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Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Aug 21, 2021
Helicopters have brought Americans into the besieged Kabul Airport while desperate Afghans throng its gates. Inside the facility, an Afghan infant hoisted over the wall by a U.S. Marine has been reunited with its dad. And New England is bracing for its first direct hurricane hit in 30 years.
As thousands of desperate people thronged the gates of the Kabul airport in the hope of being airlifted out of the city captured by the Taliban six days ago. U.S. President Joe Biden’s Friday declaration to stranded Americans, “we will get you home,” was cold comfort to Afghans who’d worked for the U.S.-led coalition that controlled the country for 20 years. Americans at a hotel complex near the airport were shuttled by U.S. helicopters a few hundred feet into the zone controlled by GIs, past Afghans waiting outside an airport gate. Germany says it will use its newly arrived helicopters to perform more extractions as long as the chaotic truce holds. (Sources: NYT, CNN)
OZY’s Butterfly Effect column explores ways Kabul’s fall differs from Saigon’s fall in 1975.
New England’s luck has run out. Avoiding direct hurricane landfall for three decades, America’s northeastern states are due to bear the brunt of Tropical Storm Henri, which is forecast to grow into a hurricane as it churns northward with sustained 70 mph winds. That’s prompted a hurricane watch stretching from Long Island to Cape Cod as meteorologists expect landfill Sunday night. Meanwhile Hurricane Grace moved on after complicating Haiti’s earthquake recovery efforts and lashing Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula Thursday. With 120 mph winds, the Category 3 storm churned into Veracruz state on central Mexico’s Gulf coast overnight, threatening heavy rains and flash flooding for the oil-producing region. (Sources: NPR, CBS Boston, CNBC)
3 - FDA OK
Pfizer Shot Poised for Full US Approval
It may seem anticlimactic, but it matters: The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly ready to grant approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. It’s had emergency approval since last fall but would become the first fully permitted shot in the U.S. It’s hoped that the OK will ease some Americans’ vaccine hesitancy. Meanwhile, the agency advised vulnerable Americans to avoid cruise ships, even if they’re vaccinated. And the makers of monoclonal antibodies report that even though they’re an effective COVID-19 treatment, very few patients are receiving them, prompting a government effort to promote them. (Sources: Washington Post, USA Today)
4 - Red Line
Regulations Again Undercut China Tech Stocks
“The weeds of socialism are better than the crops of capitalism.” Chairman Mao Zedong’s wisdom is being tested this week as those crops are withering on the vine. Online retailer Alibaba Group's stock dropped 14 percent this week — to below its 2019 public debut price — while other tech firms have mirrored the tailspin. What’s going on? Beijing regulators are cracking down on the digital sector, most recently imposing some of the world’s strictest privacy standards. Will this affect other markets? A JPMorgan Chase market strategist says no, calling it “business as usual” for investments in the Middle Kingdom. Such sudden drops are to be expected, but are often followed by big increases. (Sources: (WSJ [sub], Bloomberg)
Is Beijing shooting itself in the foot? Click below to share your view.
A Taliban official has told Reuters they’re investigating reports of fighters rounding up Afghans with ties to foreign military or the deposed government, saying militants would be held accountable for abuses. The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily backed the Biden administration’s reversal of the previous administration’s policy of forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico. And anticipating an influx of Afghan migrants, Greece has installed a fence and surveillance system along 25 miles of its border with Turkey.
In the Week Ahead: On Tuesday, disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will hand over his office to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, the state’s first female chief executive. The Paralympic Games begin in Tokyo that same day. And Naftali Bennett makes his first White House visit as Israeli prime minister on Thursday.
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It’s hard to watch. But the world couldn’t turn its eyes away from viral footage of an infant offered to U.S. Marines manning a concrete wall standing between thousands of fearful Afghans and freedom from the Taliban. As throngs waved documents at soldiers, one credential stood out: An infant thrust upward. A Marine one-handed the child of a few months, lifting it over the razor wire and handing it inside. Yesterday the Marine Corps announced that the baby had been treated by medics and “reunited with their father and is safe at the airport.” Other clips show Afghan children playing with troops inside, and it’s probable that the baby won’t be the last summarily pulled to safety. (Sources: NYT, CNN)
2 - Cleaning Up
OnlyFans Providers Warn Sex Ban Could Harm Them
They say it was an honest day’s work for an honest day’s play. But OnlyFans, known for hosting independent porn producers selling images and videos directly to users, says it won’t allow explicit acts as of October. “They are taking away our safe spaces,” said one content provider, with an adult industry advocate warning it will drive them toward “riskier street-based sex work.” The platform says credit card companies are increasingly wary of incurring legal liability from involvement in content resulting from sex trafficking and underage performers. Investors too are hesitant to back such ventures, which is keeping them from bankrolling OnlyFans, which says it will still allow nudity, within limits. (Sources: Engadget, The Guardian)
3 - Vax On
Another COVID Barrier: The First DNA Shot
Will these genes fit? ZyCoV-D, the first DNA-based inoculation against COVID-19, has won emergency approval from India’s pharmaceutical regulator. The country’s Biotechnology Department on Friday announced that the shot made by Zydus Cadila could immunize anyone age 12 and above. Trials have shown it to be 66% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, and critically did so as India was being ravaged by the delta variant, suggesting that it provides much-needed protection against it. That will be especially welcome in a country that, at only 12% immunization, is struggling to protect the world’s second-largest population.
He didn’t even respond in the form of a question. Jeopardy! producer Mike Richards had already irked fans by running a selection process to replace beloved longtime host Alex Trebek, who died last year of cancer, only to host the show himself. This week The Ringer dug up a 2014 podcast that included him using pig Latin to make an anti-Semitic comment about noses. On Friday Richards apologized and relinquished his hosting job. He’s remaining as producer, but with the Anti-Defamation League investigating his comments disparaging women, Asians and Haitians, contestants may be asking, “What is fired?” when prompted with his name.
He’s punching above his weight. Manny Pacquiao will have to win tonight’s bout against Yordenis Ugas for a welterweight title. An upset victory could help him against his biggest opponent yet: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. “PacMan,” 42, who’s won 62 fights and eight divisions, hasn’t thrown his hat in that other ring, but even the president once suggested him as a successor. Duterte is a former ally who’s term-limited but may run for vice president, in part to gain immunity from human rights prosecution for his blood-soaked war on drugs. Now Pacquaio, a national senator, vows he’ll fight corruption — something observers say he’ll only accomplish after he bashes his way past the outgoing leader.
Football is almost back, so get up to speed with one of its finest reporters! Brimming with energy and good sports stories, Erin Andrews joins The Carlos Watson Show. The Fox Sports reporter shares the secret behind Brady’s success, explains Michael Strahan’s integral role in her love story, and gets real about her struggles with pregnancy and family planning. Don’t miss it!
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