Reason Roundup

The U.S. Quietly Departs Its Largest Military Base in Afghanistan

Plus: Sha'Carri Richardson might miss Olympics over positive pot test, 130 countries agree to broad strokes of a global minimum corporate tax, and more...

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The U.S. military fully departed its largest base in Afghanistan last night, giving the surest sign yet that all American forces could be out of the country by September 11. On Thursday night, American forces stationed at Bagram Airfield quietly left the massive facility, the Associated Press reports.

U.S. troops pulled out of the base without any formal ceremony, or even an attempt to coordinate with local Afghan officials, who are now responsible for Bagram. The hasty withdrawal resulted in a wave of looters rushing the unsecured base and ransacking several buildings before Afghan security forces were able to regain control.

Bagram, first built by the Soviets in the 1950s, served as the center of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. At the height of the American presence there, over 100,000 troops were passing through the base each year. It was infamously home to a detention center, where prisoners captured during the war were held and, on a number of occasions, tortured.

There are currently somewhere between 2,500 and 3,500 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan, although precise numbers are hard to come by given the inconsistent ways that the military tallies up troops in the country. The Biden administration has committed to pulling all these troops out of the country by September 11, save for a couple hundred to guard the U.S. embassy in the capital Kabul. Most troops should be gone by July 4.

That's an extension of the May 1 withdrawal date that the previous Trump administration had committed to.

Most of the 7,000 European troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission there have been withdrawn over the past month, according to the A.P.

Even with most military personnel gone, there's still a distinct possibility that the U.S. will continue smaller-scale, covert operations in the country in order to target Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

The American military troop withdrawal has increased the urgency of addressing the huge backlog of visa applications of Afghans who'd worked with the U.S. military as interpreters, and whose lives are now in danger from a resurgent Taliban.

The Taliban has doubled the amount of Afghanistan it controls over the past several months, NBC News reported last week. The Afghan government's security forces that the U.S. has spent billions of dollars and two decades training have proven ineffective at stopping the group's advance.


FREE MINDS

U.S. sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson might miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana. Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Tyler Dragon says that Richardson is facing a 30-day suspension that would prevent her from participating in the 100-meter dash. Even if suspended, she still would be able to compete in the 4x100-meter relay.

Bleacher Report has more details about Richardson's potential suspension:

Andre Lowe of Jamaica Gleaner reported "traces of the substance" were found in Richardson's sample collected at the Olympic Trials, yet that doesn't mean an automatic suspension is looming.

The World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited substance list includes all natural and synthetic cannabinoids—with the exception of cannabidiol—but specifies those are banned during competition. As Lowe noted, if an athlete can prove they did not use the substance during the trials, they may only be looking at a three-month ban, which could also be reduced if the athlete submits to an approved treatment program.

Should Richardson have her spot on the Olympic team revoked, Jenna Prandini—who placed fourth in the 100-meter—will serve as a replacement.


FREE MARKETS

The Biden administration has gained international support for its plans to create a "global minimum tax." On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports that officials from 130 countries agreed to the broad strokes of a plan that would impose a corporate tax of at least 15 percent wherever a corporation is headquartered.

"Today's agreement by 130 countries representing more than 90% of global GDP is a clear sign: The race to the bottom is one step closer to coming to an end," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who'd been leading the negotiations.

A report from the Tax Foundation notes that most studies have found that the majority of the corporate tax burden, as much as 70 percent, is paid by employees in the form of reduced wages.


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• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) announces the members of the House's select committee that will investigate the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

• A new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that minimum wage increases in Los Angeles were paid for by customers in higher-income neighborhoods. Business owners and commercial landlords primarily absorbed the costs in lower-income areas.

• California gubernatorial candidate Caitlin Jenner suggests the state's homeless could be moved to "big open fields."

• Federal prosecutors have hit the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg, with criminal charges for an alleged multi-year tax fraud scheme. Former President Donald Trump said in a statement that the charges were a "political Witch Hunt by the Radical Left Democrats."

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