10 Things in Politics: The Taliban push back on Biden

·6 min read

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Here's what we're talking about:

With Phil Rosen.

taliban fighters in kabul
Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 15. Stringer/Reuters

1. BIDEN'S LOOMING DECISION: President Joe Biden will have to run the gauntlet on his Afghanistan exit. He is mulling extending his self-imposed deadline for US forces to leave Kabul by August 31. An extension would be welcomed by many American allies, including the UK, that have been pressing for such a decision. But the Taliban have threatened "consequences" if the US extends its longest war.

Biden could make his decision as soon as today: The Pentagon has told the White House it needs a quick decision, given the amount of time it will take to withdraw the nearly 6,000 troops on the ground - and their equipment - after the civilian evacuations conclude, CNN reports.

  • The Taliban have drawn a red line: "If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations - the answer is no. Or there would be consequences," a spokesman for the militant group told Sky News.

An extension would also come amid security concerns: US troops are using alternative routes to the airport because of the threat posed by an Islamic State cell, CNN reports. The Pentagon is aware that large crowds create a target for terrorist groups. Violence is already occurring, as an Afghan officer was killed Monday in a firefight with "unknown attackers."

The crowds at the airport are so large they can be seen in satellite photos.

2. FDA approves COVID-19 vaccine for first time: The Food and Drug Administration issued full approval for Pfizer and BioNTech's shot, which will now be marketed under the brand name Comirnaty. Public-health officials, virologists, and legal experts think full approval could help persuade more hesitant people to get vaccinated.

  • Key stat: A recent poll found 30% of adults said they would be more likely to be vaccinated if one of the three shots already used in the US received full FDA approval. That scenario has now happened.

The new "Mad Men" think they know how to sell the shot: 6 advertising executives on how to win over the vaccine hesitant.

WATCH: How the Delta variant has changed the course of the pandemic

Insider video

3. House Democrats are locked in a standoff over a major proposal: Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent lawmakers home after midnight after hours of negotiations with centrist Democrats failed to yield a deal to move forward on the party's massive $3.5 trillion spending plan, Politico reports. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the de facto leader of the holdouts, had been moving toward cutting a deal with Pelosi, but five other lawmakers are still dug in. The latest on the internal drama over a massive part of Biden's agenda.

New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference the day after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation at the New York State Capitol, in Albany, New York, U.S., August 11, 2021.
Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz

4. Kathy Hochul is now governor of New York: Hochul was sworn in early Tuesday as the first woman to lead the Empire State, following Andrew Cuomo's decision to resign amid sexual-harassment allegations, The New York Times reports. Hochul will have to juggle numerous pressing issues right away.

  • Cuomo reportedly tried to get rid of his dog: Staffers were asked whether they wanted Captain - a shepherd, Siberian, and malamute mix - the Times Union reports. A Cuomo representative denied the now-former governor tried to paw off his friend. More on the dog days.

5. Far-right host Alex Jones breaks with Trump over vaccines: Jones shamed former President Donald Trump for advising attendees of his rally in Alabama over the weekend to get vaccinated. "Maybe Trump's actually a dumbass," Jones said. Some people at the rally even booed Trump after his suggestion.

6. Vice President Kamala Harris issues major rebuke of China: Harris called out Beijing for its incursion into the South China Sea, saying during an address in Singapore that its actions there amounted to "coercion" and "intimidation," the Associated Press reports. The vice president is trying to use her trip through Southeast Asia to cement the US's commitment to its allies in the region. Harris' comments come at a critical time for the White House.

7. Capitol Police finds shooting of rioter Ashley Babbitt was "lawful": The department's decision to formally close its investigation follows the Justice Department's determination that charges were not warranted, The Times reports. Babbitt was among a group of people who tried to push their way through the entrance to the Speaker's Lobby not far from where officers were evacuating lawmakers from the House chamber on January 6. More on the news.

Smog Tower in New Delhi
A man next to the smog tower in New Delhi. Adnan Abidi/Reuters

8. India installs its first "smog tower" consisting of 40 giant fans: The Indian capital of New Delhi opened the country's first "smog tower" in a bid to purify the air in the world's most polluted capital city, but experts aren't convinced it's effective. Critics say the government should focus on reducing emissions instead of building smog towers.

  • Deadly heat waves have spurred the hiring of "chief heat officers" all over the world: From Miami to Athens, these new leadership positions are meant to guide tourists and citizens through extreme weather and explore new ways to cool cities down. See the view from these "urban heat islands."

9. Sex workers are furious over OnlyFans' policy change: Insider checked in with three sex workers to discuss OnlyFans' new restrictions on sexually explicit content. They shared how they'd adapt: "We'll find a way to survive this exodus," one said.

10. Stop counting your steps. Instead, count your minutes: Doctors say you could more readily meet your health goals by focusing on daily movement rather than step count. Daily activity counters and avoiding a sedentary schedule can help keep you healthy and mobile. The 10,000-steps-a-day rule is arbitrary.

Today's trivia question: Over the weekend, Harris received an orchid named in her honor. In her native California, the world's second-largest tree is named after which president? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

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