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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 25, 2021
The U.S. says it’s sticking to its Aug. 31 pullout date, as the Taliban tell women to wait to return to work because militants aren’t used to them. The bizarre Havana syndrome is believed to be the reason Vice President Kamala Harris’ flight to Hanoi was delayed. And he certainly gathered no moss: Rolling Stones legend Charlie Watts remembered.
US Sticks to Pullout Date, Taliban Tell Women to Stay Home
President Joe Biden confirmed the U.S. is sticking to its withdrawal date for Afghanistan despite requests from Britain and France that troops remain to secure Kabul’s airport. Washington has already started reducing personnel at the airport ahead of the Aug. 31 date, though thousands of Afghans remain desperate to leave. More than 70,000 people have been evacuated since the Taliban retook power, but the group is trying to stop more people fleeing. Meanwhile, the militants said women should wait to return to work because the fighters haven’t been “trained on how to deal with women, how to speak to women.” (Sources: NYT, Al Jazeera, Washington Post)
2 - Hanoi Syndrome?
US VP’s Trip Delayed After Possible ‘Health Incident’
A report of a mysterious health incident yesterday, believed to have been Havana syndrome, delayed Vice President Kamala Harris’ arrival in Vietnam. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi gave the warning while Harris was in Singapore, so the VP delayed her departure by several hours. The White House is keeping mum on what happened, only saying that Harris is well. U.S. intelligence has been unable to discover the source of the syndrome, which causes headaches, vertigo and nausea and has affected American diplomats in Cuba and elsewhere. Harris is expected to use her visit to Vietnam to focus on regional security issues. (Sources: CNN, BBC)
3 - Restart Remain in Mexico
Supreme Court Rules Against Biden on Asylum-Seeker Policy
The U.S. Supreme Court has backed a district court’s ruling that the White House must reinstate former President Donald Trump’s controversial “remain in Mexico” policy that forces migrants from a third country who have attempted to enter the U.S. via Mexico to stay there while they await approval. After Trump ushered in the policy in 2019 there were reports of unsanitary conditions and abuses in the Mexican encampments. President Biden suspended the policy, but Texas and Missouri sued. The Department of Homeland Security says it will continue appealing the district court’s ruling. (Sources: NYT, Washington Post)
4 - Democrats United
House Democrats Advance $3.5 T Budget Blueprint
The U.S. House has approved a $3.5 trillion budget framework 220-212, as centrist Democrats who had been holding out joined with their party leaders after concessions were made. The Senate passed the blueprint earlier this month, and detailed written legislation is now being drafted. Yesterday’s vote means the Democrats can pass provisions on health care, climate and education in the Senate without Republican backing, as long as they remain united. Party leaders have set a Sept. 27 deadline for a vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. (Sources: CNBC, WSJ (sub))
5 - Also Important …
Students from Afghanistan’s only girls’ boarding school are being evacuated to Rwanda to continue their education in the East African nation. A Japanese court has sentenced a yakuza crime boss to death after he was found guilty of ordering a murder and several attacks. And unemployment in South Africa is the highest in the world at 34.4%.
Coronavirus Update: A classified U.S. intelligence study was inconclusive on whether the coronavirus came from animals or a lab in Wuhan. The governor of Hawaii has asked tourists to stay away as COVID-19 cases rise and hospital beds fill up.
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His bandmates of almost six decades had no words. After Charlie Watts died aged 80 yesterday, Mick Jagger simply tweeted a photo of him, while Keith Richards posted one of a drum set that said “closed.” Jazz-loving Watts joined the Stones in 1963 and became known as the gentleman of the band, without Jagger’s ego or Richards’ hedonism. But Watts had his rock ‘n’ roll moments: In 1984, angered by a drunk and cocky Jagger, Watts punched him in the face, sending the singer tumbling into a silver platter of smoked salmon. The Stones are due to start touring in September. (Sources: BBC, NY Post, Rolling Stone, USA Today)
What do you think? What’s your favorite Stones song of all time and why? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2 - Not Milking It
British McDonald’s Are All Out of Shakes
Their milkshakes aren’t bringing any boys to the yard. The fast-food chain’s U.K. branches have stopped selling the treats due to supply chain problems and staff shortages. Pandemic-related woes plus the U.K.’s exit from the European Union have caused trouble for businesses recently, with Nando’s closing 45 restaurants last week over a shortage of peri peri chicken. Britain’s COVID-19 rules require people to isolate if they come into contact with an infected person, and numbers of foreign truck drivers have plunged, exacerbating restaurants’ staffing and delivery problems. McDonald’s said it’s working on returning milkshakes to menus. (Sources: CNN, Sky News)
3 - Rate the Crate
TikTok Craze Could Lead to Hospital, Doctors Caution
Enough about milkshakes; let’s talk about milk crates. Remember the ice bucket challenge a few years back? There’s a new viral TikTok challenge and doctors are warning it can really hurt. The name, the milk crate challenge, kind of gives it away: You climb up and over a pyramid of crates before they all come tumbling down. But the meme is dangerous, medical professionals say, and hospitals don’t need more strain while they’re already dealing with rising delta cases. It’s unclear exactly where the gimmick started or how long, despite doctors’ orders, it might last. (Sources: Washington Post, USA Today)
4 - Xi Thought Not ‘Thoughtcrime’
Chinese President’s Political Philosophy to Be Taught in School
Move over Confucius, there’s a new philosophy in China: Xi Thought. President Xi Jinping is taking a leaf out of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and adding his own political ideology to school curriculum across the country. Already enshrined in China’s Constitution, “Xi Jinping Thought” will help “teenagers establish Marxist beliefs,” officials said. Among the philosophy’s tenets are cultivating a love for the country and socialism and the importance of the “reunification of the motherland.” The Ministry of Education says the curriculum will be rolled out from primary school level to university. (Sources: BBC, Reuters (sub), Quartz)
5 - Best of Humanity
Tokyo Paralympics Get Off to Inspiring Start
Former President Barack Obama is excited about the Paralympics, which started in Tokyo yesterday, tweeting that he’ll be “cheering them on” and hopes you will too. The first day of the Games saw a vibrant opening ceremony despite pandemic regulations, with Andrew Parsons, the International Paralympic Committee president, calling the competitors “the best of humanity.” More than 4,000 athletes are expected to compete in the Games, which run through Sept. 5. Today track cycling, swimming and equestrian events are taking place, as well as goalball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball. (Sources: The Guardian, CNN, Twitter)
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