking about now. Specifically, this Pfizer mRNA vaccine that is now authorized fully to administer to children across the country from five to 11 years of age. This means that we can offer vaccines to children under 12 for the first time. Reality is that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now, and that should be reassuring. This is hope for families that want to get back to a sense of normalcy, enjoy the holiday season, and they’re looking forward to 2022. I’m very optimistic, now that we can get vaccines to more and more individuals across the US.
Parents of some of the first younger children to get their initial shot this week said the move brings a sense of comfort. That’s the case for Brian Giglio, who son Carter got jabbed.
Carter is the last in our family to get vaccinated. And the biggest concern for us, even as adults being vaccinated, was would you bring something home to him? And Carter has an underlying condition. Now that we have his first shot today, life can start becoming good again.
66.9% of Americans are now, at least, partially vaccinated against COVID-19, with 58.1% fully vaccinated. That number will likely go up in the coming weeks with a new American age group eligible for the shots.
Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, has tested positive for COVID-19. And he’ll now have to miss this Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s despite telling reporters, in August, that he was immunized. Though, he’s reportedly unvaccinated. So what happened? Did the team or the league know the star player didn’t get the shot? USA Today Sports, Nancy Armour considers.
It’s not just about the vaccination status. It’s about following the many COVID protocols that the NFL has. From what everyone on the Packers was saying today, it kind of seems as if they did know, but Rodgers has also done press conferences without a mask inside the building. He was at a Halloween party over the weekend with several teammates. So those are things that potentially could violate the NFL protocols, and the NFL has released a statement saying that they will be meeting with the Packers on this matter.
The league can and has repeated today that it has, in the past, punished teams that have been violating protocols. I think last season, there were six figure fines for, I believe, the New Orleans Saints, the Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks over their COVID protocol violations. I would think if the NFL finds that there were violations with Green Bay, that they will come down pretty hard on them, just because of who is involved. And the fact that Rodgers basically lied. He was asked specifically or directly, “Are you vaccinated?” And he said, “I’m immunized,” which does not seem to actually be the case.
For more on this developing story, head to usatoday.com/sports.
Happy Diwali. Celebrations begin today around the world across a number of religions and cultures, especially in South Asia. The holiday, also known as The Festival of Lights, is observed differently by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. People often line up candles and lamps throughout their house, and along their driveway, to light up their surroundings. They might also buy colorful new clothes and host gatherings of friends and family. For Hindus, Diwali is a time for dāna, or charitable giving, and Seva, or selfless service. And for the Sikhs, Diwali celebrates sixth guru, who serves as a source of inspiration and a symbol of freedom. The festival usually lasts around five days.
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