Three stories entered the news cycle that have heads reeling.
First, a pair of suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul’s airport, according to reports from the Associated Press. The attacks killed 12 U.S. troops and at least 60 Afghans, Afghan and U.S. officials told the AP. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killings on its Amaq news channel.
The U.S. has said the attacks would not stop the United States from evacuating Americans and others, and flights out were continuing. President Biden denounced the attacks and has vowed retribution.
According to a report in Vermont Business Magazine this week, Vermont National Guard units deployed to U.S. Central Command are serving in support of Operation Allies Refuge.
In fact, a small contingent from the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month to support security operations at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, according to the report. Additional units from 3-172 IN currently support Special Immigration Visa holders processing through locations within U.S. Central Command, the news report states. It is not known whether any Vermonters were affected by the attacks.
Task Force Avalanche, comprised of soldiers from Vermont’s 3-172 IN, as well as individuals from several other states, including New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Colorado, deployed in February, according to the report.
Ironically, the VBM report concludes, “These operations follow through on America’s commitment to Afghan citizens who have helped the United States over the last 20 years.”
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch on Thursday said of the attack: “The cowardly, terrorist attack also took the lives of innocent citizens. … We are all rightly and fiercely proud of our men and women in uniform, including the dedicated members of the Vermont National Guard, who respond to the call of duty, no matter the danger, no matter the peril. “This devastating loss of our brave servicemembers saddens me, as I know it does all Americans. I join in extending our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones.”
We’ll go a step further and say we are keeping Vermonters in Afghanistan right now in our thoughts.
Meanwhile, Kevin McCallum of Seven Days published a report stating that a critique by 91 rank-and-file members of the state’s health department follows similar pressure by lawmakers and legislative leadership for Republican Gov. Phil Scott to do more to address the surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the state.
As of Thursday noon, according to the state’s COVID dashboard, there were 141 new cases; 33 individuals hospitalized with COVID; eight of them were in ICU. There were three new COVID-related deaths, bringing the total up to 273.
The letter was addressed to Health Commissioner Mark Levine and his leadership team.
“The staffers highlighted that the current infection rate was highest among children ages 6 to 11, who are ineligible for vaccination and most of whom are heading back to school this week,” McCallum wrote in Off Message for Seven Days. “These children risk becoming infected by contact with vaccinated family members, teachers and friends who believe that their vaccinations prevent them from contracting and spreading COVID-19, the staffers wrote.”
As we stated earlier this week, the uptick in cases feels pressing, and requires more immediate attention.
Lastly, from South Burlington, where the superintendent there issued a written response to recent allegations of racists threats made against a student in the school district. Superintendent David Young stated late Thursday afternoon that in the incident last March, “a student made an inappropriate, racially insensitive comment, and the teacher validated the behavior by making a further racist remark. The incident was reported to the administration of the high school by a student and an investigation was launched soon thereafter.”
According to the statement, the teacher was placed on leave while the investigation was conducted. “The investigation found that the teacher made a comment suggesting that a 3-D printed object resembling a noose should be hung from the Black Lives Matter flag and concluded that both the teacher and the student who made the original comment had violated the district’s policy on hazing, harassment, and bullying. The teacher admitted the inappropriate behavior, apologized to the administration, the class and the student who brought the complaint, and agreed to accept whatever training and consequences were deemed appropriate,” the statement reads.
The teacher in question announced retirement in June 2021. The incident is being reviewed by a third party, and the district maintains it is reviewing its anti-racism policies. We say, “good.”
This editorial first appeared in the Rutland Herald on Aug. 27.