May 19, 2022

U.S. Troops Exiting Afghanistan; Group Marches After Brutal Attack On Asian Man in N.Y.; Hundreds Of Joshes In Mock Fight; Cook County Vaccination Walk-ins Soon; Chicago Bakery To Host Event.  

U.S. Military Starts Complete Withdrawal From Afghanistan


The U.S. military has started to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. A top American commander confirmed the report. He also shared that this marks the start of the end of the almost 20-year-old war in the country.

At a news conference held at the U.S. military’s headquarters in Kabul, Gen. Austin S. Miller spoke with Afghan journalists. The head of the U.S.-led coalition said: “I now have a set of orders. We will conduct an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan, and that means transitioning bases and equipment to the Afghan security forces.”

The general’s remarks come after President Biden’s announcement a couple of weeks ago that all U.S. forces will be vacating the country by September 11th. It marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that initiated the long war between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

The top commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan also shared that “Officially, the notification date will be the first of May, but at the same time, as we start taking local actions, we have already begun that.”

Previously, Trump’s administration set a deadline on May 1st to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country. The deadline was part of a deal it had struck in February 2020 with the Taliban. But as of this writing, the U.S. military still has around 3,500 troops in the country.

When Biden took over Trump’s role, he decided to keep that promise but moved the timeline for removal. Unfortunately, he hasn’t obtained explicit approval from the Taliban.

As Biden shared earlier this month, “We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely. And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do.”

As of this writing, there are still around 7,000 NATO and allied forces in the country that are supporting U.S. troops. But the NATO forces will likely withdraw support like the United States.

The expected withdrawal of 18,000 private military contractors in Afghanistan will have the U.S. leaving behind military equipment that Afghan troops will use.  The Pentagon shares that it will continue to support Afghan forces after it withdraws. But this support will no longer include boots-on-the-ground involvement.

Group Marches In New York After Brutal Attack On Asian Man


Another Asian man was brutally attacked Friday night in New York City. The man, identified as Yao Pan Ma, 61, was seen collecting cans when someone pushed him from behind and started stomping on his head. The incident was captured in a 13-second surveillance video in the East Harlem neighborhood of the city.

Ma is currently in a coma after being brought to a hospital after the attack.

Earlier today, dozens of people marched through Manhattan to the site where Ma was attacked.

Ma’s wife, Baozhen Chen, shares: “I’m very scared right now. I’m so worried that my husband might never come back.” 

The couple left China in 2018 to seek a better life in the United States. Ma had been employed at a restaurant as a dishwasher. But due to the pandemic, he lost his job.  As a result, Ma had resorted to collecting empty bottles and cans for money since he was ineligible for unemployment.  

Chen shared that she feels “very panicked and sad.” She describes her husband as a “very hardworking and nice person.”

The couple’s neighbors were shocked to hear about the assault and said they are “good people.” 

One of the individuals in attendance of today’s march, Jason Wu, shared that he is “family with the Chinese Asian community.” Wu says that he wants to “stand in solidarity and protect each other.”

According to reports, Ma is in critical but stable condition. 

As of this writing, the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force has started to look into the case. They are trying to identify whether Ma was targeted over his race. 

The incident is the latest attack related to the rising number of anti-Asian hate crimes in the country. A recent study discovered that there had been an increase of almost 150% of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020. Throughout the country, New York has the highest number of reports. 

“You know, as a New Yorker, it’s really hard to watch and to see New Yorkers turning on each other like that,” shares Jo-Ann Yoo, the Asian American Federation’s executive director. 

Police have released images from the video to help identify the suspect. 

A GoFundMe account has also been started to help the family. 

Hundreds Of People Named Josh Engage In Mock Fight In Nebraska


How many Joshes do you know in your life?

In this bizarre gathering, hundreds of Joshes showed up at a park in Nebraska on Sunday to determine who the ultimate Josh is.

The whole thing started a year ago at the height of the pandemic. A bored Josh Swain, 22, from Tucson, AZ, turned to his Facebook account to reach out to the other Josh Swains on the social media site and challenged them to a duel.

In his group chat with other people with the same name as his, Swain said: “We fight, whoever wins gets to keep the name, everyone else has to change their name. You have a year to prepare; good luck.”

Swain wasn’t serious about fighting, but since it got picked up and became viral on social media, lots of people chimed in as well. Ever since then, the planning for the first #JoshFight hasn’t stopped.

And true enough, hundreds of people flocked to Air Park in Lincoln for a day of fun. 

Before a pool noodle brawl started, Josh Swain from AZ and another Josh Swain from Omaha, NE, played a “grueling and righteous battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors.” The Josh Swain that won, in the end, was the original organizer of the whole uproar. He was able to win the title of the true Josh Swain.

After that, they all had a pool noodle competition with anyone with a Josh first name. At the end of the brawl, the winner emerged with a paper crown on his head. The game-winner was four-year-old Joshua Vinson Jr. He won bragging rights and received a Burger King crown.

Swain, the organizer, was surprised about how this whole thing gained traction. “I did not expect people to be as adamant about this as they are right now.”

Another Josh who attended, Josh Kelsey, said that he drove from St. Louis. “I was expecting 30 people at max. This is insane.”

The event attendees were able to donate 200 to 300 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Lincoln. They were also able to raise over $8,000 for the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation in Omaha.  


Cook County Mass Vaccination Sites To Start Accepting Walk-Ins Soon

As a way of encouraging more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, officials have now opened the option for a new walk-in option to residents of Cook County. By making this option available, individuals who have trouble booking a vaccine appointment online will have a more accessible choice.

Officials say that they have already started to accept walk-ins for those who wish to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot at the United Center. A couple of mass vaccination sites in the suburbs also began operating their program from Wednesday to Saturday. The officials believe that there will be a total of four additional locations outside the city that will accept walk-in participants.

Iliana Mora, Cook County Health’s Chief Operating Officer shared the news to the media: 

“We piloted walk-in appointments at two mass vaccination sites this week, Matteson and Tinley Park. They went great.”

After seeing successful results in these two sites, the health officials of Cook County are confident and comfortable with the idea to expand.

Mora says that the mass vaccination sites at Forest Park, Des Plaines, South Suburban College, and Triton College will soon accept walk-ins too. And with these sites, residents have an option to “walk in at any one” of these mass vaccination sites. 

Most of these sites will be offering two of the three approved vaccines: Moderna or Pfizer. Since the temporary pause on the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been lifted, it could likely return to Tinley Park when it gets the green light.

The use of the J&J vaccine underwent an 11-day pause due to the number of patients who experienced a rare blood clot. But after an investigation, scientific advisers decided that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of these blood clots.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci reminded the public that around “570,000 Americans” have already died due to the virus. “We have an effective vaccine that’s really, very, very safe. That is the reason why you want everyone to get vaccinated.”

According to Dr. Fauci, the decision to step back from the vaccine was necessary to let people know that they “have taken safety very seriously.”

“We are out there trying to combat vaccine hesitancy that is still out there, and one of the real reasons that people have hesitancy is concern about the safety of the vaccine.”

Chicago Bakery To Host Event For A Cause

There’s a bakery in Chicago’s Northwest Side that helps young adults with Autism. Through this initiative, Unique Sweets gets to do its part in helping these individuals be ready for a life ahead of them.

The bakery helps these young adults by assisting them in developing work and social skills through managing the kitchen, learning how to bake, and how to sell their baked goods.

The bakery was founded in 2018 by Liza Curiel. When she started Unique Sweets, she worked from her kitchen. Curiel founded the bakery to help her son Sebastian, who was also diagnosed with Autism. Through her endeavors, she taught her son how to bridge the gap between school and life after that.

“I felt like there was a lack of resources and programs available to him,” shares Curiel. “Unique Sweets was an opportunity for him and his friends to come together and work through life skills and employable skills.” 

Today, the bakery is a social enterprise organization. It is run entirely by volunteers. The employees and bakers of the establishment earn a stipend from the baked items they sell.

Through the bakery, Sebastian, 23, has built a community for other adults with Autism. The people behind Unique Sweets get to learn valuable skills like communication, time management, and customer service.

With the celebration of April as Autism Awareness Month, Curiel believes this is the perfect time to make people accept and learn more about Autism. Curiel says that her goal is to have inclusion, and this is what Unique Sweets hopes to seek– “opportunities for there to be inclusion.” Even with today’s time and age, Curiel gets surprised “by how little people understand about Autism.”

On May 8, the organization hosts a pop-up event called “Coffee and Cakes for a Cause.” They have partnered with several other coffee roasters who also employ adults with Autism and many other disabilities.

If you wish to support the event, you can purchase online at 1829 N. Spaulding. 

The group also has online cooking classes and groups to help connect people with Autism during the health crisis.