Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 6, 2021

Taliban seizes Afghan resistance's last province, millions lose jobless benefits on Labor Day, and more

1

Taliban seizes last province held by Afghan resistance 

The Taliban said Monday they had "completely conquered" Panjshir province north of Kabul, the last holdout of the anti-Taliban resistance. The Islamist group sent thousands of fighters into Panjshir overnight to cement its control over the country a week after the last U.S. forces withdrew. "They rejected talks and then we had to send our forces to fight," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Kabul news conference. A senior official of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan said Ahmad Massoud, head of the resistance, was in a "safe place," and former vice president Amrullah Saleh had escaped to Tajikistan. The official vowed that "the resistance will continue."

2

Millions lose jobless benefits on Labor Day

More than seven million unemployed people are losing jobless benefits Monday as three federal programs for people who lost work during the pandemic expire. Another three million people are losing a $300 weekly boost to their state unemployment benefits. The ending of the jobless aid comes as a coronavirus surge driven by the highly infectious Delta variant threatens to derail the economic recovery. Friday's August jobs report showed that U.S. employers added just 235,000 positions during the month, falling far short of the 720,000 economists had expected. "Ultimately, the Delta variant wave is a harsh reminder that the pandemic is still in the driver's seat, and it controls our economic future," said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at jobs site Glassdoor.

3

Several evacuation flights prevented from leaving Afghanistan

At least four planes chartered to get hundreds of people out of Afghanistan have been prevented from leaving the country, The Associated Press reported Sunday, citing Afghan and U.S. officials. An Afghan official at the airport in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif said the passengers on the jets were Afghans, and many lacked passports or visas they needed to leave the country. The top Republican on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said some people on the flights were Americans trying to evacuate following the U.S. military's withdrawal and the Taliban's takeover of the country. "The Taliban will not let them leave the airport," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on Fox News Sunday.

4

Guinea special forces leader announces coup

The head of Guinea's special forces announced on state television Sunday that he had staged a coup and dissolved the West African country's constitution and government. Heavy gunfire was heard around the nation's capital, and pictures circulated on social media showing President Alpha Condé being held by men in military fatigues. "We are no longer going to entrust politics to one man, we are going to entrust it to the people. We come only for that," said Col. Mamady Doumbouya, the special forces head. Condé became Guinea's first democratically elected leader in 2010 after military takeovers in 1984 and 2008. If the coup holds, it will end Condé's controversial third term, won after a constitutional change to skirt a two-term limit, after just over a year.

5

South Africa's Jacob Zuma granted medical parole

Former South African President Jacob Zuma, 79, has been released from prison on medical parole after undergoing surgery last month for an undisclosed ailment, the government's correctional services department said Sunday. Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after failing to appear at a corruption inquiry. He had only served two months of the sentence. The corrections department said it was "impelled by a medical report" to give the former freedom fighter, who fought apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela, medical parole so he could continue to battle his illness with "dignity," under the supervision of the system of community corrections. John Steenhuisen, the leader of the Democratic Alliance opposition party, called the parole "entirely unlawful." 

6

Ex-Marine suspected of fatally shooting 4, including infant

A former Marine sharpshooter was taken into custody Sunday and accused of fatally shooting four people near Lakeland, Florida. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that after an "active shooter rampage" and a shootout with law enforcement officers, the suspect, identified as Brian Riley, 33, surrendered. Deputies found the bodies of a 40-year-old man, a 3-month-old baby, and the baby's 33-year-old mother inside a house, and the baby's 62-year-old grandmother in a second home on the same property. "This man killed four people this morning, tried to kill our deputies and then gave up," Judd said. Riley later allegedly tried to take an officer's gun at a hospital. Riley told deputies he was on methamphetamine, Judd said.

7

Hurricane Larry threatens East Coast with dangerous surf

Hurricane Larry continued to churn through the open Atlantic early Monday as a Category 3 storm with top sustained winds of 120 miles per hour. Larry is "likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions" on the East Coast from the middle to end of the week, although it is not expected to make a direct hit on the U.S. as the recovery from deadly Hurricane Ida continues. "At this point, it is most likely that Larry will miss the United States and stay a few hundred miles away from the Northeast coast," Accuweather said. The storm could start hitting Bermuda with large swells on Tuesday, although it is expected to remain far enough to the east to spare it a direct hit.

8

U.S. to distribute Pfizer booster on time, but Moderna's might be delayed

The United States is on track to start widely distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shot the week of Sept. 20 as planned, but the Moderna booster might be delayed, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation. Pfizer has submitted its trial data to the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the necessary approval, but Moderna's might not get in on time for the rollout. "We hope that Moderna would also be able to do it, so we could do it simultaneously," Fauci said. "But if not, we'll do it sequentially." The U.S. recommends the third shot of the vaccines eight months after the second dose.

9

Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier halted by health officials

A World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was suspended on Sunday after local Brazilian health officials walked onto the field to remove three of Argentina's England-based players and a fourth player for failing to comply with coronavirus restrictions. Brazil's health agency said the players had been ordered to quarantine in compliance with the South American nation's COVID-19 protocols, and should not have been playing. Antonio Barra Torres, the president of Brazil's health agency, Anvisa, said the players would be fined and deported. The game, which featured Argentine superstar Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar, was halted in the seventh minute. The referee wound up suspending the match with the score at 0-0. FIFA, soccer's governing body, will have to decide how to settle the match.

10

'Shang-Chi' has huge opening weekend despite Delta variant

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings grossed $71.4 million domestically over three days this weekend, and is expected to take in $83.5 million through Labor Day. The latest Marvel film's three-day debut was the second biggest of the pandemic era, behind the last Marvel movie, Black Widow, and by far the best Labor Day opening ever. The performance was a good sign for the film industry, as it came as the coronavirus surge fueled by the Delta variant threatens to disrupt the economic recovery. Shang-Chi is the first superhero film centered around an Asian lead. Unlike Black Widow, Shang-Chi was exclusively released in movie theaters and wasn't available to stream online, though it will hit Disney+ after 45 days.

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