robert massimi
7 min readAug 26, 2021

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No Bull With Raging Robert.

Robert Massimi.

  • Americans in Afghanistan
  • An estimated 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan and are awaiting evacuation by US forces, according to the State Department yesterday. The statement clarifies the government’s estimates on how many US citizens and their families need to depart the country — a number that has been unclear since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan roughly 10 days ago.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said there were roughly 6,000 Americans remaining as of Aug. 14, of which 4,500 had been evacuated. About one-third of those remaining had been contacted with departure instructions, while officials were attempting to contact at least 1,000 others — some of whom may have left the country already.
  • Reports yesterday (paywall, WSJ) also suggest American forces and intelligence agencies are conducting missions outside of the Kabul airport in an attempt to rescue stranded Americans. The Biden administration has said it will stick to its Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw from the country.
  • Havana Syndrome
  • US officials are probing possible instances of Havana syndrome experienced by officials and staff accompanying Vice President Kamala Harris on her trip to Southeast Asia. It was unclear whether the vice president herself had been affected, though her trip was delayed pending the investigation.
  • The condition refers to a set of mysterious symptoms that have afflicted US diplomatic staff since at least 2016, which include dizziness, headaches, and in some cases, lingering neurological issues. The condition was first reported in Cuba, but has since been observed in staff stationed in China and Germany. While some have argued the effects are an instance of mass hysteria, a December study suggested pulsed microwave energy — which can somewhat penetrate walls and has been shown to induce neurological symptoms, particularly affecting the inner ear — may have been the culprit.
  • See an overview of the December report here. Who is behind the attacks remains a mystery.
  • Military Mandate Kicks In
  • The Pentagon said yesterday it will require all active troops to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. The move comes two days after a vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech was granted full approval — a step up from its previous emergency use authorization — by US health regulators. The order is expected to affect a few hundred thousand troops, depending on their branch of service; see our previous write-up on the directive here.
  • The announcement comes as the average of COVID-19 cases in the US surpasses 150,000 per day, with daily deaths near 1,100 (see data). There have been inconsistencies between various sources on the number of Americans currently hospitalized, though at least one primary source shows the number beginning to level off around 90,000.
  • In related news, incoming New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) added roughly 12,000 COVID-19 deaths to the state’s tally, implying the Cuomo administration had undercounted the total.
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  • > Adult film star Ron Jeremy indicted on 34 counts of sexual assault against 21 victims dating back to 1996 (More)
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  • > ESPN drops reporter Rachel Nichols from all NBA coverage following controversial remarks about former colleague Maria Taylor (More) | Serena Williams becomes latest big name to withdraw from US Open due to injury (More)
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  • > Google sister company Waymo launches autonomous taxi service in San Francisco; program is open to vetted passengers who must sign a non-disclosure agreement (More)
  • Business & Markets
  • > US stock markets continue streak of gains (S&P 500 +0.2%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq +0.2%) ahead of today’s Jackson Hole symposium where central bankers are scheduled to provide updates on monetary policy (More) | CEOs of tech giants including Apple, Amazon, and Google, among others, meet with President Joe Biden to discuss cybersecurity initiatives (More)
  • > Delta Air Lines says unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s healthcare plan will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge (More)
  • > OnlyFans reverses decision to ban sexually explicit content on its platform, walking back last week’s announcement; the primarily adult content creator site suggested it had trouble securing financing (More)
  • Politics & World Affairs
  • > California’s Caldor Fire moves toward Lake Tahoe; blaze has consumed more than 126,000 acres at 12% containment (More) | State’s Dixie Fire at 45% containment after burning through 740,000 acres (More)
  • > Estimates say 89% of rental assistance provided via COVID-19 stimulus packages has not been distributed; analysis reveals just $5.2B of $46.5B in funds has been spent (More)
  • > House panel probing the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol to seek White House documents from the Trump administration, gives record keepers two weeks to provide files (More)
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  • Quanta | Natalie Wolchover. Physicist Netta Engelhardt thinks she may have solved one of the discipline’s greatest mysteries — what happens to information that falls into a black hole. (Read)
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  • Field & Stream | Allie Conti. Inside the world of the thrill-seeking snake hunters who’ve taken it upon themselves to solve Florida’s invasive python problem. (Read)
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robert massimi

Drama critic for Nimbus Magazine, Metropolitan Magazine and New York Lifestyles Magazine. Producer, editor and writer.