5 things to know for August 31: Afghanistan, Ida, coronavirus, China, abortion

5 things to know for August 31: Afghanistan, Ida, coronavirus, China, abortion

As many as 750,000 households are so far behind on rent they could be evicted this year, according to an estimate from Goldman Sachs. That is, unless Congress chooses to approve a new eviction moratorium like the one that was struck down by the Supreme Court last week.

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1. Afghanistan

The last US military planes have left Afghanistan, marking the end of the US’ longest war and ushering in a new era of uncertainty for a country under resurgent Taliban rule. As of Monday, 122,000 people were evacuated by the US military in the final days of the chaotic and deadly withdrawal. There are no US diplomats left in the country either, meaning the US Embassy in Kabul will likely suspend operations. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US’ work in Afghanistan is not done. One immediate priority is working with allies to get the airport in Kabul reopened so remaining Americans and allied Afghans can get out safely. Many challenges remain for the people of Afghanistan now that the Taliban has retaken control, and journalists and activists are urging the public not to forget about the humanitarian needs that will arise there.

2. Ida

Flooded roads and impassable debris are hampering initial recovery efforts in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida, now a tropical depression, blew through on Sunday. In some areas, those who evacuated may not be able to return for weeks. Many hospitals in the state now have to contend with the double onslaught of storm complications and Covid-19 patients. Hospitals and medical centers reported debris and water leaks, while others are working on borrowed time with generators and some are having to consider transporting patients to hospitals in other states. It’s no secret climate change is making hurricanes even more destructive, with more rain, stronger winds and slower paths. This storm, meteorologists say, was a perfect example of all three factors.

3. Coronavirus

Overall effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines has not significantly decreased yet for most vaccinated Americans. That’s what the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was told yesterday during a meeting to discuss the need for booster doses of coronavirus vaccines. The White House has said it will start offering booster doses in September, but it is ultimately up to the CDC and FDA, and no final decision has been made on the issue yet. Meanwhile, genetics researchers are keeping a wary eye on a new Covid variant that has popped up in parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. New variants don’t always spell significant danger. In fact, sometimes they can weaken a virus. But experts will continue to track it as it spreads.

4. China

China has barred children under the age of 18 from playing video games on weekdays. Now, kids are limited to just three hours most weekends, plus some time on Friday evenings and on public holidays. These new restrictions mark a significant tightening of rules around the country’s massive gaming industry. In 2019, the Chinese government released an initial set of rules restricting gameplay to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends for children. Authorities say the restrictions are intended to keep young people from getting addicted to video games. However, the country’s clampdown on private enterprise has spooked the markets and crept from the tech sector to other areas like private education.

5. Abortion

Lawyers for abortion clinics in Texas are asking the Supreme Court to block a controversial abortion law that’s set to go into effect in the state on Wednesday. The law bans abortions at six weeks and allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the law. If it goes into effect, it will be one of the strictest pieces of abortion legislation in the country. Supporters of abortion rights say such laws are a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 opinion legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.


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> 10,000

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“The possibilities are endless on how fast we can go.”

David Brown, Paralympian and the world’s fastest blind athlete. Coming into the Tokyo Games, Brown is the first totally blind athlete to run under 11 seconds in the 100-meter with his classification record of 10.92 seconds.


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Straight out of a storybook

Take a relaxing journey to an island church on the emerald waters of Lake Bled in Slovenia. (Click here to view)

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