Afghanistan, Booster Shots, OnlyFans: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Wednesday.
1. The U.S. mounted a furious push to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies from Kabul, just six days before American troops are scheduled to complete their withdrawal.
About 1,500 U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan, 500 of whom are hoping to leave in the coming days, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. More than 4,500 Americans have been flown out since Aug. 14, Blinken said. Tens of thousands of Afghans who qualify for special immigration visas are also waiting to be evacuated, and more than 10,000 people were inside the airport Wednesday. Here’s what it looks like on the ground.
U.S. and allied planes have flown 19,200 people out of Kabul in the past 24 hours, officials said.
Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of Afghans will be targeted by the Taliban if they stay, including Afghan security forces, government officials and women’s rights advocates. A Taliban spokesman told women to stay home because fighters had not been trained to treat them well.
As the U.S. steps up its evacuation operation, the biggest immediate threat comes from an Islamic State affiliate known as the Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K.
2. The case for vaccine booster shots is growing.
Pfizer and BioNTech said a third shot of their coronavirus vaccine sharply increased antibodies against the virus, adding that they would ask the F.D.A. to approve a third shot. Johnson & Johnson also reported strong results for boosters of its single-dose vaccine and will submit the data to federal regulators.
And a new large study found that the risk of heart inflammation is higher after coronavirus infection than after vaccination.
In other vaccine news, Delta Air Lines said unvaccinated workers must pay $200 more per month for insurance. Mandatory vaccination for active-duty U.S. service members will begin immediately, the defense secretary said.
3. Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, will meet with President Biden at the White House tomorrow, and they’re already at odds.
In an interview with The Times, Bennett said he would oppose a new Iran nuclear deal and ruled out Palestinian peace talks, both key policies backed by Biden. Bennett said he would use the meeting to reset the tone of Israel’s relationship with the U.S., which was rocky between Benjamin Netanyahu and Democratic administrations, and present a new strategic vision on Iran that included continued covert attacks.
4. About 89 percent of federal funds to help renters avoid eviction during the pandemic has not been distributed.
The $46.5 billion rental aid program continues to disburse money at a slow pace as the White House braces for a Supreme Court order that could strike down a new national moratorium on evictions. Just $5.1 billion has been distributed, according to the Treasury Department, which oversees the program.
Last night, the Supreme Court refused to block a ruling that would require the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era policy forcing some asylum seekers to await approval in Mexico. That means migrant camps like the one below are likely to spring up along the border once again.
5. The U.S., like most of the world, is becoming both drier and wetter in the era of climate change. It just depends on where you live.
Heavy downpours caused devastating flash floods in central Tennessee, tearing apart houses and killing more than 20 people. New York City saw record-breaking rains last weekend.
But a ranching community in Northern California faces destruction by fire. In North Dakota, drought is stunting crops and forcing ranchers to sell cattle before the animals starve.
This divide, a wetter East and a drier West, reflects a broader pattern that’s emerged in the era of climate change. These maps tell the story of the two Americas: one parched, one soaked.
6. We interviewed Aleksei Navalny, Russia’s opposition leader, about life in prison.
In written questions and answers that spanned 54 pages, Navalny compared the penal colony where he was serving a sentence to a “Chinese labor camp,” predicted that “the Putin regime” would collapse and described being forced to watch eight hours of state TV every day.
“Reading, writing or doing anything else” is prohibited, Navalny said of the forced screen time, a program that has replaced hard labor. “You have to sit in a chair and watch TV.” And if an inmate nods off, he said, the guards shout, “Don’t sleep, watch!”
7. OnlyFans, the subscription service that helped put X-rated material in the hands of its adult performers, reversed its decision to ban explicit content.
The change was, in part, because of a backlash by creators who were beginning to leave the platform in numbers. The initial announcement last week led to some panic in the pornographic industry, one publicist said, as well as sadness that just as respect and empathy for sex workers was growing, a business they’d helped build was gearing up to cast them out.
It’s almost phone season again — the time of year when Apple, Google and Samsung bombard us with glitzy marketing campaigns to persuade us to upgrade. Here’s some advice to help you decide.
8. “I’ve dreamed of this for 18 months, as we all have.”
That’s Dan Micciche, the musical director of “Wicked,” at the first rehearsal since Broadway shut down for the pandemic. In spaces around Manhattan, the casts and crews of Broadway shows are reconvening for the first time as they prepare to take the stage. We were there for some of those reunions.
In St. Louis, a production of Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie” has become an immersive event. The open-air performance is staged at the apartment building where Williams once lived. “We’re using fire escapes that he probably walked on,” said the director. “It is very humbling and very daunting.”
9. NASA said that an asteroid would have a close brush with Earth in the 2100s. How do we avoid the very unwelcome cosmic visitor?
For almost 20 years, a team of researchers has been trying to answer that question. Using a specially designed gun owned by NASA, they’ve repeatedly fired projectiles at meteorites and measured how the space rocks recoiled and, in some cases, shattered.
The preferred tactic for planetary defense is nudging an incoming asteroid aside. The way to do that, scientists generally agree, is to deliberately set up a collision between an asteroid and a much less massive object, altering the trajectory of the asteroid enough to pass by Earth harmlessly. “It may barely miss, but barely missing is enough,” one physicist said.
10. And finally, a young pilot goes for a big record.
Zara Rutherford, 19, is trying to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. She left Belgium last week in a two-seat, 22-foot-long plane and plans to complete her journey by early November. Bad weather may be the biggest obstacle.
Rutherford said that she saw her journey not only as a personal challenge — her longest flight until now was from Texas to Jordan — but also as a way of raising awareness about the gender gap in aviation, science and technology. Rutherford is scheduled to land tomorrow at Kennedy International Airport in New York, a rare destination for such a small plane.
“It’s definitely going to be the biggest airfield I will ever land at in my life,” she said.
Have a soaring night.
Marcus Payadue compiled photos for this briefing.
Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.
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