A choice ‘between leaving or escalating’
A day after the last US military plane left Kabul, he spoke from the White House. President Biden vehemently defended the decision to end the war in Afghanistan.
The operation to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies was an “extraordinary success,” he said, announcing the end of an era where the US is using military force “to remake other countries.”
Biden has blamed Donald Trump for negotiating a bad withdrawal agreement with the Taliban. “That was the choice, the real choice between leaving or escalating,” he said. “I had no intention of prolonging this eternal war.”
With the departure from Afghanistan, the US faces a new dilemma: how to deal with the new Taliban government. Some of the issues include how deeply to cooperate against a mutual enemy, ISIS-K, and whether to release $9.4 billion in the Afghan government’s foreign exchange reserves frozen in the US.
The EU reaches a vaccination milestone
About 70 percent of adults in the EU have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, officials said yesterday, putting the bloc among the world leaders in vaccination despite a slow start.
While countries like France and Italy have introduced strong incentives to get people vaccinated by requiring a vaccination certificate to dine indoors or enter cultural venues, vaccine hesitancy and poor communication have left many Eastern European countries behind.
By the numbers: More than 80 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated in Belgium, Denmark and Portugal, and more than 75 percent in Spain and the Netherlands. Including teenagers and children, more than 55 percent of the total EU population is fully vaccinated.
citable: “The pandemic is not over yet,” warned Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. “We need more. I call on everyone who can to get vaccinated.”
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
A slow recovery from Hurricane Ida
Widespread power outages in Louisiana and Mississippi hamper recovery efforts after Hurricane Ida. Officials begged residents not to return to their homes right away. Follow live updates here.
As search and rescue efforts in smaller towns stalled, the ugly reality of the storm’s aftermath, even in places like New Orleans that were spared the worst, became woefully clear.
Officials stressed that they have not completely ruled out the possibility of large-scale evacuations for the 200,000 people estimated to remain in New Orleans.
Difficult decisions: Some are annoyed by officials’ warnings to stay away. A hotel stay is a costly alternative, while some people for whom homeowners insurance is prohibitively expensive feel they can’t afford not to go home and save what they can.
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A century after collectors from the American Museum of Natural History traveled to Colombia to study the bird fauna and collected more than 800 birds in the process, a team of researchers has embarked on a similar expedition to see what remains and what has changed. Above a pair of Lafresnaye’s piculets, small tropical woodpeckers.
“We’re not trying to create high-quality bird collections for the sake of accumulation or out of nationalism,” said a scientist who worked on the project. “We’re doing this because we need this.”
Find Aretha Franklin
Throughout her career, Aretha Franklin remained fairly unknowable to the public. “I didn’t dent her armor,” complained David Ritz, a biographer.
Because of this privacy, it is difficult for images of Franklin on screen to fully capture the artist. The most recent effort — the movie “Respect,” starring Jennifer Hudson, above — remains “too close to Franklin’s own self-image, a story she had tightly controlled,” Salamishah Tillet writes in The Times.
By contrast, Sydney Pollack’s documentary “Amazing Grace” wouldn’t have hit the screens had it been up to Franklin, who repeatedly filed a lawsuit to block its release. Filmed in 1972 over two nights in a Los Angeles Baptist church, the film was released after Franklin’s death.
The film, Tillet writes, is “all gospel, a cinematic recording of spiritual ecstasy and religious upliftment, and a Franklin surrendering her voice to God and being at her most sublime.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook?
A spicy yogurt marinade makes these chicken thighs wonderfully tender and browns them nicely on the grill.
What to read?
In his latest novel, “The Magician,” Colm Toibin portrays the life of Thomas Mann, the Nobel Prize-winning author of “The Magic Mountain” and “Death in Venice.”