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Trump set to announce he’s withdrawing 4,000 troops from Afghanistan

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  • President Donald Trump is poised to announce he’s pulling roughly 4,000 US troops out of Afghanistan, possibly within the next week, NBC News reported.
  • This would be an initial step in Trump’s broader goal of pulling all US troops out of Afghanistan by the election next year in November 2020.
  • There are currently somewhere between 12,000 to 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
  • Trump in 2016 campaigned on pulling the US out of wars like Afghanistan, but has been unable to make good on that promise since entering the White House. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories. 

President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials. 

This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.

There are currently somewhere between 12,000 to 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan, and withdrawing 4,000 troops would bring total numbers down to somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000. But there’s not a clear timeline on when such a withdrawal might begin, nor specific details on how it would be conducted.

The White House and Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.  

Afghanistan

US military advisers from the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade sit at an Afghan National Army base in Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan, on August 6, 2018.
James Mackenzie/Reuters


Trump in 2016 campaigned on pulling the US out of wars like Afghanistan, but has been unable to make good on that promise since entering the White House. 

The president reportedly wants to withdraw all US troops by November 2020, and pulling 4,000 out in the near future would be a significant step in that direction. At the same time, the president could face criticism and pushback for withdrawing troops without a solid peace deal in place with the Taliban. The presence of US troops in Afghanistan is considered important leverage in these discussions.  

A landmark report from The Washington Post released earlier this month based on a trove of confidential government documents, revealed that the US officials have been lying to the public for years about the war in Afghanistan.

The report — dubbed “the Afghanistan Papers” — laid out how officials across the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations have misled the US public about the state of the longest war in US history, claiming progress was being made when it wasn’t.

In short, top US officials consistently lied to Americans to hide the unwinnable nature of the conflict.

The US is estimated to have spent roughly $1 trillion on the war in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001 following the 9/11 terror attacks. Over the course of the 18 years of conflict, 2,351 American troops have died as well as 3,814 US contractors, according to the Post. Over 775,000 US troops have been deployed to Afghanistan since the initial invasion, in some cases more than once.  



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Victoria’s Secret billionaire may step down from company: WSJ, NYT

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  • Les Wexner, the billionaire businessman behind L Brands, is reportedly “in discussions” to step down as CEO of the company and sell the Victoria’s Secret brand, according to the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
  • Sources familiar with the matter also told The Journal that the company is looking to reach a potential deal in the coming weeks.
  • Wexner founded what is now L Brands in 1963 and is the longest-standing CEO of any Fortune 500 company. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Retail billionaire Les Wexner is reportedly “in discussions” to step down as CEO from L Brands, the company behind Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported.

Sources familiar with the matter told The Journal that Wexner is also considering selling part of, or all of, Victoria’s Secret. 

“The company is looking to reach a decision on the potential deal and succession plans in coming weeks,” Journal reporters Khadeeja Safdar and Corrie Driebusch wrote early Thursday morning, quoting their sources. 

A spokesperson for L Brands declined to comment on this when contacted by Business Insider.  

Wexner founded what is now L Brands in 1963 and is the longest-standing CEO of any Fortune 500 company.

Wexner’s talks of departure comes in light of scrutiny over his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in federal prison in August while facing charges of sexual trafficking of minors.

In the summer of 2019, the company was caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Epstein previously managed the money of L Brands CEO and founder Les Wexner and two were reportedly once close friends.

L Brands’ board of directors hired an outside law firm to review its relationship with Epstein. In September, Wexner addressed his ties to Epstein at L Brands’ investor meeting.

“At some point in your life we are all betrayed by friends,” Wexner said. “Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed I was even close to. But that is in the past.”

The news of the possible sale of Victoria’s Secret also comes after several years of declining sales and pressure from analysts and shareholders to address concerns over the business.

While Victoria’s Secret is still the largest lingerie retailer in the US, its market share in the US has dropped in recent years and the brand has been accused of losing relevance among shoppers as its oversexualized ads and racy runway shows fail to resonate in the era of #MeToo. 

This came to a head in November, after a Vogue interview with Ed Razek – chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands and one of its longest-standing executives after only Wexner himself – went viral online. Razek told the interviewer that he didn’t think the company’s annual fashion show should feature “transsexuals” because the show is a “fantasy.”

“It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is,” he said in the interview.

His comments sparked an outcry online, which later led to him issuing a formal apology. Razek later stepped down from the company in August.

Lauren Frias contributed to this report.



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Two women drowned after their car rolled off the Fisher Island ferry

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A blue Mercedes-Benz inexplicably rolled off the Fisher Island Ferry on Tuesday at around 5 p.m., killing the two women sitting in the car, according to The Miami Herald.

The two women were identified as socialites Emma Afra, 63, and Viviane Brahms, 75, according to Miami-Dade Police.

The two were taking the private ferry from the exclusive Fisher Island, where Afra was a resident. Brahms was a New York resident.

Fisher Island is a private, man-made island off the coast of Miami known for being the richest ZIP code in the US, where the average income of residents is $2.2 million and the median home value is roughly $2.9 million. About 700 families live on the exclusive island across 30 luxury condominium buildings. The only way to access the island is by private boat or ferry.

The ferry transports people and cars from an outpost near the Coast Guard station in Miami Beach; it crosses over a channel called Government Cut that is 50 feet deep. A typical ferry ride only lasts seven minutes, according to the Fisher Island website. The ferry from which the Mercedes fell is named The Pelican, a 113-foot passenger vessel built in 1981 that had its last inspection on May 2, 2019, according to The Miami Herald.

It is currently unknown how the car fell into the water; the Coast Guard and the Miami-Dade Police Department are investigating the situation. An eyewitness described the ferry to The Miami Herald as open in both the front and the back, lined only with a chain to keep cars and passengers on the boat. 

The Fisher Island Community Association is cooperating with investigations, according to a statement made by president and CEO Roberto Sosa. “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the tragic loss of life of Emma Afra and Vivian Brahms who perished on Tuesday, February 18, when the car they were riding on the ferry ended up in the water for reasons still to be determined,” the statement said. “The entire Fisher Island community mourns their loss and our hearts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones at this very difficult time.”



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Blue Apple Beach House Cartagena – Hotel Review

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Blue Apple Beach House

Private plunge pool? Yes please.

Blue Apple Beach House


  • I visited Cartagena and stayed two nights on an island off the coast at Blue Apple Beach House. Most people come for the day, but staying the night offers an authentic taste of Cartagena’s vibrant culture.
  • Blue Apple is an eco-friendly, well-appointed boutique hotel with just 10 rooms, infinity pools, an on-site restaurant built using repurposed materials. They bolster the economy by hiring and supporting local talent and artists. 
  • I splurged for a stand-alone Deluxe King Cabana for $225 a night. There are five of them, and five smaller, standard rooms in the main house, which start at $125 per night.
  • Read all Business Insider hotel reviews here.

I often daydream about what it would be like to purge my belongings and trade the big city for a sun-soaked simpler life on a deserted island, sipping coconuts under a thatched hut as a warm breeze laps my face.

But truthfully, I’m just not that rough and tumble.

In travel, I still aim for a certain sense of luxury, and the closest I’ve come to marrying those ideals was spending two nights at Blue Apple Beach House. Located on the island of Tierra Bomba, it’s a 30-minute speedboat ride from Cartagena’s ancient walled city.

Of course, the walled city of Cartagena shouldn’t be missed and is home to unparalleled food and culture. And while I savored the fiercely fresh ceviche and streets teeming with art and history, I was turned off by squares overrun by tourists, and vendors aggressively hawking tours, t-shirts, and sunglasses. Going out to dinner, I felt surrounded by more North Americans than South.

Retreating to Blue Apple was a welcome respite. ​

A laid-back retreat, it’s where easy-going locals and in-the-know visitors mingle by cerulean-hued infinity pools. A DJ spins tunes, and the kitchen churns out innovative food and drinks.

With white-sand beaches and swaying palms, Blue Apple makes for a popular day trip, and most shuttle back and forth on speedboats to visit just for the day. But devoting nights to staying offshore is when this hotel really comes alive. 

I spent two nights in a Deluxe King Cabana villa with a private pool for $225 per night, though prices for such rooms can start as low as $185 per night, and smaller rooms in the main house start at $125 per night. I wouldn’t hesitate to return to a villa for the sustainable luxury on offer at an affordable price point, as well as the remote and idyllic location, and the warm, friendly staff who made my stay so special.

Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by Blue Apple Beach House.



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