Rushing down the runway, clambering over the wings and clinging to the fuselage even as a plane took off, there were extraordinary scenes at Kabul airport yesterday as desperate Afghans tried to flee the country occupied by the Taliban. The US administration is set to introduce vaccine boosters for most Americans amid rising delta variant cases. And Bob Dylan is at the center of a #MeToo case, but denies sexually abusing a young girl in 1965.
Kate Bartlett, Editor-in-Chief
1 – Kabul disaster
Shocking scenes at airport as Afghans try to flee
Searing footage was released from Kabul International Airport yesterday where thousands of desperate Afghans flocked to try to secure flights out of the Taliban-occupied country. Footage showed people clinging to the fuselage of departing US planes, which continued to take off with people then falling from the sky. At least six people were killed in the chaos, revealing the terror many feel after the militant group took over. US President Joe Biden has defended his withdrawal, saying only that the fall of the Taliban happened faster than expected. Evacuation flights resumed today as Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi was in talks to form a government.(Source: NYT, Washington Post, The Guardian)
For more on the situation in Afghanistan, read former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin’s analysis.
2 – Boosters for all
Americans will need a third vaccine
After initially recommending vaccine boosters for at-risk populations, the Biden administration decided that all Americans should get a third shot. With the delta variant causing an increase in cases across the country, people may need additional protection around eight months after receiving their second injection. People who have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely also need a booster. Some scientists say this is necessary because the effects of the vaccine may begin to wear off over time. The new policy, which will likely be announced this week, will depend on Food and Drug Administration approval. Third shots could be proposed by mid-September. (Source:Washington Post, NYT)
Tropical depression could cause landslides and floods in Haiti
The death toll from a massive earthquake in Haiti has risen to more than 1,400. Rescuers raced against time as Tropical Storm Grace was expected to bring heavy rains that could cause mudslides or flooding. Saturday’s 7.2 earthquake was worse in magnitude than the 2010 earthquake that killed some 200,000 to 300,000 Haitians. However, the epicenter was further from the capital, Port-au-Prince, so fewer lives were lost this time. Grace is set to dump 15 inches of rain in the worst affected areas today, with roads already damaged and some 30,000 families left homeless by the quake. (Source: BBC, The Guardian)
4 – On autopilot
Tesla under investigation after accidents
US auto safety regulators are investigating Elon Musk’s electric car maker Tesla after a series of crashes involving the driver assistance system. The 11 accidents included one fatal accident. But Musk defended the system, stressing that he still needs someone behind the wheel. Shares of the company fell sharply after the news, as such investigations can sometimes lead to recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is leading the investigation, reminded drivers that “no commercially available motor vehicle today is capable of driving itself”. Analysts believe the outcome of the investigation will likely be a software update. (Source: WSJ (Subtitle), AFP)
5 – Also important…
Khieu Samphan, 90, the last surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge, appeared in a court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia yesterday to appeal his conviction for genocide. Two “Chibok girls”, abducted by Nigerians Boko Haram seven years ago, were released. And Naomi Osaka broke down in tears yesterday at his first press conference since opening up about mental health issues.
Coronavirus update: New Zealand launched a new lockdown after a single suspected case of COVID-19, the country’s first in six months. And Australia is under fire for taking 500,000 doses of Pfizer from COVAX supplies destined for the poorest countries.
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The #MeToo movement has sunk Hollywood producers and actors, but so far it hasn’t really hit beloved 1960s rock stars – the era notorious for sex and drugs. Everything changed after an anonymous woman sued icon Bob Dylan, who she claims sexually assaulted her in 1965 when she was 12. Dylan’s rep fired back, saying, “the 56-year-old’s claim is false and will be vigorously defended. The Connecticut woman says the “Blowin’ in the Wind” singer, now 80, gave her drugs and alcohol and abused her for six weeks. She seeks an indeterminate amount in damages. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
2 – Always the moon
Bezos’ Blue Origin sues NASA over SpaceX
He went to the ends of space, now he goes to court. The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, is suing NASA after he awarded rival billionaire Elon Musk a contract earlier this year. Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, filed a lawsuit in federal court yesterday, claiming Musk’s SpaceX was wrongly awarded the contract to supply NASA’s lunar lander. Musk took to Blue Origin on Twitter, saying, “The sad thing is that even if Santa suddenly made his stuff free, the first thing you’d want to do would be cancel it.” Blue Origin’s court case could now delay NASA’s plans to land astronauts on the moon by 2024. (Source: CNBC, The edge)
3 – Run dry
Lower Colorado River will lead to water cuts
The stern warning from climatologists last week that global warming is now irreversible can be seen around the world 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 drought caused by climate change. Water use will be restricted for the southwestern states. Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir by volume, is at its lowest since filling in the 1930s and Lake Powell is at 32% capacity. The first water cuts will take effect in January, affecting Arizona and Nevada. (Source: CNN, Politics)
4 – life is a puzzle
The godfather of sudoku dies in Japan
Can’t get through the morning without coffee and sudoku? You have puzzle creator Maki Kaji to thank for that. The 69-year-old Japanese managing director of puzzle company Nikoli Co. died of cancer yesterday. Although Kaji invented sudoku in 1983, it didn’t become a hit at home or abroad until 2004 when the British newspaper The Times began publishing it. It is believed to be the most popular pencil puzzle in the world, although it is also available in digital format. Sudoku championships have been held in over 100 countries and the word is now in the English dictionary. (Source: PA, AFP)
5 – Afghan athletes face adversity
Paralympian can’t attend Tokyo Games
After the country fell to the Taliban this weekend, Afghan athletes find themselves in dire straits. Members of the country’s women’s soccer team say they fear for their lives, while the country’s first Paralympian will now be unable to attend games in Tokyo. Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadad was due to fly to Japan yesterday, but with chaos at Kabul airport as desperate Afghans tried to leave the country, she was unable to make it. The International Paralympic Committee has confirmed that neither Khudadad nor follow Paralympian Hossain Rasouli will be able to attend the event, which begins on August 24. (Source: AlJazeera, PA)
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