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Aug 17, 2021
Rushing the runway, clambering onto the wings and holding onto the fuselage even as one plane took off, there were extraordinary scenes at Kabul’s airport yesterday as desperate Afghans attempted to flee the Taliban-occupied country. The U.S. administration is set to introduce vaccine booster shots for most Americans amid surging delta variant cases. And Bob Dylan is at the center of a #MeToo case, but denies sexually abusing a young girl in 1965.
Searing images were broadcast from Kabul’s international airport yesterday, where thousands of desperate Afghans flocked to try to get flights out of the Taliban-occupied country. Footage showed people clinging to the fuselage of departing U.S. jets, which continued to take off with people then falling from the sky. At least six people were killed in the chaos, which revealed the terror many feel after the militant group’s takeover. U.S. President Joe Biden defended his withdrawal, saying only that the fall to the Taliban happened faster than expected. Today, evacuation flights resumed as Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi was in talks to form a government.(Sources: NYT, Washington Post, The Guardian)
For more on the situation in Afghanistan, read former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin’s analysis.
After initially recommending vaccine boosters for at-risk populations, the Biden administration has decided all Americans should get a third shot. With the delta variant causing cases to surge across the nation, people might need additional protection some eight months after getting their second shot. People who got the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also likely require a booster. Some scientists say this is necessary as the vaccine’s effects may start to wane over time. The new policy, likely to be announced this week, will depend on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. Third shots could be offered by mid-September. (Sources:Washington Post, NYT)
Tropical Depression Could Cause Mudslides, Flooding in Haiti
The death toll from a massive earthquake in Haiti has risen to more than 1,400. Rescue workers raced against time, with Tropical Storm Grace expected to bring heavy rainfall that could cause mudslides or flooding. Saturday’s 7.2 earthquake was worse in magnitude than the one in 2010 that killed some 200,000 to 300,000 Haitians. However, the epicenter was further away from the capital, Port-au-Prince, so fewer lives have been lost this time. Grace is set to dump 15 inches of rain across the worst-affected areas today, with roads already damaged and some 30,000 families left homeless by the quake. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
4 - On Autopilot
Tesla Under Investigation After Crashes
U.S. auto safety regulators are investigating Elon Musk’s electric car manufacturer, Tesla, after a series of crashes involving the driver assistance system. The 11 accidents included one fatal crash. But Musk has defended the system, stressing that it still needs a person behind the wheel. The company’s shares fell sharply after the news as such probes can sometimes lead to recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is leading the investigation, reminded drivers that “no commercially available motor vehicles today are capable of driving themselves.” Analysts think the outcome of the inquiry will likely be a software update. (Sources: WSJ (Sub), AFP)
5 - Also Important …
Khieu Samphan, 90, the last surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge, appeared in court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, yesterday to appeal his genocide conviction. Two “Chibok girls,” abducted by Nigeria’s Boko Haram seven years ago, have been freed. And Naomi Osaka broke down in tears yesterday at her first press conference since opening up about mental health problems.
Coronavirus Update: New Zealand has instigated a new lockdown after a single suspected COVID-19 case, the country’s first in six months. And Australia is under fire for having taken 500,000 Pfizer doses from the COVAX supplies meant for poorer nations.
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The #MeToo movement has sunk Hollywood producers and actors, but so far hasn’t really touched beloved rock stars from the 1960s — the era notorious for sex and drugs. That’s all changed after an unnamed woman sued icon Bob Dylan, who she says sexually abused her in 1965 when she was 12. Dylan’s spokesman hit back saying “the 56-year-old claim is untrue and will be vigorously defended.” The woman in Connecticut says the “Blowin’ in the Wind” singer, now 80, gave her drugs and alcohol and abused her over the course of six weeks. She’s seeking an unspecified amount in damages. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
2 - Still Mooning
Bezos’s Blue Origin Sues NASA Over SpaceX
He went to the edge of space, now he’s going to court. World’s richest man Jeff Bezos is suing NASA after it awarded a contract to rival billionaire Elon Musk earlier this year. Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, filed a complaint in federal court yesterday saying Musk’s SpaceX was wrongly awarded the contract to supply NASA’s lunar lander. Musk hit out at Blue Origin on Twitter saying: “The sad thing is that even if Santa Claus suddenly made their hardware real for free, the first thing you’d want to do is cancel it.” Blue Origin’s court filing could now delay NASA’s plans to land astronauts on the moon by 2024. (Sources: CNBC, The Verge)
3 - Running Dry
Low Colorado River Will Cause Water Cuts
The stark warning from climate scientists last week that global warming is now irreversible can be seen playing out all over the globe this year with unprecedented heat waves and wildfires. Yesterday, for the first time ever, the government declared a water shortage in the Colorado River due to climate change-spurred drought. Water use will be limited for states in the Southwest. Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir by volume, is at its lowest since it was filled in the 1930s and Lake Powell is at 32% capacity. The first water cuts will come into effect in January, with Arizona and Nevada affected. (Sources: CNN, Politico)
4 - Life’s a Puzzle
Godfather of Sudoku Dies in Japan
Can’t get through the morning without coffee and sudoku? You have the puzzle’s creator Maki Kaji to thank for that. The 69-year-old Japanese chief executive of puzzle company Nikoli Co. died of cancer yesterday. Although Kaji invented sudoku way back in 1983, it didn’t become a hit at home or overseas until 2004 when British newspaper The Times started to publish it. It’s believed to be the world’s most popular pencil puzzle, though it’s also now in digital formats. Sudoku championships have been held in more than 100 countries and the word is now in the English dictionary. (Sources: AP, AFP)
5 - Afghan Athletes Face Adversity
Female Paralympian Unable to Attend Tokyo Games
After the country’s collapse to the Taliban over the weekend, Afghanistan’s athletes find themselves in a desperate situation. Members of the country’s women’s soccer team say they fear for their lives, while the country’s first female Paralympian will now be unable to attend the games in Tokyo. Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadad was meant to fly to Japan yesterday, but with chaos at Kabul’s airport as desperate Afghans tried to leave the country, she wasn’t able to make it. The International Paralympics Committee confirmed that neither Khudadad nor track Paralympian Hossain Rasouli would be able to attend the event, which starts August 24. (Sources: Al Jazeera, AP)
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