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Bomb-sniffing dogs that were left behind at Kabul airport in US withdrawal now work for Taliban | Daily Mail Online

Bomb-sniffing dogs that were left behind at Kabul airport in US withdrawal now work for Taliban | Daily Mail Online

Bomb-sniffing dogs that were left behind at Kabul airport during the chaotic US withdrawal now work for Taliban contractors who rescued them from cages. Dozens of dogs were discovered in US forces and Afghan police zones of the airport by employees of a company contracted to handle site security. The workers are now training the dogs before putting them back to work as the airport gradually reopens following a month-long shut down after the Taliban swept to power on August 15. While it is unclear who the dogs belonged to, many were found in the section of the airport that was used by American forces, and some were trained to sniff out explosives, their new handlers say. The animals are among the remnants of the two-decade American intervention which ended with the hurried airlift of more than 120,000 people from Kabul in August. Dozens of dogs left behind during last month’s chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan have found a new home, and new handlers, in a makeshift training centre at Kabul airport The dogs, found in Kabul Airport following the US withdrawal on August 30, are thought to be trained to sniff out explosives The dogs are being cared for by handler Hewad Azizi, who works for a company handling security at the airport, who started searching for abandoned animals as the chaotic US-led evacuation came to an end on August 30 The dogs are now being fed, cared for and trained by Hewad Azizi, who works for a company handling security at the airport, and his colleagues at the security company’s training centre, housed in two converted shipping containers separated by a weed-strewn strip of earth. He said he went out looking for abandoned dogs as soon as the last US soldier left. ‘When I saw [the soldiers leaving] I went to save the dogs,’ Azizi said at the training centre, which faces hangars that were used for US planes and military equipment. He found 30 – half of them in the area that was controlled by US forces. More were found in zones that belonged to former Afghan police. The dogs are now being fed, cared for and trained by Azizi and his colleagues at the security company’s training centre, housed in two converted shipping containers separated by a weed-strewn strip of earth. The United States pulled its final troops out of Afghanistan on August 30, ending America’s longest war just ahead of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks that prompted the US-led invasion. Hours after the last soldier left, animal rights group PETA said in a statement that 60 bomb-sniffing dogs and 60 other ‘working dogs’ were left behind by the US forces. The group appealed to President Joe Biden ‘to take immediate action’, warning that the dogs were ‘suffering in the heat without adequate access to food or water’. At least 30 dogs were found in the airport following the US withdrawal on August 30 – half of them in the area that was controlled by US forces with more were found in zones that belonged to former Afghan police The dogs are now being fed, cared for and trained at the airport security company’s training centre, housed in two converted shipping containers separated by a weed-strewn strip of earth The Pentagon has denied abandoning dogs in cages at the airport during the chaotic evacuation of Kabul in August, but the new handlers claim to have found the animals in a US forces zone The Pentagon quickly denied that US military personnel abandoned some of their dogs at the airport. ‘To correct erroneous reports, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs,’ Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tweeted. Azizi and his colleagues are not sure about the identity of the previous owners. All they are focusing on now is how to put them back to work when the airport returns to normal. ‘We have done training with them to find out what they are used for exactly,’ he explained, adding that they have realised ‘they are bomb dogs’. The dogs new handlers are focused on putting the dogs, thought to be able to sniff out explosives, back to work at the airport as commercial flights resume The dogs handlers have been testing the animals’ ability to sniff out explosives, planting items that smell like bombs in a wasteland of littered h bullet cases and empty bags of US military meal rations The dogs were found in cages in US Forces and former Afghan police zones of the airport after the chaotic evacuation of Kabul came to an end on August 30 Soon the dogs will be put to work as the airport, which shut for repairs after the evacuations, gradually reopens Azizi’s favourite dog, Rex, a dark brown Malinois, is one of the recent discoveries. Every day, he takes Rex for a walk in a small deserted area a few metres away from three old Afghan Air Force planes. In a small stretch of land littered with bullet cases and empty bags of US military meal rations, he hides a box that smells like explosives and sends Rex to find it. Seconds later, Rex returns with the box and is given a ball to play with as a reward. ‘We train them to see how we can use them,’ explained Mohamad Mourid, a supervisor at the centre which operates under the umbrella of GAAC, the UAE-based company handling ground and security operations at the airport since last year. ‘We feed them, give them water, and clean them.’ Soon the dogs will be put to work as the airport, which shut for repairs after the evacuations, gradually reopens.

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NYC Students Return To School As New COVID-19 Measures Take Effect : NPR

Enlarge this image A girl leads her mother and brothers as they arrive at Brooklyn’s PS 245 on Monday in New York. Classroom doors are swinging open for about a million New York City public school students in the nation’s largest experiment of in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption
toggle caption Mark Lennihan/AP
A girl leads her mother and brothers as they arrive at Brooklyn’s PS 245 on Monday in New York. Classroom doors are swinging open for about a million New York City public school students in the nation’s largest experiment of in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Lennihan/AP NEW YORK — School started Monday for about a million New York City public school students in the nation’s largest experiment of in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
The first day of school coincided with several milestones in the city’s pandemic recovery that hinge on vaccine mandates.
Nearly all of the city’s 300,000 employees were required to be back in their workplaces, in person, Monday as the city ended remote work. Most will either need to be vaccinated, or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing to remain in their jobs.
The city was also set to start enforcing rules requiring workers and patrons to be vaccinated to go indoors at restaurants, museums, gyms and entertainment venues. The vaccination requirement has been in place for weeks, but had not previously been enforced.
There will also be a vaccine mandate — with no test-out option — for teachers , though they have been given until Sept. 27 to get their first shot.
There’s no remote option for NYC public school students Unlike some school districts across the country that are still offering online instruction to families that prefer it, New York City officials provided no remote option despite the persistence of the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19.
Back To School: Live Updates It’s Back-To-School Season In NYC. Here’s How 3 Moms Are Handling It New York City kept schools open for most of the last school year, with some students doing a mix of remote and in-person instruction, but the majority of families chose all-remote learning. That choice won’t be available this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio has insisted.
“There are kids who have not been in a classroom in a year and a half, and they deserve better,” de Blasio said Monday. “Kids need to be back in school for their mental health, their physical health, their ability to develop socially, and for so many reasons.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited a Bronx elementary school and appeared remotely at the mayor’s briefing to praise the city’s school opening plan. “They did it right, and I know this is going to be an awesome year for New York, for everyone,” Cardona said.
Masks are required, as are vaccinations for some sports Masks will be required for all students and staff members, as is the case in schools across New York state.
Samiya Ramdial’s mask was firmly in place for the start of first grade at Public School 33 in Manhattan — and so were her spiffy black sneakers.
“These are great shoes,” Samiya said. “I can dance in these.”
Under the city’s blended learning model, Samiya was in kindergarten in person part-time last year and learned remotely the rest of the time.
“She preferred in person of course, because she got to see her friends, and she enjoys being with the teachers as well,” her mother, Christina Brea, said.
Enlarge this image A girl has her temperature checked as she arrives for the first day of school at Brooklyn’s PS 245 elementary school on Monday in New York. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption
toggle caption Mark Lennihan/AP
A girl has her temperature checked as she arrives for the first day of school at Brooklyn’s PS 245 elementary school on Monday in New York.
Mark Lennihan/AP There is no vaccine mandate for students 12 and over who are eligible for inoculations, but vaccinations will be required to participate in contact sports like football and basketball as well as some extracurricular activities like band practice and theater. About two-thirds of the city’s 12-to-17-year-olds are currently vaccinated.
In the U.S., anyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine chief said last week he is hopeful children as young as 5 will be eligible to get vaccinated by the end of 2021.
Teachers and parents are pushing back De Blasio, a Democrat in his final months in office, has insisted that masks, cleaning protocols and random COVID-19 testing makes school buildings safe. But he has gotten pushback both from parents who want their children home and from unions representing teachers and other school staff members.
The city has been in arbitration with the United Federation of Teachers, which represents almost 80,000 teachers in city public schools, over issues including accommodations for teachers who say they have health issues that prevent them from being vaccinated.
The arbitrator ruled late Friday that the city must offer non-classroom assignments to teachers who aren’t vaccinated because of medical and religious exemptions.
Enlarge this image A mother gives her son a kiss as he arrives for the first day of class at Brooklyn’s PS 245 elementary school on Monday, in New York. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption
toggle caption Mark Lennihan/AP
A mother gives her son a kiss as he arrives for the first day of class at Brooklyn’s PS 245 elementary school on Monday, in New York.
Mark Lennihan/AP Under the school system’s coronavirus protocols, if there is a a positive case in an elementary school classroom, students in the class will receive remote instruction while quarantining for 10 days. In middle schools and high schools, only unvaccinated students will quarantine.
De Blasio said he does not expect many classrooms to close.
“We do not expect to see anywhere near the kind of closures or classroom disruptions that we saw last year,” he said Monday.
City and workers clash over full-time return to the office Meanwhile, other unions for city workers have objected to the mayor’s decision to order employees back into workplaces, saying that if they were performing their jobs well remotely, they should be allowed to continue.
“The way that this full-time return to office was rolled out with less than two weeks notice has been the part that has been so disorienting,” said Ashley Firestone, who works for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs.
“There are so many aspects of this that have not been considered and thoughtful in a humane or empathic way to the humanity of the workers that have been putting themselves on the line for the last 18 months on behalf of the city,” she added.
Some city employees like Yvette Santiago had been back to work on a limited basis. But the mandatory full-time return will require some adjustment.
“The return to work has been a little anxious,” said Santiago, the director of the Department for the Aging. “I’m just trying to adjust.”
The Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella group for unions representing municipal workers, has also threatened legal action if the mayor moves to eliminate the option of weekly virus testing for workers who opt not to get vaccinated.
Around the city, enforcement of vaccine mandates began The outbreak had disrupted much of public life, including the shuttering of restaurants and other gathering places. City officials have pushed for vaccinations to prevent the further spread of the virus, particularly more highly transmittable variants that could prompt another round of mass closures.
On Monday, the city began enforcing its vaccine mandate at indoor eateries, museums, gyms and entertainment venues.
At the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan, lines formed at the door as patrons swiped through phone apps or dug into their wallets for their proof of vaccination.
And a group of restaurant and bar owners has sued over the vaccination requirement for indoor dining and employees, saying the city has overstepped its legal authority.
Allison Torres, a server at Court Square Diner in Queens, had turned away nearly a dozen customers by midmorning, including a regular.
“I’m sorry, today is when they go strict,” she explained to a couple of young men before turning them away because they did not have proof they’ve been vaccinated.
“We’re definitely going to lose business,” Torres said. “I’m going to lose money and my boss is going to lose money.”
Torres said the diner would follow the rules “because they’re the rules — but we don’t have to like it.”

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