Violence has surged across the country in recent months after the Taliban launched a sweeping assault just days after the US-led foreign forces began their final withdrawal.
Speaking to reporters Sunday in Kabul, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Army Central Command, said, “The United States has increased airstrikes in the support of Afghan forces over the last several days, and we are prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks.”
McKenzie acknowledged the Afghan government will face tough days ahead.
“The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign. They are wrong,” he said. “Taliban victory is not inevitable,” he said, adding that the US military will continue giving logistical support to the Afghan Air Force even after its foreign forces are expected to leave the country on August 31.
“We will continue to support the Afghan forces even after that August 31 date, it will generally be from over the horizon,” McKenzie said.
The US military carried out two strikes against Taliban targets on Thursday in support of Afghan forces in the Kandahar province, multiple defense officials said. Three of the last four strikes by the US targeted captured equipment, one defense official said. This included US equipment transferred to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces that the Taliban then captured as it advanced throughout the country.
The airstrikes come amid a heightened Taliban push to seize territory and a parallel bid to reignite diplomatic moves for a negotiated end to the war. A Taliban spokesperson on Friday condemned US airstrikes in Kandahar and Helmand provinces as “barbaric attacks” that “will have consequences.” The spokesperson said, “The Islamic Emirate condemns these barbaric attacks in the strongest terms.”
McKenzie on Sunday vowed to support the Afghan Air Force going forward, and said the US Air Force will also retain the ability to “strike into Afghanistan” against two other groups, ISIS and al Qaeda.
McKenzie said it will be clear in the next “days and weeks” if the Afghan government will be able to defend the country from the Taliban.
He added: “I don’t think it’s going to be an easy path … [but] I do not accept the narrative that there is going to be a civil war of necessity.”
On Sunday, fighting continued on the outskirts of Kandahar. AFP reports McKenzie acknowledged that the US Air Force had carried out airstrikes in the province in recent days. Kandahar, with 650,000 inhabitants, is the second-largest city in Afghanistan after Kabul.

Two police officers and bystanders saved an 8-month-old baby who became trapped underneath a car after a driver hit a 36-year-old mother and her baby in Yonkers, New York, according to a press release from the Yonkers Police Department.

London Metropolitan Police said the flooding had caused “severe disruption” on the North Circular Road, one of the major roads surrounding central London.
Several London Underground train stations were heavily flooded, disrupting services.
The “significant flooding” affected services across the transport network,” a Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNN.
Multiple stations on the rail network known as the Tube were closed, according to the TfL website.
“With multiple bus routes on diversion and some Tube and rail services affected and stations closed, we strongly advise that customers check for the latest information before they travel to ensure they have a safe and smooth journey,” the TfL spokesperson said.
A car is pushed through floodwaters in London's Nine Elms district.
Two London-area hospitals, Newham University Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital, were affected by the rains.
A spokesperson for Barts Health NHS Trust told CNN in a statement that both hospitals are experiencing operational issues due to the heavy rainfall.
“We are working closely with our local partners to resolve the issues and maintain patient care and — while services remain available for people in an emergency — patients are asked to attend alternative hospitals where they can, to help us put solutions in place as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.
A pedestrian walks through a flooded area in St James's Park in central London on Sunday.A pedestrian walks through a flooded area in St James's Park in central London on Sunday.
In the Worcester Park area, social media video emerged of cars stuck in the floodwaters and rescue boats working in the area.
The London Fire Brigade said in a tweet that it had received hundreds of calls reporting flooding across London.
“We have now taken more than 600 calls to flooding incidents, including flooding to roads & properties, reports of ceilings collapsing & vehicles stuck in water. Crews used specialist water rescue equipment to rescue five people from a car stuck in flood water in #WorcesterPark,” the brigade said.
CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said that the storms that erupted over London and southern England on Sunday came on the heels of record heat on Friday.
“That very warm air collided with an area of low pressure near northern France. This resulted the slow-moving storms the produced the deluges and prompted the UK Met Service to issue an Amber alert for storms with 75 to 100 mm (3 to 4 inches) of rain expected,” he said. “A half-dozen flood warnings remain in effect as runoff causes rivers to rise. The heaviest of the rain should move out by Monday morning.”


CNN
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Three people were killed and five more were injured in a series of unrelated shootings in Seattle early Sunday, according to police.

The four incidents all took place within three hours, the Seattle Police Department said in a release.

The first occurred around 1:48 a.m. outside of a bar in the Belltown neighborhood. A bar employee reported a fight in the bar that had moved into the street and parking lot. When responding, police heard gunshots and found a man suffering from gunshot wounds who was declared deceased after lifesaving attempts, according to the release.

Around 2:30 a.m., police responded to reports of a shooting about two miles south in Occidental Square, where they found two men suffering from gunshot wounds. One was taken to hospital while the other was declared dead at the scene, according to the release. Three more victims were transported in personal vehicles from that location, one of whom died in the hospital from injuries, the release said.

A woman with a gunshot wound to the stomach that was not life-threatening arrived at a hospital in Bellevue outside Seattle around 3:30 a.m. She told investigators she had been shot in Seattle and police determined the shooting occurred around 1:40 a.m., the release said. The shooting occurred roughly two miles from the second shooting in the Chinatown-International District.

The final incident occurred around 4:40 a.m. with 911 calls reporting shots fired at Cal Anderson Park, according to the release. A man with a gunshot wound arrived at Harborview Medical Center and said he had been shot after playing a basketball game, the release said.

Police said detectives are investigating all of the separate incidents and are asking anyone with information on any of the shootings to reach out to the crime tip line.



CNN
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With more medals set to be awarded at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, here are just some of the events that viewers can check out this weekend. (Remember, Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time in the US.)

Swimming: The swimming qualifying heats continue in the women’s 400-meter freestyle and men’s and women’s 100-meter backstroke at 6 a.m. ET. Medals are awarded in the women’s 100-meter butterfly, men’s 100-meter breaststroke, women’s 400-meter freestyle and others, starting at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Basketball: Team USA takes on France in men’s basketball at 8 a.m. ET. Fans will be able to watch on NBC at 4 p.m. ET.

Triathlon: The men’s triathlon final will be live at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Gymnastics: Night owls in the US were able to catch the qualifying rounds for women’s gymnastics beginning at 2:10 a.m. ET, but NBC will air primetime coverage later on at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Softball: As the sport returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, Team USA faces Japan in an opening round game of the Olympic softball tournament at 9 p.m. ET.

Here’s your full guide on how to watch the Olympics and the entire schedule. In between watching events, check out our gallery of the most memorable photos of the Games so far.

Team USA had an eight-point lead with four minutes left in the game, but the French team mounted a 16-2 run, highlighted by leading scorer Evan Fournier’s go-ahead 3-pointer with less than a minute left to seal the win. It was the opening game for both teams.
The loss is Team USA’s first since the team lost to Argentina in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
US head coach Gregg Popovich said he was “disappointed” in the loss, but not necessarily surprised.
“When you lose a game, you’re not surprised, you’re disappointed. I don’t understand the word surprise. That sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we were supposed to beat them by 30 or something,” Popovich said.
From left, Zachary Lavine, Jrue Holiday, Bam Adebayo, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and head coach Gregg Popovich of Team USA look on in disbelief during their game against France on Sunday, July 25.
Team USA is the most successful nation in men’s Olympic basketball, having won all but four Olympic gold medals since basketball was introduced as a sport at the Games in 1936.
However, the Americans stumbled into the Tokyo Olympics, losing two of their exhibition games before Sunday’s loss, and have now lost three of their last four.
“We have to be more consistent. We had two nine-point leads and one 10-point lead, and then an eight-point lead at the end of the game, and we gave all of those up because of lack of consistent defense, too many errors,” Popovich said. “We had, on offense, dry possessions where we didn’t move and took ill-advised shots. So you understand it, you look at it, and you go to work and you try to get better.”
The latest on the Tokyo Olympics  The latest on the Tokyo Olympics
Despite pulling off the upset victory, France center Rudy Gobert said, “I mean it’s great, but, until we have what we want to have around our neck, it doesn’t really matter.” Gobert finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Fournier, who scored 28 points, expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “It is a big win for us obviously, but we have to move on and show people back home that these guys can be beaten.”
“With the right coach, the right mentality, the right work, you can compete against anyone, and it is not because we are a small country we should have any complexes. We are just as big as anyone you just have to believe,” Fournier said.
Both teams return to the court on Wednesday with the US scheduled to play Iran, and the French team facing off against Czech Republic.

Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.



CNN
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In what can only be seen as a “when pigs fly” moment, I’m in 100% agreement with a Trump-loving, Biden-hating right-winger in New Jersey over a contested political issue of the day.

Dean Obeidallah

No, I don’t agree with Andrea Dick’s baseless view that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. But I absolutely agree that she has the right to post signs on her front lawn that express how much she hates President Biden, even a sign (or in this case, three signs) that read: “F**K Biden.” (To be clear, there are no asterisks in her signs, the F-word is on full display.)

Dick, who lives in Roselle Park, a New Jersey borough less than 20 miles from New York City and home to about 13,000 people, posted 10 signs in all on her front lawn after Memorial Day, turning it into a hate Biden/pro-Trump shrine of sorts. She told the New York Times, “Something must have gotten me worked up.” (You think?!)

Not all the signs contained curse words, but the ones that did sparked complaints by neighbors and parents given the signs are close to a school. It wasn’t long until Dick received a summons from the Roselle Park municipal government for violation of a local ordinance that bans “any obscene material, communication or performance or other article or item which is obscene within the Borough.” Dick’s refusal to remove the signs led to a trial in municipal court.

On July 15, the Roselle Park municipal judge found Dick guilty of violating the ordinance, but gave her a week to remove the signs that contained profanity before a fine of $250 a day would be imposed. The judge cited the proximity to the school as a factor for his decision, adding, “the case is not a case about politics. It is a case, pure and simple, about language” that violated the local ordinance.

But Dick is digging in her heels, telling the New York Times on Monday, “It’s my First Amendment right and I’m going to stick with that.”

I’m sure some may feel inclined to support the town against the Trump-loving Dick. Her opposition to moving the signs – even if school children see it on way to school – sounds like simply more of the selfishness that has come to define Trumpism. But in this case Dick is correct – and I don’t just mean from a legal point of view.

In our nation, freedom of expression about political issues and leaders must be protected. This is especially true when it comes to criticizing the president. It’s part of the lifeblood of our republic.

That’s why when then-candidate Trump called for “Saturday Night Live” to be canceled in October 2016 because he objected to how they were mocking him during the campaign, I was very vocal in raising alarm bells of how Trump’s response was truly un-American. The same was true in March 2019 when he called for “retribution” against the iconic comedy show for jokes made at his expense. The government banning criticism of its leader – including comedic in nature – is cut right from the dictator’s playbook.

The US Supreme Court has thankfully long afforded wide protection to free speech when it comes to political issues as well as criticism of political figures. As the Court wrote in the 1964 landmark First Amendment case of New York Times v. Sullivan, “debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

And in 1971, in Cohen v. California, a case dealing with a man being criminally prosecuted for wearing a jacket that read, “F**k the Draft” (again with the F-word written out), the Supreme Court struck down the conviction as a violation of the First Amendment. In that opinion, the court warned that in areas of political debate, the “government might soon seize upon the censorship of particular words as a convenient guise for banning the expression of unpopular views.” The court also noted that people offended by the curse word “could effectively avoid further bombardment of their sensibilities by averting their eyes.”

That’s why It’s no surprise that the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union recently signed on to appeal Dick’s case and fight for her freedom of speech rights.

Is displaying a profane sign an effective way to convince people to oppose Biden? Probably not. But as the Supreme Court wrote in the Cohen case: (O)ne man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric” and “because government officials cannot make principled distinctions in this area that the Constitution leaves matters of taste and style so largely to the individual.”

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That’s the way it must be. If you don’t like a president – or any elected official for that matter – the government should not be in the business of policing the words in which we convey our criticism. Anything less means our democracy – which is currently under attack by the GOP’s concerted effort to enact laws to suppress the vote – will be even less robust going forward. And that is bad for all Americans, regardless of political loyalties.