In Kabul, US reports ‘agreements in principle’ with Taliban
By RAHIM FAIEZ
Tuesday, January 29
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Negotiators for the United States and the Taliban insurgents have reached “agreements in principle” on key issues for a peace deal that would end 17 years of war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. envoy said Monday.
The statement by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad followed six days of talks last week with the Taliban in Qatar, where he urged the insurgents to enter into direct negotiations with the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani on Monday assured Afghans that their rights will not be compromised in the name of peace with the Taliban, who have been staging near-daily attacks against Afghan forces, causing scores of casualties every week. Their offensive has not let up despite the severe Afghan winter and the insurgents now hold sway over nearly half of the country.
Khalilzad said in an interview with The New York Times that an agreement in principle was reached with the Taliban on the framework of a peace deal “which still has to be fleshed out” that will see the insurgents commit to guaranteeing that Afghan territory is not used as a “platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.”
He said the deal could lead to a full pullout of U.S. troops in return for a cease-fire and Taliban talks with the Afghan government.
In his statement released by the U.S. Embassy, Khalilzad said, “We made progress on vital issues in our discussions and agreed to agreements in principle on a couple of very important issues.”
“There is a lot more work to be done before we can say we have succeeded in our efforts but I believe for the first time I can say that we have made significant progress,” he said.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he has been briefed on the talks and described them as encouraging, but he also told reporters that the department has not been directed to prepare for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Speaking before a meeting at the Pentagon with Shanahan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said any discussion about the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan would be premature. He said Khalilzad had briefed NATO allies on the talks weeks ago.
“We are in Afghanistan to create the conditions for a peaceful negotiated solution,” Stoltenberg said. “We will not stay longer than necessary, but we will not leave before we have a situation that enables us to leave or reduce the number of troops without jeopardizing the main goal of our presence and that is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists once again.”
He added that he believes it’s too soon to speculate on withdrawal because “what we have to do now is to support the efforts to try to find a peaceful solution. We strongly support those efforts.”
Ghani sought to assure Afghans that no deals would be made without Kabul’s awareness and full participation.
“Our commitment is to provide peace and to prevent any possible disaster,” Ghani said in an address to the nation. “There are values that are not disputable, such as national unity, national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Ghani’s office said he and Khalilzad met late Sunday in Kabul to discuss details from the talks.
Khalilzad’s statement emphasized the inclusion of the Afghan government in the talks.
“There is a false narrative that Afghans are not included. That is not true. The Afghan voice is there,” he said. “We are working together to get to a comprehensive cease-fire. We are working with the Afghan government, with international partners, to find implementing mechanisms to reach these goals.”
Khalilzad has met with the Taliban on a number of occasions in recent months in the latest bid to end America’s longest war. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to topple the Taliban, who were harboring Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
The statement from Ghani’s office also claimed that the Taliban demanded from Khalilzad the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, but that there was also no agreement on that issue.
The statement added that Khalilzad has no authority to discuss issues such as a future Afghan administration but that his goal is to facilitate an intra-Afghan dialogue, meaning direct talks between the Taliban and Kabul.
Khalilzad had tweeted Saturday about progress in the talks in Qatar, where the insurgents have a political office, saying: “Meetings here were more productive than they have been in the past.”
“We made significant progress on vital issues,” he tweeted, without offering details.
Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a former Taliban official and currently a member of the High Peace Council, an independent body of clerics and respected Afghan figures, said he believes the Qatar talks resulted in a “good understanding between both sides” but that more discussions are needed in the coming weeks or months.
“Afghanistan’s problem is not so simple that it can be solved in a day, week or month, it needs more time and more discussions,” Mujahid told The Associated Press.
The Taliban have in the past refused to negotiate directly with Kabul — a standing that does not appear to have changed. They have maintained that they are prepared to talk with U.S. officials only and only about the pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Afghan political analyst Waheed Muzhda says he believes that Khalilzad and the Taliban have reached agreement on both the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and a cease-fire deal, but that neither side is prepared to say so at this point.
“But peace talks are not possible unless both sides first agree on a cease-fire,” Muzhda said.
In Monday’s address to the nation, Ghani also stressed that U.S. and other foreign forces are in Afghanistan because they are needed here and that if there is to be any downsizing or pullout, the Kabul government will have to play a role in the talks.
Ghani also reiterated his call on the Taliban to engage “in direct talks with the Afghan government.”
Atlanta braces for plunging temperatures, ice, maybe snow
By JEFF MARTIN
Tuesday, January 29
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlantans awoke to relatively mild weather Tuesday, but forecasters warned that streets could still become icy as fans arrive for the Super Bowl, with temperatures expected to drop more than 20 degrees during the day.
More than 100 of Tuesday’s flights were canceled at Atlanta’s airport and schools were closed across the city “in an abundance of caution” ahead of the storm front, which was churning toward Georgia Tuesday just as thousands of fans begin pouring into town for Super Bowl 53.
It was sweater weather for the morning commute. Office workers made crunching sounds stepping on the salt spread generously over Marietta Street, one of the main thoroughfares downtown. The salt caught the light from outdoor video boards set up for the Super Bowl, and reflected shades of blue, red and green.
Even a threat of icy weather is taken seriously in Atlanta, five years after cars, trucks and school buses became marooned on the southern city’s freeways in what became known as “snow jam.”
The storm system slowed somewhat overnight, but temperatures are still expected to plunge into the 30s by Tuesday afternoon and the 20s by evening, said Sid King, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
“When I came in this morning it was measuring about 50 in Atlanta, but it’s still expected to drop considerably,” King said.
Less than an inch of snow is now expected inside the perimeter highway that defines the metropolis, but emergency officials say they’re more concerned about the potential for ice.
A winter weather advisory remained in effect Tuesday for Atlanta, a city known for grinding to a halt in relatively light snowfalls.
Delta Air Lines “proactively” canceled about 170 flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, its main hub, the Atlanta-based airline announced late Monday.
Weather-related delays will be possible, particularly through Chicago and from Boston, as Super Bowl travel into Atlanta increases on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday said state offices in more than 30 counties in the northern part of the state would be closed Tuesday, including those in the Atlanta area. “Temperatures are going to plummet,” the governor said.
The Atlanta Public Schools system closed its campuses, and other area districts followed suit.
New England Patriots fan Pamela Wales of Quincy, Massachusetts said it’s the potential for ice that concerns her most. During her visit to Atlanta this week, local television footage reminded her that Atlanta and ice don’t mix well.
“They were showing all kinds of pictures on TV from 2014 when everyone got stuck,” Wales said as she toured Super Bowl exhibits at the Georgia World Congress Center Monday afternoon.
The potential for black ice is also “the overriding concern” among emergency officials, said Homer Bryson, director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
“It’s very similar to what we saw in 2014 where the roadways will not have time to dry off before the moisture or precipitation on them refreezes,” Kemp said. “And that’s when you have black ice, and that’s what causes wrecks, which causes gridlock and public safety issues, injuries.”
Road crews began treating north Georgia’s major interstates, state routes and overpasses on Monday with brine, a liquid salt mixture.
The routes that both the Patriots and Los Angeles Rams must use to travel to and from practice venues will also be pre-treated. About 1,900 employees were on call and more than 420 pieces of snow removal equipment were ready, the Georgia Department of Transportation said in a statement.
Sunday’s Super Bowl will be played in downtown Atlanta in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and its roof will be open if weather permits, officials have said. There’s a 40 percent chance of showers Sunday, but highs will be near 58 degrees (14 Celsius). That’s slightly warmer than average for Feb. 3 in Atlanta, climate records show.
Tuesday’s weather posed the more immediate threat, and elected officials were already anticipating criticism as they calibrated their responses.
“It is often easy to pass judgment on how we in Georgia deal with snow and ice, but for those from the north what you do know is that an ice event is very different than a snow event,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Monday.
Past Super Bowl weeks have been marred by wintry weather, including the 2011 game in Arlington, Texas. Ice coated roads around metro Dallas during the week before Green Bay defeated Pittsburgh that year. Chunks of ice also tumbled from the roof of Cowboys Stadium, hurting six workers on the ground.
In 2000, the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans arrived in Atlanta shortly after an ice storm brought traffic in the city to a standstill.
Unseasonably cold temperatures followed, and both teams had to practice outdoors since the Georgia Dome was being used for Super Bowl pregame and halftime rehearsals. The Rams wore winter jackets and thermal underwear in the biting cold.
“It’s ridiculous,” Rams coach Dick Vermeil said at the time. “But there’s nothing you can do about it except try to survive.”
Associated Press Writer Ben Nadler contributed.
MVNU Music Department earns full accreditation
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio —The Mount Vernon Nazarene University Music Department is pleased to announce that all programs and degrees within the department have been reaccredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Having received initial accreditation in 2009, the MVNU music program moves from associate member status to full member status.
This reaccreditation was given after a thorough self-evaluation of each program within the Music Department followed by a comprehensive on-site review. The review team compiled a report, which was reviewed by the NASM commission, the decision-making body for accreditation. The MVNU Music Department was then given the opportunity to offer responses to the commission. The reaccreditation process was completed over a period of two and a half years.
“This is great news for our music programs at MVNU,” said department chair Dr. John Packard. “We knew we were providing outstanding music education to our students, but it’s a pleasure — and useful — to be affirmed by an external agency like NASM.”
Founded in 1924, NASM is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities with approximately 643 accredited institutional members. It establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials for music and music-related disciplines. It also provides assistance to institutions and individuals engaged in artistic, scholarly, educational, and other music-related endeavors (https://nasm.arts-accredit.org).
The Music Department thanks all who support and encourage MVNU students who pursue study within the musical arts.
Registration open for MVNU Community Music School
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Community Music School is now open for registration with classes and group lessons beginning Jan. 22.
The Community Music School is pleased to offer a new beginner ukulele class as well as group lessons for brass, woodwinds, percussion and strings. Continuing classes for beginner guitar, piano and voice are also available as well as a specialized Musikgarten “Music Makers” class for elementary age students. Each class provides 10 weekly 50-minute sessions in the spring term.
More information, as well as registration, is available at www.mvnu.edu/communitymusic. For regular updates, visit www.facebook.com/mvnucommunitymusic.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and several convenient Graduate and Professional Studies locations throughout the state, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education to more than 2,200 students from 31 states and 22 countries/U.S. territories.
CAPA Celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2019
Launches New Branding and Hosts Community Giveback Events to Honor Milestone
Established in 1969, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) turns 50 and will mark the important milestone with a new look and a year-long, community celebration. Through the generous support of the American Electric Power Foundation and Nationwide, with special support provided by Huntington Bank, a series of special events will be held throughout the year to thank the community for its 50 years of enthusiastic support of CAPA and the arts in Columbus. Established in 1969 to save downtown’s historic Ohio Theatre from imminent demolition, CAPA has since grown into a $21 million non-profit performing arts organization that stewards ten central Ohio entertainment venues, provides administrative services to seven local arts and culture organizations, presents more than 60 national touring artists each season, presents Broadway in Columbus (in partnership with Broadway Across America), produces Festival Latino, and creates educational performing arts experiences for thousands of students each year.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate CAPA’s many achievements over the last 50 years and to share our exciting vision for the future,” stated CAPA President and CEO Chad Whittington. “We are thrilled to commemorate this important milestone by thanking the community that has made it all possible through their incredible generosity and support.”
The New Look
To refresh and evolve the brand, CAPA selected Fechtor Advertising to helm the rebranding process. CAPA’s work with Fechtor began with a months-long discovery and research process that included focus groups and in-person interviews with CAPA personnel, board members, and donors, leading to a new logo and updated color palette.
With its hand-drawn brushstroke design, the distinct and expressive letters of the new CAPA logo communicate a modern, creative energy that is passionate, bold, and at its core, uniquely human. Its color palette is built upon a central color of Byzantium purple that conveys richness and depth. The new logo is coupled with the tag line—“Living, breathing art”—speaking to the distinctive intensity and universal connectivity of the performing arts genre.
CAPA today announces the following 50th anniversary special events. Additional events will be announced throughout the year as CAPA celebrates in a variety of ways with the many diverse arts organizations it collaborates with each season.
Mighty Morton Organ Free Concert & Singalong
Sunday, March 17, 3 p.m.
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
Celebrate the 91st birthday of the Ohio Theatre with a free concert and singalong showcasing the Ohio’s original “Mighty Morton” theatre pipe organ. CAPA featured organist Clark Wilson will replicate the audience singalong performed by former resident organist Roger Garrett on February 16, 1969, as part of the “final performance” at the Ohio Theatre. This will be followed by a concert from world-renowned organist Simon Gledhill featuring music from Broadway, Hollywood, and the Great American Songbook. Generous support provided by The Tom E. Dailey Foundation and Leo Klise.
2019 CAPA Summer Movie Series – 50th Anniversary Edition
June 14 – August 11
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
The longest-running classic film series in America, the CAPA Summer Movie Series will offer 50¢ tickets to opening weekend and select showings on its 2019 lineup. The 50th anniversary edition of central Ohio’s beloved annual summer tradition will present its usual mix of classic film favorites, series premieres, and special events—including a silent film with live musical accompaniment on the “Mighty Morton” theatre organ, Saturday morning classic cartoons, and Fright Nite Friday with Fritz the Nite Owl—but will sprinkle in a few fun birthday surprises throughout the summer. More details and the 2019 lineup to be announced soon. Generous support provided by PVS Chemicals.
CAPA Theatres Free Open House Walking Tour
Saturday, July 13, 1-4 p.m.
Ever wondered what it would be like to stand on the stage of the Ohio Theatre? See the Palace from a performer’s perspective? Or to know you’re standing inside the same gilded arches as the thousands of stars that have graced the Southern Theatre stage over the past 123 years? Well, now’s your chance. Learn more about the storied histories behind CAPA’s treasured Ohio, Palace, and Southern Theatres as they open to the public to tour, touch, and even take selfies from their stages.
See www.capa.com for additional events.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, and the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment.
Columbus 2020 Appoints Raja Sundararajan and Aaron Pitts to its Board of Directors
Columbus, Ohio – Columbus 2020, the economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region, announced today the appointment of Raja Sundararajan and Aaron Pitts to its board of directors.
Sundararajan serves as president and chief operating officer of AEP Ohio, where he oversees more than 1,500 employees and is responsible for all aspects of electric service for AEP Ohio’s 1.5 million customers. Sundararajan joined AEP in 2002 and has held several positions within the company, most recently serving as vice president of regulatory services between 2016 and 2018.
As an active member of the community, Sundararajan sits on the boards of both Smart Columbus and the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.
Pitts serves as senior managing director of healthcare at JobsOhio, where he leverages his knowledge of the global healthcare and bioscience industry to drive sector growth in Ohio. Pitts is a passionate advocate of Ohio’s healthcare industry and the incredible advancements happening in the state, which are improving the quality and longevity of lives around the world.
During his time outside of JobsOhio, Pitts enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, practicing yoga and weightlifting.
“We are excited to welcome Raja Sundararajan and Aaron Pitts to Columbus 2020’s board of directors,” said Kenny McDonald, president and chief economic officer of Columbus 2020. “Raja’s demonstrated business leadership in shaping the future of Columbus, as well as Aaron’s dedication to positioning Ohio as a national and global leader, will greatly benefit Columbus 2020 and the communities within our Region.”
About Columbus 2020
As the economic development organization for the Columbus Region, Columbus 2020’s mission is to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth across 11 Central Ohio counties. In 2010, hundreds of business and community leaders developed the Columbus 2020 Regional Growth Strategy, and the Columbus Region is now experiencing the strongest decade of growth in its history. The Columbus 2020 team conducts business outreach, promotes the Columbus Region to market-leading companies around the world, conducts customized research to better understand the Columbus Region’s competitiveness, and works to leverage public, private and institutional partnerships. Funding is received from more than 300 private organizations, local governments, academic institutions and JobsOhio. Learn more at ColumbusRegion.com.
Patrol investigating deadly helicopter crash in Vinton County
January 29, 2019
COLUMBUS – The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a helicopter crash in Vinton County. The helicopter had three people on board at the time of the crash and all were pronounced dead at the scene.
At approximately 7:20 a.m., the Patrol was notified by Survival Flight that communication was lost with one of their helicopters. The helicopter departed Mount Carmel Grove City hospital and was flying to Holzer Meigs hospital in Pomeroy.
Troopers from the Jackson Post, the Patrol’s Special Response Team and Aviation Unit responded to canvas the area using the last known location. At approximately 10:16 a.m., the Patrol located the wreckage of a Bell 407 helicopter east of state Route 278 and south of King Hollow Trail in Brown Township.
There were no reported injuries to anyone in the area.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol was assisted by Vinton, Meigs and Jackson counties sheriffs’ offices; Vinton County Emergency Management Agency; Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and the Vinton County Coroner’s Office.
The crash remains under investigation, the names of the flight crew are being withheld pending next of kin notifications.