Prince Charles pays tribute to his father

 

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, paid tribute to his late father Prince Philip on Saturday in a pre-recorded statement.

“My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that,” Prince Charles said in a statement from Highgrove House, his country home in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. “It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”
Prince Philip died peacefully at Windsor Castle on Friday morning at the age of 99. He was the nation’s longest-serving consort — a term given to the spouse of a reigning monarch.
He will be laid to rest next Saturday.
“I particularly wanted to say that my father, for I suppose the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable, devoted service to the queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth,” Prince Charles said.
Prince Philip’s long-standing funeral plans had been adapted to respect certain Covid-19 restrictions, with all the usual elements that involve contact with the public removed.
Prince Philip’s death has been marked in a somber fashion, as the royal household and the UK government have asked the public not to gather or leave flowers at royal residences, with the country still under strict Covid-19 restrictions.

Complaints flood in over wall-to-wall TV coverage of Philip’s death

Global interest in the British royal family has boomed recently, mostly due to Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last month and the hit TV series “The Crown.” But after Prince Philip’s death on Friday, media saturation appears to have reached tipping point, in Britain at least.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) opened a dedicated feedback form on its website after it was inundated with complaints about its wall-to-wall coverage.
The lifelong companion of Queen Elizabeth II and the longest-serving consort in British history, died at the age of 99 on Friday. The BBC responded by clearing its regular TV and radio programming and broadcasting special news reports and tribute programs instead. Popular TV shows like the top-rated soap EastEnders and the final of the cooking competition MasterChef were postponed. Coverage was simulcast across various networks.
National radio stations also changed their tone after the palace announced the death, abruptly switching to somber playlists and taking some music programs off air.
Some viewers appeared to tune out too. BBC One’s Friday average viewership between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. fell to 2.41 million from the previous week’s 2.56 million, a drop of almost 6%, according to data published by Deadline, an entertainment website. BBC Two’s viewership declined 65%, from 980,000 to 340,000, according to Deadline’s analysis of preliminary data from BARB, the company that collects ratings on behalf of British broadcasters.
Viewers also criticized the broadcaster online when it pulled all programming from BBC Four, including coverage of an England women’s football game. CNN has reached out to the BBC for comment.
Similarly, the BBC’s main rival ITV broadcast a film about Prince Philip at 5 p.m. local time before a two-hour long news special at 7 p.m. and a documentary at 9 p.m. It saw a 60% hit to its ratings on Friday evening, according to Deadline.

How to help siblings get along better


“It’s been part of our culture, at least in the US, to think that siblings fight. That there’s going to be lots of times they don’t get along. That’s what they do,” said Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied psychology at Northeastern University in Boston.

“When social lives are so restricted, families really see the value of encouraging their kids to be friends, in some respects, to be companions and playmates.”

Unlike many of our relationships, we don’t choose our siblings, and this makes for a unique dynamic. Brothers and sisters can withstand far more negativity and behavior that simply wouldn’t fly among friends, Kramer said.

That’s one reason why sibling interactions are developmentally so important. These relationships allow children to try out new social and emotional behavior, particularly when it comes to conflict, helping them learn ways to manage emotions and develop awareness of other people’s thoughts and feelings.

“It’s helpful for children to have experiences in a very safe relationship with a brother or sister where they can work through (conflict) and learn conflict management skills that they will be able to use in other relationships in their life,” Kramer said.

Boys may be hiding their feelings less amid the coronavirus pandemic

“Conflict can be very constructive and helpful. It helps children get a sense of who they are and their own identity.”

It’s worth parents spending some time to help their children get along since these are typically the longest-lasting of our close relationships. That shared history can be really important in a crisis.

So what steps should you take to help feuding siblings get along? Here are some ideas.

One-on-one time

It may sound counterintuitive, but scheduling regular one-on-one time with your children is a good first move.

“When you have one-on-one time there is no competition for your attention. There are no perceived winners and losers in this regard,” said family therapist Jonathan Caspi, a professor in the department of family science and human development at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

“There is the ability to praise and correct without the audience (and it having any meaning) for the other children. It’s a freer relationship and one in which bonding and closeness can be developed without interference,” he said via email.

Another tip: While it’s tempting to seize the moments they do get along to get things done, it’s important to take a moment and praise siblings when they are cooperating and playing nicely — parent the good behavior as well as the bad.

Intervene or ignore?

Tougher to deal with are the fights and knowing when to intervene or not. As a rule, Caspi said, it’s better to ignore simple bickering.

However, he stressed that physical violence and the name calling that often precedes it should be policed.

“Since violence escalates incrementally in its severity, it is important that parents stop verbal violence before it becomes physical. Name calling is violence and opens the door for escalation into more severe violence.”

“Do not allow your children to call each other curse words or negative terms like ‘fat,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘icky,’ etc. While physical wounds heal, verbal ones can last a lifetime.”

Children under the age of 8 don’t usually have the skills to manage conflict, said Kramer, who encouraged parents to act as mediators or coaches to facilitate solving the problem at hand rather than serving as a referee.

“What happens when parents do nothing and don’t intervene is that children can get the message that parents think what you’re doing is OK. That it’s all right to keep on at one another,” she said.

“We encourage parents to intervene to help children manage conflict on their own.”

For example, Kramer suggested saying something along the following line: “I’m hearing some scuffling. I’m hearing some conflict. I’d like for the two of you to work this out together. If you need some help, I’m down the hall but let’s see what you can do on your own.”

It was once thought that girls used more verbal aggression than boys, Caspi said, but research is suggesting that sisters are just as apt to use physical violence as much as brothers.

“The difference may be how severe the physical violence gets. Boys tend to do more damage, particularly when older,” he said via email. “It was also assumed that girls relied more on relational aggression (e.g., strategies to socially humiliate, isolating, injure reputation) than boys. However, there is evidence that brothers use this approach about the same too.”

What not to do

The danger with intervening or involving yourself in children’s disagreements is that it can backfire and fuel the fighting.

Parents tend to intervene on behalf of the younger child, which builds more resentment in the older and empowers the younger to challenge the older more frequently, Caspi said. Avoid phrases like “You’re bigger, be nice!” “Be a good role model,” or “She’s little, let her have the toy.”

Getting kids to connect across racial — and geographic — lines

“Another reason for bickering is parents who make lots of comparisons. Parents should avoid comparing their children. Children hear the comparisons and it creates more competition and fighting,” he said.

It’s also important to take complaints seriously. For example, if a child consistently complains, “It’s not fair” — something I find particularly challenging in dealing with my own daughters.

“When children complain about fairness, parents often dismiss it … which only confirms the sense that they are on the outside in the parent-children relationship. Acknowledge the feelings and openly discuss it,” Caspi said.

“Parents should observe how they intervene in sibling conflicts. Are you taking one’s side more than the other’s? If so, change it up,” he said.

Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, both Caspi and Kramer said that it’s important for parents to cut themselves some slack and take care of their own mental health. Kids can pick up on stress and tension, and this may lead to more fights.

“Parents are stretched in so many different ways right now,” Kramer said.



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Female truckers have become TikTok influencers, and they're changing the transportation game


In the back of the spacious cab, Rankin has set up what she calls her “mommy getaway apartment:” a twin bed, a stash of food, some decor, cleaning supplies, and a few wig stands. She occasionally likes to switch up her style on long hauls — maybe long and wavy one day, and bright green or deep, curly red the next.

Once she wrangles Sparkle, she picks up her trailer and sorts out her first load. Rankin, 34, owns her own Charlotte-based trucking business, and typically travels within a 250 mile radius to Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and the like. Wherever she goes, she brings her nearly 1 million followers on TikTok with her, sharing the ups and downs of the job, giving motivational pep talks, and taking questions from fans.

“How in the world did you get into trucking?” is one she gets a lot. But there’s another, better question she likes to answer:

It’s a promising gig — if you’re ready to work hard

A growing number of women are entering the world of trucking at a time when demand for drivers is at a critical high. Many of them, like Rankin, are using their influence to educate other women and lay the groundwork for change in a crucial and often misunderstood industry.

They’re also sharing an important message: Trucking is for everyone.

Women made up more than 10% of over-the-road truck drivers in 2019, according to a Women in Trucking survey. That’s a sizeable increase over a reported 7.8% in 2018. Factor in different kinds of drivers and other non-executive transportation industry positions like technicians, driver managers and dispatchers, and the proportion of women rises to 43.4%.
Rankin likes to show people it's possible to be feminine and successful in a male-dominated industry.
This influx has been attributed to the work of inclusive industry groups like Women in Trucking, which spotlights women across the industry and recently partnered with the Girl Scouts of America to introduce a transportation badge.

It’s also the result of women becoming keen to all the profession has to offer.

Rankin went into trucking after her first son was born with a heart defect. She was pursuing a criminal justice degree, but knew the money wasn’t there.

“The bills were piling up, and I needed more income,” she says. “Getting into trucking was a big gut decision.”

Trucking is a tough business, and it requires plenty of training, education and hands-on experience to do well. Rankin says it’s not unusual for a driver to make about $60,000 their first year. Her second year on the job, she passed six figures.

She now operates independently under a mega-carrier, and every evening she’s able to come home and kiss her husband and two sons goodnight. Sometimes, for a change, she’ll take a long-haul job to the northeast or down to Miami Beach.

Success stories show other women they can belong, too

Tierra Allen shares what life on the road is like, and encourages other women to pursue trucking.
The independence, the security, the income: There are a lot of benefits to being a truck driver. And for the social media-savvy, there’s also the possibility of remarkable popularity. Truckers like Asmin de Loa, Shanya Urquidi and the women profiled here have five-to-six-figure followings on TikTok and other platforms.

While these influencers fit a tried-and-true social media formula — conventionally attractive feminine women doing non-conventionally attractive, non-feminine things — their work and their advocacy create a meaningful impact.

Tierra Allen knew she wanted to get into trucking since she was a teenager, and enrolled in truck driving school at 18. Now 26, Allen travels all over the lower 48, logging 700 to 800 miles a day over 11 hours. She’s known as the Sassy Trucker on social media, and like others in this burgeoning transportation sisterhood, she loves to poke holes in dusty trucking stereotypes.

Allen’s TikTok is filled with videos of her working on her truck, or sharing tips on how to dress and eat healthy on the road. She says it’s important for her mental health to stay nourished and take care of her appearance on long hauls. By sharing that side of herself, she’s showing other women that you don’t need to look or act a certain way to be a good truck driver.

“I like to show that you can still be feminine in a male-dominated field, and a lot of people like to see that,” she says.

Allen has found solidarity with other female truck drivers on social media posts.

There are drawbacks to that, too. Rankin and Allen both say they get unwanted comments from men while on the job. Oftentimes, people don’t believe they’re really drivers. Rankin says a man even told her he wouldn’t hire her as a driver, hypothetically, because of the way she dressed.

“I would say it takes a thick skin to work in the trucking industry, because we go through a lot,” Young says. “But I want to motivate others and hopefully see more women get out of the road and start driving.”

While it’s a challenge, trucking influencers often use these difficult moments to speak on grander goals: Self-empowerment, confidence, resilience, and the courage to break into roles that aren’t always welcoming to women.

More women means more solutions for trucking challenges

Candace Rivers owns a fitness company that helps truckers stay fit and combat common health risks.
The trucking industry is in a tough spot right now. Carriers were already being squeezed by a driver shortage before the pandemic, and everything that’s happened since has just made it worse. The US was in need of about 60,000 drivers in 2019, according to the American Trucking Associations.
It’s just one of the reasons companies and industry groups are trying to recruit more and more women and other underrepresented groups into the trucking fold.

But an increase in women means more for the industry than just warm bodies behind a wheel. If the female trucking influencers of social media are any indication, women could also be the key to solving age-old problems weighing the industry down, like driver health and retention.

Candace Rivers’ involvement with trucking began, fittingly, on Interstate 20 not far from her hometown of Oxford, Alabama. Rivers, 37, is a fitness instructor and studio owner, but felt a sudden, spiritual call to extend her work to truckers.

She started researching health issues facing truckers, and was floored by what she found.

Long haul truck drivers are twice as likely to smoke or be obese compared to other US workers, according to research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They report more instances of potentially life-shortening conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and are at constant risk of fatigue and chronic injury. Rivers explains they are also at high risk of blood clots from sitting for long hours, and that can lead to stroke or aneurysms.

Any of these risks could easily take drivers out of work and off the road — bad for the driver, bad for the industry.

“It broke my heart,” she says. “So many drivers are sacrificing their life and their bodies for their families and to get people what they need.”

Rivers is getting her commercial driver's license and hopes to own her own rig one day.
Now, Rivers runs Fit’s Possible Trucking, a fitness company that helps truckers stay active and eat healthy on the road. Several companies have expressed interest in integrating her programs into their health initiatives, and she plans on getting her own truck and setting up wellness events across the country.

To do that, Rivers is currently in training to get her commercial driver’s license. She says one reason women may not consider trucking as a career option is because they don’t know how many opportunities there are.

“There are so many local jobs for CDL holders that make a lot of money, and women can drive just as well as men,” she says. “This industry is built for more than just the people they think it’s built for.”

She’s sharing her CDL journey, as well as wellness and fitness advice, with her large social media followings. Like other trucking influencers, she knows sometimes all people need is a little inspiration, “somebody that’s speaking life into you,” as she says, to pursue something new, something a little scary — something that could change their lives for the better.

The key is showing people that they can do it, whether they wear old baseball caps or mink eyelashes. And if the road is opened to them, a new generation of truckers could come rolling in, with fresh ideas and fresh solutions in tow.



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Matt Gaetz shows Donald Trump's defiant style is here to stay



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Concerns mount that US withdrawal from Afghanistan could risk progress on women's rights


“Today women in Afghanistan have a very special place. They are stronger than ever and they have achieved what has never been achieved before: they cannot be ignored. They will not be ignored,” Fatima Gailani, an Afghan women’s rights activist and one of the four women on the Afghan government’s negotiating team, said at a recent congressional Women, Peace, and Security Caucus virtual discussion.

Fawzia Koofi, one of the other women on the government’s team for talks with the Taliban, recalled that “in 2001, when the Taliban government was thrown out of power, I along with thousands and millions of Afghans could walk in the streets of Kabul freely without the fear of being whipped or beaten up for what I wear.”

“Then the important thing for me was not who is in Afghanistan, which superpower is in Afghanistan, the troops of which country is in my country. The important thing for me was, as a human being, I could walk and breathe free,” said Koofi, a member of Parliament who has survived two assassination attempts — at least one by the Taliban.

“Afghanistan has transformed and we have all invested blood and treasure to bring Afghanistan to where it is,” she said.

Progress ‘could evaporate’

Gailani told those at the virtual discussion that an American troop withdrawal from the country must be “extremely careful.” Koofi’s assessment: “If the US leaves now, it will not result in peace.”

Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, who serves as co-chair of the Women, Peace, and Security Caucus, said when he served in Afghanistan as a Special Forces officer he saw “girls schools machine gunned with the girls in them.”

“I’ve seen acid thrown on their faces,” he said. “We’ve made tremendous gains. We need to protect those gains.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, told CNN that she’s “very concerned” that the gains made by women in Afghanistan will not be protected if the US withdraws.

Biden says he 'can't picture' US troops being in Afghanistan next year

“We have, I believe, not just a human rights imperative to support women — it’s been part of what we’ve done since we got into Afghanistan — but it’s also about ensuring the stability, the future stability of the country in any agreement,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, who is the other co-chair of the Women, Peace and Security caucus, also expressed concerns that the “gains made by women over the past years could evaporate.”

“We don’t want to go backwards,” she said, adding that concerned members of Congress would “work closely with our administration to do everything that’s reasonably possible to make sure that the progress made for human rights in Afghanistan continue.”

Biden administration officials have repeatedly stressed that any agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban must protect human rights, particularly the rights of women and minorities. US-backed intra-Afghan negotiations formally kicked off in Doha last September but have moved slowly, and targeted killings and attacks on civilians and Afghan security forces by the Taliban have continued — the State Department said this week “levels of violence are unacceptably high.”

‘They are the first people to suffer’

Shaharzad Akbar, the chair of the Afghanistan Independent Commission on Human Rights, also noted that negotiations — including a meeting in Moscow last month — have not included a fair gender balance.

“A process that excludes women or tokenizes their participation will lack credibility and fail to inspire public confidence,” she told the UN Security Council in March.

Annie Pforzheimer, a retired US career diplomat who was deputy chief of mission in Kabul from 2017-2018 and acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Afghanistan until March 2019, told CNN that “there is a difference between saying that you want to protect the rights of women and then taking actions which genuinely would do so.”

“So far, the current administration is still taking the right actions,” said Pforzheimer, who is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Pentagon could open itself to costly litigation from contractors if US pulls out of Afghanistan this year

“What I am concerned about is the idea that they would put just a new deadline on a troop withdrawal, another date on a calendar versus making it conditions-based,” she explained. “If it’s conditions-based, then I think that they have increased their leverage on the parties, and they are better able to protect the rights of women, minorities and young people.”

Pforzheimer said those conditions need to include a ceasefire and “should also include the beginnings of a social agreement on that outline of a political road map.” She noted that “if, for example, a peace deal that is seen as unfair takes hold it won’t really be a peace deal at all, it will simply be the prelude to widespread fighting.”

Akbar warned that “a rushed process could tip the country back into full scale war,” adding that “any settlement that excludes the wider public will almost certainly be short-lived and is unlikely to lead to lasting peace.”

Concerns are widespread that a hasty US withdrawal without a durable peace agreement in place could plunge Afghanistan into civil war.

“The rights of women, young people, minorities … they are threatened by violence, even if it’s a violence from civil war versus violence that’s specifically targeted at them,” Pforzheimer said. “They are the first people to suffer.”

In a bid “aimed at accelerating discussions on a negotiated settlement and ceasefire,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently laid out a series of proposals in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, including a pitch for an interim power-sharing agreement.

Waltz told CNN he found the idea appalling.

“I’m just appalled that we would, the United States of America would propose dissolving a constitutionally, democratically elected government that we have fought so hard to defend. And a key piece of that is women’s rights,” he said.

Moreover, there is strong skepticism over whether the Taliban can be trusted to uphold its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups like al Qaeda and to protect the rights of women and minority groups in the country.

“The Taliban clearly has not been willing to even consider the importance of protecting the rights of women,” Shaheen told CNN, adding that she also has not seen “any real signs that the Taliban are willing to cut those links with al Qaeda.”

“If the Taliban thinks we’re not committed to ensuring a stable Afghanistan in the future, they’re just going to wait us out, and they can wait longer than we can, at least that’s what their perspective seems to be,” she said.



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Jeff Bezos endorsed higher corporate tax rates. But it won't cost him much



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Here’s how it works.”,”descriptionText”:”Third-party sellers on Amazon and other e-commerce sites are sending random products to people across the US as part of what’s known as a “brushing scam” — a bizarre scheme that helps boost a vendors’ ratings online. Here’s how it works.”},{“title”:”This robotaxi from Amazon’s Zoox has no reverse function”,”duration”:”01:25″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/12/14/zoox-robotaxi-amazon-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/12/14/zoox-robotaxi-amazon-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/201214171425-zoox-vichle-youtube-still-02-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/12/14/zoox-robotaxi-amazon-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-amazon/”,”description”:”This self-driving robotaxi from Amazon’s Zoox can travel up to 75 mph and never has to turn around. Check out this electric vehicle made for crowded city streets.”,”descriptionText”:”This self-driving robotaxi from Amazon’s Zoox can travel up to 75 mph and never has to turn around. Check out this electric vehicle made for crowded city streets.”},{“title”:”AWS CEO: Businesses are reinventing rapidly”,”duration”:”02:52″,”sourceName”:”CNNBusiness”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/12/11/aws-amazon-web-services-ceo-cloud-pandemic.cnnbusiness/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/12/11/aws-amazon-web-services-ceo-cloud-pandemic.cnnbusiness”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/201211105606-andy-jassy-aws-ceo-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/12/11/aws-amazon-web-services-ceo-cloud-pandemic.cnnbusiness/video/playlists/business-amazon/”,”description”:”Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy says the pandemic has “accelerated adoption” of cloud services.”,”descriptionText”:”Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy says the pandemic has “accelerated adoption” of cloud services.”},{“title”:”Watch Ring’s indoor drone prototype patrol a house”,”duration”:”00:57″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/09/25/amazon-ring-indoor-drone-always-home-cam-zw-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/09/25/amazon-ring-indoor-drone-always-home-cam-zw-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200924150834-01-ring-always-home-cam-amazon-event—screenshot-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/09/25/amazon-ring-indoor-drone-always-home-cam-zw-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-amazon/”,”description”:”The Amazon-owned home security company Ring has unveiled a prototype for a drone meant to fly around in your house called the Ring Always Home Cam. 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Concerns mount that US withdrawal from Afghanistan could risk progress on women's rights


“Today women in Afghanistan have a very special place. They are stronger than ever and they have achieved what has never been achieved before: they cannot be ignored. They will not be ignored,” Fatima Gailani, an Afghan women’s rights activist and one of the four women on the Afghan government’s negotiating team, said at a recent congressional Women, Peace, and Security Caucus virtual discussion.

Fawzia Koofi, one of the other women on the government’s team for talks with the Taliban, recalled that “in 2001, when the Taliban government was thrown out of power, I along with thousands and millions of Afghans could walk in the streets of Kabul freely without the fear of being whipped or beaten up for what I wear.”

“Then the important thing for me was not who is in Afghanistan, which superpower is in Afghanistan, the troops of which country is in my country. The important thing for me was, as a human being, I could walk and breathe free,” said Koofi, a member of Parliament who has survived two assassination attempts — at least one by the Taliban.

“Afghanistan has transformed and we have all invested blood and treasure to bring Afghanistan to where it is,” she said.

Progress ‘could evaporate’

Gailani told those at the virtual discussion that an American troop withdrawal from the country must be “extremely careful.” Koofi’s assessment: “If the US leaves now, it will not result in peace.”

Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, who serves as co-chair of the Women, Peace, and Security Caucus, said when he served in Afghanistan as a Special Forces officer he saw “girls schools machine gunned with the girls in them.”

“I’ve seen acid thrown on their faces,” he said. “We’ve made tremendous gains. We need to protect those gains.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, told CNN that she’s “very concerned” that the gains made by women in Afghanistan will not be protected if the US withdraws.

Biden says he 'can't picture' US troops being in Afghanistan next year

“We have, I believe, not just a human rights imperative to support women — it’s been part of what we’ve done since we got into Afghanistan — but it’s also about ensuring the stability, the future stability of the country in any agreement,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, who is the other co-chair of the Women, Peace and Security caucus, also expressed concerns that the “gains made by women over the past years could evaporate.”

“We don’t want to go backwards,” she said, adding that concerned members of Congress would “work closely with our administration to do everything that’s reasonably possible to make sure that the progress made for human rights in Afghanistan continue.”

Biden administration officials have repeatedly stressed that any agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban must protect human rights, particularly the rights of women and minorities. US-backed intra-Afghan negotiations formally kicked off in Doha last September but have moved slowly, and targeted killings and attacks on civilians and Afghan security forces by the Taliban have continued — the State Department said this week “levels of violence are unacceptably high.”

‘They are the first people to suffer’

Shaharzad Akbar, the chair of the Afghanistan Independent Commission on Human Rights, also noted that negotiations — including a meeting in Moscow last month — have not included a fair gender balance.

“A process that excludes women or tokenizes their participation will lack credibility and fail to inspire public confidence,” she told the UN Security Council in March.

Annie Pforzheimer, a retired US career diplomat who was deputy chief of mission in Kabul from 2017-2018 and acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Afghanistan until March 2019, told CNN that “there is a difference between saying that you want to protect the rights of women and then taking actions which genuinely would do so.”

“So far, the current administration is still taking the right actions,” said Pforzheimer, who is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Pentagon could open itself to costly litigation from contractors if US pulls out of Afghanistan this year

“What I am concerned about is the idea that they would put just a new deadline on a troop withdrawal, another date on a calendar versus making it conditions-based,” she explained. “If it’s conditions-based, then I think that they have increased their leverage on the parties, and they are better able to protect the rights of women, minorities and young people.”

Pforzheimer said those conditions need to include a ceasefire and “should also include the beginnings of a social agreement on that outline of a political road map.” She noted that “if, for example, a peace deal that is seen as unfair takes hold it won’t really be a peace deal at all, it will simply be the prelude to widespread fighting.”

Akbar warned that “a rushed process could tip the country back into full scale war,” adding that “any settlement that excludes the wider public will almost certainly be short-lived and is unlikely to lead to lasting peace.”

Concerns are widespread that a hasty US withdrawal without a durable peace agreement in place could plunge Afghanistan into civil war.

“The rights of women, young people, minorities … they are threatened by violence, even if it’s a violence from civil war versus violence that’s specifically targeted at them,” Pforzheimer said. “They are the first people to suffer.”

In a bid “aimed at accelerating discussions on a negotiated settlement and ceasefire,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently laid out a series of proposals in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, including a pitch for an interim power-sharing agreement.

Waltz told CNN he found the idea appalling.

“I’m just appalled that we would, the United States of America would propose dissolving a constitutionally, democratically elected government that we have fought so hard to defend. And a key piece of that is women’s rights,” he said.

Moreover, there is strong skepticism over whether the Taliban can be trusted to uphold its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups like al Qaeda and to protect the rights of women and minority groups in the country.

“The Taliban clearly has not been willing to even consider the importance of protecting the rights of women,” Shaheen told CNN, adding that she also has not seen “any real signs that the Taliban are willing to cut those links with al Qaeda.”

“If the Taliban thinks we’re not committed to ensuring a stable Afghanistan in the future, they’re just going to wait us out, and they can wait longer than we can, at least that’s what their perspective seems to be,” she said.



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Will a US/UK travel corridor be a reality this summer?


(CNN) — Maybe it’s falling asleep on the red-eye flight, dreaming of gleaming skyscrapers before waking up to views of Long Island, ready to live out all your NYC fantasies.

Or perhaps it’s finally breezing down Route 66, the California wind in your hair, and the open road boundless in front of you.

For many British travelers, a vacation in America is a dream come true, a culmination of years of consuming US cinema and culture.

But it’s been a dream that’s been essentially off the table for over a year.

In March 2020, as Covid-19 spread across the world and borders closed, the US banned all non-essential travelers from the UK.

This rule remains in place, and while there’s no reverse ban on US travelers entering the UK, ongoing British quarantine and lockdown restrictions mean few Americans are vacationing in Britain right now.

Both the US and the UK have suffered greatly over the course of the pandemic, with grimly high death rates.

But recently there’s been a glimmer of hope: both nations are enjoying speedy and largely smooth vaccine roll-outs.

While much of mainland Europe is entangled in vaccine delays, as of April 9 the UK had fully vaccinated 9.16% of its population and the US had vaccinated 18.74%.

President Joe Biden has promised vaccines for all US adults by the end of May, recently upping that to mid-April. Meanwhile, Britain is on track to meet its goal of offering the first jab to all adults by the end of July.
The CDC recently amended guidance to confirm fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves. In March, CNBC reported that Biden’s administration is considering lifting the long-standing UK travel ban, and the similar bans that currently block EU and Brazilian arrivals.
And while non-essential international travel in the UK is off the table until at least May 17 — and potentially illegal until June 30 — the UK government’s recent reveal of a “traffic light” system for international travel, in which destinations would be grouped into “red,” “amber” or “green” categories depending on their vaccination roll-out and infection rate, suggests the US could be one of the more viable options for UK travelers this summer.

Popular airline route

British Airways aircraft parked at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport in February 2021.

British Airways aircraft parked at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport in February 2021.

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Pre-pandemic, the transatlantic travel corridor was one of the most popular in the world. Unsurprisingly, the major UK aviation players are keen for the route to be reopened.

British Airways’ CEO and Chairman Sean Doyle calls transatlantic travel “crucial,” highlighting that in 2019, 22 million passengers flew between the UK and US.

Doyle points to the impact of the travel ban not only on vacationers and business travelers, but also on families.

Covid-19 travel rules across the world have forcibly separated some binational couples, many of whom have rallied under the Love is Not Tourism banner and have been campaigning for a lifting of — or exception to — stringent travel restrictions since they were first instituted.

“I hear heartbreaking stories of Britons separated from loved ones and companies unable to restart global business operations for more than a year now,” Doyle says.

He says he is “optimistic” about the UK’s May 17 target date for the recommencement of international travel, but stresses that for overseas vacations to realistically start up this summer, advance notice is needed for both travelers and airlines.

“Our focus is on working hard to bring our operations back up to speed, but what we do is highly complex so it’s vital that we hear more as soon as possible in order to safely restart, with time to plan effectively,” he says.

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss also points to the successful vaccine roll-outs in the US and the UK as offering “a clear opportunity to safely introduce a transatlantic corridor from 17 May.”

UK traffic light system

Last summer, as lockdown lifted and Covid’s first wave subsided in Europe, the UK established several travel corridors with European countries — including tourism big-hitters Greece and Spain.

But one by one, the corridors collapsed. Destinations were placed on the UK’s “red list” as cases rose, leading to sudden compulsory quarantines and canceled vacations.

“A priority for the industry is a more stable system which avoids the situation of last summer where travel to many destinations was quickly turned on and off,” said a spokesperson for ABTA, a UK travel trade association.

On April 9, the UK government gave further details on how the traffic light system will work. Guidance suggests destinations will be categorized based on the percentage of the population who’ve been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the “prevalence of variants of concern” and the country’s “access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.”

Travelers arriving or departing from a “green” destination will still need to take a pre-departure test, plus a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival back in the UK. They won’t need to quarantine.

Those who’ve vacationed in “amber” destinations will need to quarantine for 10 days, take a pre-departure test and also get a PCR test on day two and day eight of their quarantine. The test to release system will remain an option.

As for “red” destinations, arrivals will still be sent to the UK’s quarantine hotels and be subject to the same testing requirements as “amber” arrivals.

To try to avoid chaos caused by destinations changing colors while travelers are mid-trip, the UK government has said a “green watchlist” will be introduced, identifying destinations at risk of moving from “green” to “amber.”

“It is too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer, and the government continues to consider a range of factors to inform the restrictions placed on them,” reads a April 9 government statement.

“We will set out by early May which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming whether international travel can resume from 17 May 2021.”

Passengers arriving from a "red list" destination in Terminal 5 of Heathrow airport in February 2021.

Passengers arriving from a “red list” destination in Terminal 5 of Heathrow airport in February 2021.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Some travel industry stakeholders are championing further removal of quarantine and testing requirements.

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, an industry body representing UK airlines, said in a statement that “the insistence on expensive and unnecessary PCR testing rather than rapid testing — even for low-risk countries — will pose an unsustainable burden on passengers, making travel unviable and unaffordable for many people.”

Weiss, from Virgin Atlantic, said that the traffic light framework “doesn’t go far enough” and added that travel to and from “green” and “amber” destinations should not include testing or quarantine requirements.

“We need certainty that the framework will allow for a phased removal of testing and quarantine.”

Meanwhile, ABTA suggests that the UK should allow free NHS lateral flow tests for international travel to “green” countries.

“At present the costs of testing may be a deterrent to many UK travelers, so the Government must ensure that testing is required only where the public health risk justifies it, and that a cost-effective and efficient testing regime is in place,” said an ABTA representative.

There are also plans for the UK to implement digital travel certification — AKA vaccine passports — to unlock the international travel stalemate.

The UK government says it’s considering “the role certification could play in facilitating outbound travel, for those countries which have systems in place.”

“Work also continues to develop a system that would facilitate travel certification for inbound international travel,” the statement adds.

British Airways’ Doyle says his airline is trialing using an app called Verifly, as well as working on BA-specific concepts and working with IATA on its Travel Pass app.

US uncertainty

Covid-19 testing signage at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in January 2021.

Covid-19 testing signage at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in January 2021.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Realistically, an effective US/UK travel corridor can only be established if both countries are on board.

And while the UK and the USA have vaccinated high percentages of their populations, will that be enough to persuade Biden’s team to lift the UK travel ban?

The UK’s proximity to and links with mainland Europe mean there are still fears Britain could follow in the footsteps of countries like Italy and France, currently experiencing third waves of Covid.

And it was in the UK that one of the new contagious variants was first detected.

A spokesperson for the CDC said they had no updates to share on when the US will lift the current UK travel ban.

CNN Travel reached out to the White House for comment, but did not receive a response.

Tony Johnston, head of the department of hospitality, tourism and leisure studies at Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland, suggests that the US has less immediate need to reestablish inbound international tourism than other destinations.

“America’s accelerated delivery of vaccines is aimed primarily at a wider reopening of their domestic society and economy,” says Johnston.

“Many millions of Americans depend on tourism and hospitality jobs but the strength of the domestic tourism market in the USA insulated many of these jobs to some extent from the border restrictions and closures.”

That said, Johnston suggests other factors could motivate the US to allow international vacationers and business travelers to return.

“While the domestic tourism market dwarfs the international inbound market in the USA, there will be strong political and industry pressure to reopen borders to welcome back international visitors,” says Johnston.

‘I’m dead set on going to the US’

Visitors at the Grand Canyon, a popular tourist destination, in August 2020.

Visitors at the Grand Canyon, a popular tourist destination, in August 2020.

DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Amid the continued uncertainty surrounding international vacations, many British people are planning to holiday within the UK this summer. But some are still hoping for an American adventure.

Saurav Dutt, an author and corporate consultant based in the UK, says he’s “desperate” to vacation in the US this summer.

“To celebrate my 40th this year I’m dead set on going to the US, particularly LA, Vegas, Nashville, Memphis (big Elvis fan) and round it off with Mississippi,” Dutt tells CNN Travel.

Dutt’s not booked his flights yet — he’s holding off until that May 17 date is confirmed — but as soon as he’s got the go-ahead, he’ll confirm his booking.

If the UK/US travel corridor does reopen, exactly which transatlantic flights will be available — and what these flights will cost — is currently uncertain.

“Before the pandemic British Airways connected Britain directly with 25+ US cities. For more than a year we have been only flying to a handful, with a dramatically reduced frequency,” says British Airways’ Sean Doyle.

Doyle said BA was “working hard to bring our operations back up to speed, but what we do is highly complex so it’s vital that we hear more as soon as possible in order to safely re-start, with time to plan effectively.”

His words were echoed by Shai Weiss, who says Virgin Atlantic is also running fewer flights right now, but plans to recommence currently-out-of-action routes from London Heathrow to Las Vegas, Seattle, Washington DC, Orlando and San Francisco “later this year.”

As he’s hoping to travel to the US to celebrate a landmark birthday, Dutt’s not too concerned about costly flights, but he knows prices could be steep.

“The amounts could be astronomical, especially as the US is never considered a budget-friendly holiday,” he says.

Still, Dutt reckons that — despite the current uncertainty and potential cost — his US vacation is a more achievable goal than a summer 2021 trip to mainland Europe.

He’s also had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and he acknowledges this is a “significant factor” in his vacation ambitions.

“The US has, like the UK, been on top of vaccinations per hundred residents, and is as aggressive on this front as we are,” Dutt says.

“We haven’t booked yet, as we’re nervous about having to cancel plans if we aren’t able to travel.”

Sabilah Eboo Alwani, British traveler hoping to visit the US

Sabilah Eboo Alwani, a doctoral researcher in education and early childhood at the University of Cambridge, is also hoping to travel to the US from the UK this summer.

“We’re hoping to visit my sister and her husband, who we won’t have seen in a year and a half by then. We have small children, so we’d like to go for a few weeks to make it worth all of the jet lag they’ll have to suffer!” she tells CNN Travel.

Eboo Alwani and her partner have also had the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and they should have had the second by the time they plan to travel. Meanwhile, her sister and brother-in-law in San Francisco are fully vaccinated.

Like Dutt, this makes her more confident the trip might happen. But Eboo Alwani’s still holding off on purchasing the plane tickets.

“We haven’t booked yet, as we’re nervous about having to cancel plans if we aren’t able to travel.”

For Eboo Alwani and her family, it’s not just a case of getting the go-ahead from the UK government — the family will also take into consideration the conditions of the travel corridor reopening.

“I don’t know if we would be able to consider traveling if there were a hotel-based quarantine requirement,” she says, pointing to the steep expense, and the difficulties associated with quarantining with two young children.

Eboo Alwani is hoping the trip will happen, but unlike Dutt, she’s not convinced traveling to the US will be easier than visiting European destinations.

“I imagine it would be easier to visit Europe if one could show a vaccination card or certificate,” she says. “The US has been strict on Covid-related border control.”

American perspective

elizabeth prairie tz

Elizabeth Prairie vacationed in London during the November 2020 lockdown.

Courtesy Elizabeth Prairie

Throughout the pandemic, it’s been easier for Americans to visit the UK than vice versa, but the prospect of quarantine and the UK’s ongoing lockdown restrictions is enough to put off most.

Marketing entrepreneur Elizabeth Prairie vacationed in London during England’s November lockdown. Before she departed New York, she knew there would be restrictions in place, but the country moved to full lockdown during her visit.

While Prairie made the most of the experience — abandoning plans for al fresco dining and trips on the London Eye in favor of autumnal walks and takeout — she recently postponed an upcoming spring trip until June 2021, the date when England’s scheduled to fully reopen.

“Even though I am now fully vaccinated, with the restrictions of multiple Covid tests needed and a quarantine, it wasn’t worth taking the trip now with only outdoor dining open,” Prairie tells CNN Travel.

Travel agency Skyscanner said the top destinations booked by US travelers since April 1 were all in North America, but interest in international destinations was returning.

“Popular international destinations searched by US travelers on Skyscanner in the last month include Singapore, Tokyo, London and Madrid, suggesting that Americans are eager to get back to long-haul travel and experiencing the diversity the world has to offer once again,” said Mark Crossey, US travel expert at Skyscanner, in a statement.

Managing expectations

For now, would-be-transatlantic-travelers and industry stakeholders are playing a waiting game.

Maggi Smit, managing director of UK-based US tour operator America as You Like It, says her company has seen “definite interest” from British people hoping to vacation in the US this summer and that those with existing bookings were “holding out hope.”

“But people [are] wary of committing until they know they will definitely be able to travel,” Smit adds.

Virgin Atlantic’s Shai Weiss says there’s been an “uptick in recent weeks” in UK-US summer bookings, but that most travelers are opting for dates later in the year.

“Favorite destinations like Florida and iconic cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are performing well, particularly in the latter part of the year and into 2022,” he says.

Meanwhile, Alan Wilson, who runs US travel company Bon Voyage, says the majority of his recent bookings have been for 2022 or 2023.

“There has been a marked uptick in inquiries and bookings over the past several weeks, but it is hardly surprising that most would rather be sure of a holiday going ahead in 2022 and beyond rather than wondering if their 2021 arrangements will actually happen,” he says.

“The feedback we are getting from our customers is that they are very keen to travel as soon as possible however they don’t want to commit to booking anything for 2021 until there is an announcement about when the borders will be reopened,” says North American Travel Service’s Ruby Briggs.

“Once that happens, we feel very confident that there will be a surge of inquiries/demand for immediate travel although the longer it takes for that announcement to happen, the smaller that surge will be because people will have already made commitments to stay within the UK this year.”



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Manchester City stunned by 10-man Leeds United


Man City looked far more likely to get the winner after Ferran Torres had equalized for the home side, but Dallas’ breakaway goal in stoppage time handed Leeds the win.

It was the fourth league defeat of the season for Pep Guardiola’s Man City, which is 14 points clear at the top of the table ahead of a crucial Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund next week.

Leeds had only two shots throughout Saturday’s game compared to City’s 29, but it proved enough to get the win and move into the top half of the table.

“It’s a great result for us,” Dallas told BT Sport. “It was tough out there today. It’s hard enough against any team with 11 men, never mind against Man City with 10.

“It was difficult, we had to dig in and I thought we defended really, really well.”

Dallas (left) scores the winner past Ederson.

Dallas gave Leeds the lead in the first half when his low shot from the edge of the box rolled in off the post.

But when Cooper’s challenge on Gabriel Jesus was upgraded from a yellow to a red card just before halftime following a video assistant referee review, Leeds looked set to face a long 45 minutes against the standout side in the Premier League this season.

Torres eventually got the equalizer when he found space in the box and converted Bernardo Silva’s pass, and City continued to pile pressure on the Leeds goal in the game’s final 15 minutes.

But the visiting side, which has contested a number of high-scoring games since being promoted to the Premier League, defended stubbornly.

Raphinha found himself through on goal late on, only to be tackled superbly by City goalkeeper Ederson.

Moments later, however, Dallas got the winner from another Leeds break when he slotted his shot through Ederson’s legs.

Leeds condemned Man City to its fourth Premier League defeat of the season.

It was Pep Guardiola’s first defeat to a side managed by Marcelo Bielsa — two coaches who share a close relationship and hold each other in high regard.

City now travels to Dortmund in a bid to reach the Champions League semifinals after a 2-1 victory in the first leg.

With four trophies up for grabs this season, it needs just 11 points to wrap up the Premier League title.

Leeds, meanwhile, faces a difficult run of games with Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur being three of its next four opponents.

But after beating Man City at the Etihad, Bielsa’s side will feel it can beat anyone.

Reds leave it late

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Liverpool ended a run of six consecutive Premier League defeats at Anfield with a 2-1 comeback victory against Aston Villa.

Liverpool, which suffered a humiliating 7-2 defeat against Villa last October, trailed at the break after a goal from Ollie Watkins, while Roberto Firmino’s strike on the stroke of halftime was also ruled out by a marginal offside in the buildup.

Mohamed Salah equalized when he headed in Andy Robertson’s saved shot and the game looked set to end as a draw until Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb stoppage time strike handed the Reds a much-needed victory at Anfield.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (right) is congratulated by Jurgen Klopp after scoring the winner against Aston Villa.

Salah’s goal was the first Liverpool had scored at home in the league since February 7, but Jurgen Klopp’s men appear to be putting that miserable run of form behind them with a run of three consecutive Premier League victories.

The result lifts Liverpool, which will try and overturn a 3-1 deficit against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals next week, to fourth in the table, while Villa is 10th, a place below Leeds.



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