We’re talking about the Taliban’s new acting leadership, the lack of vaccination coverage in Eastern Europe and China’s commitment to narrow the pay gap.
Taliban announce government posts
The Taliban chose people to fill various cabinet positions on an ad hoc basis, stopping by formally announcing a permanent government in Afghanistan.
Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a founding member of the Taliban and former deputy prime minister, was appointed acting leader of the Council of Ministers – a surprise to those who believed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who led the negotiations with the US, was the top spot . Baradar was instead appointed acting deputy.
Taliban leaders will face immediate challenges, especially if US officials continue to withhold help. Basic services such as electricity are already under threat and the UN warned that food aid for hundreds of thousands of Afghans would run out by the end of the month.
The announcement came just hours after the Taliban used violence to break up a demonstration by hundreds of women and men in Kabul. The protesters called on the Taliban to respect the rights that women have acquired over the past 20 years. It was a remarkable public display by women, who suffered brutal submission the last time the Taliban was in charge.
Vaccinations highlight the east-west divide in the EU
Many countries in Western Europe have overcome the slow start to become vaccine leaders, and more than 70 percent of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated. But some Eastern European countries are struggling to keep up.
Bulgaria and Romania have fully vaccinated less than a third of their adult populations, compared to 80 percent in Denmark and Portugal. Those eastern countries, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, also have some of the highest excess mortality rates in the entire European Union.
Scarcity of doses is no longer an issue. Instead, misinformation, mistrust of authorities and ignorance about the benefits of inoculation appear to be the cause of low adoption in Central and Eastern Europe.
The WHO warned last month that 230,000 people in Europe could die from the coronavirus in December, partly due to delayed vaccinations and a lack of proactive government measures.
Go deeper: The bloc has promised to supply its neighbors with vaccine doses. Only 23 percent of the Albanian population is fully vaccinated; that number drops to 11 percent in Georgia and 3 percent in Armenia.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Xi urges ‘common prosperity’
China’s President Xi Jinping announced the Communist Party’s intention to pursue a “common prosperity” strategy in which wealthy companies and entrepreneurs will be forced to narrow the country’s wealth gap and expand the middle class.
Xi and his allies believe China is now rich enough to move closer to his party’s long-standing ideal of wealth-sharing. Party officials have vowed to make education, housing and health care cheaper and more evenly available outside major cities, and to raise wages for workers.
Some of China’s largest companies, which have also felt the sting of the government’s crackdown on antitrust laws, have made commitments. Alibaba, the e-commerce company co-founded by Jack Ma, will invest $15.5 billion in common prosperity projects, as will the country’s largest internet company, Tencent.
Facts: The country’s top 1 percent own nearly 31 percent of the country’s wealth, up from 21 percent in 2000.
context: Xi is currently facing little opposition as he lays the groundwork for a likely third term starting next year, but that could change as economic grievances continue to pile up.
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Decades of population loss and disinvestment by state governments have left many rural American communities without the resources to raise their children. Here is the story of Harvey Ellington, a teenager from rural Mississippi who grew up in a failing public school system.
Two decades of eccentric TV
No one expected Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s adult nighttime show, to be a success. But over the past 20 years it has become a home for outlandish humor, with shows like “Rick and Morty” and “Tuca & Bertie” enjoying cult followings.
Cartoon Network executives knew that a third of their audiences were adults, but the network didn’t have a lot of budget to make original content geared toward them. The result was a simple, lo-fi animation that attracted ready-made ideas, including a show starring a talking wad of meat (“Aqua Teen Hunger Force”) and a cheap talk show hosted by a Hanna-Barbera- superhero (“Space Ghost Coast to Coast”).
The production wasn’t glamorous: the editor of Adult Swim’s first original series worked from a closet. A famous guest on that series, unaware of the strangeness he had signed on to, walked out halfway through the filming. But the audience grew and the shows continued to be weird.
“There were times when we laughed so hard that we literally cried because we loved our job so much,” said Eric Wareheim, a show creator. “We did things we’d never seen in comedy or on TV before.” Read Sarah Bahr’s article to get a behind-the-scenes look at Adult Swim.
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