Taliban Justifies No-Shave Order in Southern Afghanistan as being faithful to Islam

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On Monday, the Taliban issued an order to forbid shaving or trimming of beards in the southern provinces of Helmand, and threatened to punish barbers that violated this directive. The order was issued by the vice and virtue department and directed it to areas in Lashkar Gah, provincial capital of Helmand, justifying it as being in line with Sharia law, which is the law as defined in the Islamic holy scriptures called the Quran.

Punishment was promised but not specified; those breaking the order would be punished with no right to complain.

Since overtaking Afghanistan upon U.S. and NATO’s departure, the Taliban has set an interim government, with many hardline leaders from the previous reign in late 1990’s; of course, there are no women leaders.

Since the Taliban ousting in 2001, men have been shaving or cleanly trimming beards in Afghanistan.

The current outlook of Taliban rule doesn’t seem to be looking too well; just last weekend, the Taliban hung a body from a crane in the main square of Herat, which is a third-largest city in Afghanistan. A bystander who witnessed the event recounted the event, stating that four bodies were brought to the square, and three were taken to other parts of the city for public display.

The barbers are speaking up and asking Taliban to reconsider this order, to “give freedom to people to live the way they want, if they want to trim their beard or hair.” Barbers in the area are already seeing reduction in income.

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Pres. Biden offers $100 to newly vaccinated Americans

President Biden announced on Thursday that he wanted the state and local governments to spend the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan funds to give away $100 per individual to encourage vaccinations.

President Biden stated, “I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks that have gotten vaccinated already but here’s the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them,” and “We all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated.” in the announcement Today.

This payment will be offered to the newly vaccinated Americans encouraging get vaccinations to “protect communities and lives.” The Treasury Department has reported that it would be willing to assist the local and state governments to manage this process.

Biden administration has put effort to eradicate this pandemic as soon as possible but has found the Delta variant a huge hindrance to that goal. Biden signed this $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law which includes $350 billion in funding to assist states and local governments battling the coronavirus.

It is not sure whether this will encourage the 30% or so of the unvaccinated Americans from being vaccinated; however, those that have been vaccinated already are voicing their general dissatisfaction at Biden’s new proposal.

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Biden Eliminates Three Major Trump Policies

President Biden signed Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions on Wednesday to eliminate three of Trump’s stances during his time in office: climate change, finance, employment discrimination claims.

Pres. Biden stated, “I’m about to sign into law three bills … protecting our planet from climate disturbing greenhouse gas, particularly methane, which is devastating, protecting consumers from predatory lenders and protecting workers from employment discrimination,” and added, “Each of these bills reflects a return to common sense and commitment to the common good.”

The CRA only requires a simple majority vote in both chambers and presidential approval. As Democrats are the majority in both chambers, there were no expected hardships in passing the bill.

The CRA was equally used by then-Pres. Trump to eliminate many of his predecessor’s regulations, some of which will be restored by the Biden administration.

The climate rule that Biden got rid of included a weakened regulation of methane under Trump’s rule. Pres. Biden took it back to 2016 Obama-era regulations that encouraged the use of clean fuels which minimizes methane output; methane is known to be one of the more impactful greenhouse gases.

Another rule allowed lenders to offer loans at interest rates that exceed state limits if they team up with a federally chartered bank headquartered in a state with a higher cap. The Trump administration argued that the rule clears up uncertainty surrounding who the “true lender” is in such cases, but opponents said it allows lenders to charge consumers higher rates,” according to The Hill.

The employment discrimination against employees due to more information requiring to get a job will be removed. Under the Trump administration, more information was required of people to clarify their “identity” and fit for the job. The Trump administration said the additional information would improve transparency, while critics said it could lead to retaliation because employers would be able to [better identify] victims and witnesses, with employers also having an advantage in potential litigation through early access to information.”

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United Airlines To Expand, Buying 270 New Planes

United Airlines announced that it has ordered 270 new aircraft for domestic travelers. Since the pandemic, there has been a rebound of domestic travelers instead of international travelers. As a result, United Airlines will be replacing the older aircraft, improve seatback entertainment, and space for carry-on bags with new aircraft features.

According to United Airlines, this is the “the largest combined order in the airline’s history and the biggest by an individual carrier in the last decade,” and “The ‘United Next’ plan will have a transformational effect on the customer experience and is expected to increase the total number of available seats per domestic departure by almost 30%, significantly lower carbon emissions per seat and create tens of thousands of quality, unionized jobs by 2026, all efforts that will have a positive, ripple effect across the broader U.S. economy.”

“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending, and commerce.”

United Airlines received $54 billion in federal aids, and most of them were grants. The government gave aids to US-based Airlines in exchange for not cutting jobs or pay rates, though thousands of workers received furlough notice from the companies and received cut pay rates for certain periods of time.

For example, while American Airlines furloughed almost 20% of its workers, it also paid out $1.4 million bonuses for the CEO last year, drawing criticism.

However, many airline employees chose to move onto other jobs, and now, airlines are struggling to fill their rosters, although United is hiring again for the new aircraft operations in its 7 hubs. According to United Airlines, at least 25,000 jobs will be created with new aircraft orders. Currently, the airline supports about 68,000 union jobs, and 89% of jobs are mostly the airline’s total domestic workforce. Some of this hiring will be done at D.C.’s Dulles Airport hub.

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Pandemic Changes Peoples’ Preference

People in the U.S. are changing their minds about many things now that they’ve experienced a pandemic. They prefer to do more family-oriented things than spend that time at work. In April 2021 alone, 4 million workers quit their jobs. Since the pandemic hit, many people have been working from home or at places near their homes. As a result, more workers are hesitant to return to a life of extensive commuting time or to the office, where they have to spend needless hours engaging in things like work politics.

According to the Labor Department, the U.S. population wants more money, easier or no commute, and more flexibility in terms of their employment. People would rather spend the time to be with their family than spend it at the office. As corporations seek to bring people back post-pandemic, they are facing increasing hesitation and friction against returning to the office, especially now that many workers have finally adjusted back to working from home. Furthermore, many workers have also realized that they can perform their jobs at home, as last year is evidence of this.

People are reassessing what they value in light of the pandemic. That promotion doesn’t seem as attractive now as it might have been prior to the pandemic. Some people have realized that they earn more money from unemployment than from their minimum-wage jobs and are reevaluating their options. The fact is that the labor market is currently lacking incentives for people to want to return to the ways prior to the pandemic.

The shortage of workforce might lead to the end of the debate of raising the minimum wage; if no one wants to work at minimum wage, then those jobs will not be filled. Some companies requiring minimum wage workers are now attempting to lure in workers using “sign-up bonuses” and other incentives to get people back to the office.

However, most people are now demanding flexible work arrangements and higher pay, especially now that they know these things are possible. The labor market will have to meet the demands of its desired workers or not have the supply of workers they need. Simple economic concept.

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Delta COVID-19 Will Hit US HARD

Captured photo from Mayo Clinic

The U.K. and Europe are currently dealing with the sleuth of the very contagious Delta Variant of the Covid-19 virus, first found in India. The U.S. should expect to be hit hard by the Delta variant, federal officials and health officials have reported.

Dr. Fauci said, “20.6% of new cases in the U.S. are due to the Delta variant, and the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” at a White House briefing on COVID-19 on Tuesday. He added that the Delta variant is the most contagious yet and among those not yet vaccinated, may trigger some of the most serious illnesses than other variants have done so far.

As the U.S. eases up on physical distancing and masking rules, many people are exposed to this rapidly spreading virus, especially the unvaccinated, the younger generation, and those under the age of 12.

According to Mayo Clinic, at least 92.4% (as of June 2, 2021) of the age group of 65+ and only 11.1% of the age group of 18 are vaccinated. Northeast, West, and Mid-Atlantic states are more vaccinated than the red states, but even then, these states do not report a vaccination rate higher than 70 percent.

“There are still big portions of the country where the rates of vaccination are quite low,” notes Dr. Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “And, in fact, the Helix paper shows that this Delta variant is increasing in frequency — the speed at which it’s increasing in frequency is greatest in those areas where vaccination rates are lowest.”

It is also important to note that even those who are currently vaccinated are not fully protected from the devastating effects of the Delta variant, which also includes the growth of the “black fungus,” a serious infection that usually is resolved by cutting out the infected body part. The unvaccinated are even more vulnerable, however.

If you have not been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible, for your safety and others around you.

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College Enrollment Declines in Spring 2021

The college enrollment rate dropped significantly in spring 2021. Compared with spring 2020, college enrollment declined almost 5%, and the data show from the National Student Clearinghouse, college enrollment saw at least 727,000 students less than expected. According to NPR, after the pandemic took hold last year, many students did not enroll in classes, and many of them were unable to afford to go to college.

Last fall semester, 3.6% of students didn’t take classes, and this spring semester, the rate dropped even more. “It’s really the end of a truly frightening year for higher education. There will be no easy fixes or quick [bounces] backs” said Doug Shapiro, National Student Clearinghouse.

The pandemic hit hardest on the students in minority and low-income families groups, and some of the students went back to the workforce to help with the maintenance of their household. Furthermore, as the housing market skyrocketed during the pandemic, the younger generation is choosing to engage in handyman or other trades jobs to earn higher income in shorter periods of time.

Surprisingly, graduate program enrollments went up to more than 120,000 students this spring. Nowadays, a college degree is not enough for most to obtain the job they want, especially due to the inflation of a college degree.

It now seems as Gen Z are choosing either to obtain a higher degree or to find stable employment through other means, one that doesn’t require a college education, in an uncertain era where college doesn’t guarantee a stable job.

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The Annual Solar Eclipse: Partial Solar Eclipse visible on the sky on June 10, 2021

Eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler created this detailed visibility map for the June 10, 2021, annular solar eclipse. Skywatchers in much of central and eastern North America, as well as parts of Europe and Africa, will be able to enjoy this event as a partial solar eclipse; the full “ring of fire” effect will be limited to a narrow slice of land in central and eastern Canada. (Image credit: Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com)

Early in the morning (about 4:40 AM ET) on June 10, we will see the annual solar eclipse which will appear as a partial solar eclipse. According to timeanddate.com, most Northeast U.S. and Canadian residents will see the sky darken after the Sun rises.

The residents will see the “Ring of Fire” like the shape of the eclipse, across central to eastern Canada for at least 390 miles.

“Because the moon will be just 57 hours past apogee, its farthest point from Earth during its orbit, it will appear somewhat smaller than usual – smaller than the apparent disk of the sun. It is for this reason that viewers in the shadow’s center will get an annular (partial) rather than a total eclipse: the sun will become a brilliant ring (annulus) of light encircling the moon’s dark silhouette for several minutes,” said Space.com.

Those living in the Lake Superior region will see the horseshoe-shaped Sunlight when the Sun rises for about 3.5 minutes.

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Biden Calls for Further investigation of Covid-19 Origin

On Wednesday, President Biden set a time limit of 60 days for the investigation of the origin of Covid-19 and how it transferred throughout the globe. Once deemed conspiracy, the idea of Covid-19 being developed in a lab in Wuhan has now become a focal point for the new investigation. Most scientists tend to agree that the most likely origin of Covid-19 is likely to be from an animal reservoir similar to how other Sars virii had spread in past years; however, the idea that the virus was developed in Wuhan continues to challenge the main narrative. Technically, no one is 100 percent sure how the Covid-19 pandemic actually manifested to this extent. The scientists however, are cautionary about stating that this virus leaked from a lab; they’re simply interested in how the next pandemic might be prevented.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak was pinpointed to Wuhan, China, the world attitude towards Asians, with Chinese in particular, have gotten significantly negative; the U.S. saw a significant increase in hate crime perpetrated against Asian elderly, and many Asians have reported living in trepidation of receiving hatred from those around them.
According to NPR, Dr. Anthony Fauci (President Biden’s chief medical adviser) told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday, “The historical basis for pandemics evolving naturally from an animal reservoir is extremely strong. And it’s for that reason that we felt that something similar like this has a much higher likelihood. No one knows, not even I, 100% at this point, which is the reason why we are in favor of [the] further investigation.”
Dr. Gounder, an infectious disease expert who served on the Biden transition team’s COVID-19 advisory board, agrees.
Scientists said that they’d have to investigate, not for the purpose of confirming a conspiracy, but for the purpose of figuring out how to prevent this kind of virus-related pandemics in the future.
The hope is that the investigation will ultimately save many innocent lives and decrease hate crime and violence against innocent Asians living in America or Europe by finding the truth.
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Senate Passes Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill by 94-1

Senate. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced, and the Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accompanied the Anti-Asian hate crime bill and the Bill passed with 94-1 on the floor today. The only “no” vote came from Missouri senator Josh Hawley. The bill only needed 60 votes to pass, but both sides of the parties agreed that rising crime against Asians since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic must be rid of.

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “The vote today on the anti-Asian hate crimes bill is proof that when the Senate is given the opportunity to work, the Senate can work to solve important issues.”

This bill is now on the way to the House floor, led by congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY). If it passes the House, it will likely be signed by Pres. Biden. President Biden has encouraged action on preventing hate crimes since the Georgia incident, and the incident in New York City.

Sen. Collins stated, “Crimes motivated by bias against race, national origin, and other characteristics cannot be tolerated.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “Over the past several years, the forces of hate and bigotry seemed to have gained strength too often encouraged by our former president,” at the Senate floor. He also added, “The Senate makes it very clear that hate and discrimination against any group [have] no place in America. Bigotry against one is bigotry against all.”

Schumer mentioned the bill’s passage containing two messages: One, the government is in solidarity with the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) communities. Two, these hate crimes will not be tolerated anymore.

Recently, many Asian Americans have been avoiding going outside for fear of attack by someone without any public protections, especially old people.

Currently, anti-Asian hate crimes are rising around the world, and they must be stopped at some point.

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