Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

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Yesterday, the Taliban seized three Afghan towns – the trade hub of Kunduz, Sar-i-Pul and Taliqan, all located in the north – in a staggering advance, as government forces struggled to maintain the line. Even more populous cities are under siege, a devastating setback for the Afghan government.

The fall of five cities in three days comes just weeks before US forces are set to complete a total withdrawal from Afghanistan, exposing a predicament for President Biden, who has vowed not to change his plans.

Since the start of the withdrawal, the Taliban have captured more than half of the approximately 400 Afghan districts, according to some estimates. Their recent attacks violate the 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States, in which terrorist insurgents have pledged not to attack provincial centers like Kunduz.

Propaganda war: The central Afghan government has hardly recognized the Taliban’s gains, in an effort to stave off the panic and minimize the losses.

Next : The Paralympic Games begin August 24 in Tokyo. And Paris is preparing for 2024.

Coronavirus: Since early July, a total of 436 people linked to the Olympics have tested positive for the coronavirus. And since the Games opened on July 23, daily non-bubble cases in Tokyo have more than tripled.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:


Huge forest fires raged for a sixth day in Greece and neighboring Turkey yesterday, forcing thousands of people from their homes and razing vast swathes of forests. Countries like Britain, Germany and the United States have stepped in to aid Greek firefighting efforts.

The worst of the fires on Sunday occurred on the island of Evia, which saw huge sections of pristine pine forests reduced to ash, and in the southern Peloponnese peninsula. The risk of fire will remain high for several days, according to the Greek government.

Europe is experiencing a prolonged heat wave and drought which has created powder keg conditions. The temperature in central Greece is expected to exceed 41 degrees Celsius, or nearly 106 degrees Fahrenheit, today.

Official response: Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister, promised that the victims would be compensated and that the destroyed forests would be regenerated. The immediate priority, he stressed, was to protect human life and, if possible, property.

Related: Our climate reporter Henry Fountain has been tracking extreme weather events. Here’s what you need to know.

In other climate news:

A centuries-old tradition in Albania in which some women have declared themselves men in order to take advantage of male privileges is fading, as young women have more options available to them.

“It was an escape from the role given to women,” said Gjok Luli, an expert on traditions in the region, “but there is no longer a desperate need to escape.”

Ernesto Collado is an actor turned perfumer, whose workshop is located in a village in northeastern Spain. For him, the masks brought by the pandemic cut humanity off from its sense of smell, writes Nicholas Casey, our head of the Madrid office, in this dispatch from Spain. Leer in Spanish.

It also threatened the future of his scent tours in his native Catalonia, during which the band members inhale sea scents, wild rosemary and the aromatic plant vitex agnus-castus, among other scent experiences.

“The smell goes straight to your emotions, you cry, you don’t know why,” he said. “Smell has a power that none of the other senses have, and I have to tell you now, it’s molecular, it goes to the essence of gasoline.”

The world lacks authentic scents, Collado said. Popular scents, although meant to evoke flowers, are mixed with synthetic compounds, while many people are more familiar with artificial vanilla than its natural analogue.

“We have never had so many perfumes around us,” he said. “But at the same time, we have no idea what life really feels like.”

The nutty flavor of this everyday dal comes from split pigeon peas, boiled until tender and enhanced with flowery spices in hot ghee.

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard play doomed lovers in the musical “Annette”, which our reviewer describes as “a highly cerebral and formally complex film”.

The latest book by French writer Leïla Slimani, “In the land of others”, is inspired by her grandmother’s immigration to Morocco in her struggle for independence.

Here are today’s mini crosswords, and a hint: the ballroom dance performed by Beauty and the Beast (five letters).

And here is the spelling.

You can find all of our puzzles here.


That’s it for today’s briefing. I wish you a good start to the week. – Natasha

PS Ben Mueller, who was covering the pandemic from London, joins the Health and Science office as a medical journalist.

The last episode of “The Daily” concerns unvaccinated people in the United States

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].


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