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Multiple explosions have been reported outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. https://bit.ly/3sRqxm1
WHAT WE KNOW:
The first explosion appears to be a suicide attack outside the airport: “The blast happened at one of the entry gates of the Hamid Karzai International Airport and appears to be a suicide attack, according to three US officials. Crowds of Afghans have been gathering at the gates trying to gain access to the airport, which has become the only way out of the country since the Taliban took over Kabul.” (Via CNN’s Barbara Starr, Kylie Atwood and Ivana Kottasová) https://cnn.it/3BeB0uR
Were any Americans hurt?: At least three U.S. troops have been wounded, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov and Sune Engel Rasmussen).
Casualties: A Taliban official told Reuters that at least 13 people were killed, including children. Taliban guards were also injured. (Via Reuters’s Hümeyra Pamuk) https://bit.ly/3Dk0fxE
This is tough to read — a witness account: “An Afghan man who was on the edge of the crowd, near the Baron camp adjacent to the airport, said the explosion occurred in the middle of thousands of people. He said he saw many maimed, bloodied people being brought out and was told of many fatalities.” (From WSJ): https://on.wsj.com/3Bgr3NG
The State Department State Bureau of Consular Affairs tweeted: “#Afghanistan: There has been a large explosion at the airport, and there are reports of gunfire. U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates. Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.” https://bit.ly/3zoCceS
Biden was briefed shortly after: “President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race On The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Health Care — GOP attorneys general warn of legal battle over Biden's vaccine mandate MORE is in the White House Situation Room, I'm told, getting updates on the situation in Afghanistan, including the explosion near the Kabul airport that has caused many casualties.” (Via Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs) https://bit.ly/3DkL33v
Everything we know so far, via CNN: https://cnn.it/3BeB0uR
LAST NIGHT — AMERICANS HAD BEEN WARNED TO STAY AWAY FROM THE AIRPORT:
Via The Washington Post’s Rachel Pannett and Ellen Francis, “The U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned Americans late Wednesday to avoid traveling to Kabul airport because of unspecified security threats and advised citizens at three airport gates to ‘leave immediately.’” https://wapo.st/3jkxngS
What’s the specific threat?: “Although officials did not provide more details, the Biden administration has previously warned that the Islamic State poses a threat to the evacuation mission.”
Read the security alert from the embassy: https://bit.ly/2WuqYGM
A GROUP OF HOUSE MODERATES IS URGING BIDEN TO RECONSIDER HIS AUG. 31 WITHDRAWAL:
"From this week's bipartisan Member briefing, it is apparent that the Administration's set date for departure from Afghanistan on August 31st does not provide enough time to evacuate all American citizens and our partners,” Problem Solvers Caucus wrote. https://bit.ly/3BfED3W
It’s a hot, humid Thursday in Washington. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to firstname.lastname@example.org — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.
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MORE FROM AFGHANISTAN
Yesterday’s threats had halted some evacuations:
Via The New York Times’s Megan Specia, Steven Erlanger and Eric Schmitt, “Several nations announced on Thursday that they were halting their evacuations from the Kabul airport after reports a day earlier of a security threat at the airport, as the window for airlifts appeared to narrow…days out from the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.” https://nyti.ms/3BeoYlb
Which countries?: “Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands all said that they would no longer be able to facilitate airlifts from Hamid Karzai International Airport.”
What about the U.S.?: The U.S. will continue with evacuations through the Aug. 31 deadline.
HOW MANY AMERICANS ARE STILL IN AFGHANISTAN?:
At least 1,500, according to The New York Times’s Lara Jakes and Michael Levenson.
WHERE EVACUATIONS STAND:
Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Republicans are pledging big headaches for President Biden if they can win back control of one or both chambers of Congress next year.” https://bit.ly/3gA9ikk
What Republicans are threatening: “Amid the days-long fallout over Afghanistan, GOP lawmakers have floated everything from launching select committees to impeachment to even questioning if Biden should be removed through the 25th Amendment.”
How serious are those threats?: “The comments are, for now, just rhetoric that plays well with their base. But it’s also a potential preview of how a GOP-controlled Congress could try to trip up Biden heading into 2024.”
LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
Hospitalizations are very, very high:
Via The Washington Post’s Bryan Pietsch, Jacqueline Dupree and Adela Suliman, “More than 100,000 people are hospitalized with covid-19 in the United States, a level not seen since Jan. 30 — when coronavirus vaccines were not widely available — as the country grapples with the delta variant’s spread.” https://wapo.st/3BfbRAq
Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage, “Live music has become one more battlefield in the nation’s culture war over COVID-19.”
For example — on one side: “Americana star Jason Isbell recently announced he would require all fans at his forthcoming shows to be vaccinated or show a negative test result.”
Then on the other side: “Artist, Jason Aldean, told a Long Island, N.Y., audience from the stage earlier this month, ‘The coolest thing about all this [is] I don’t see one f------ mask ... I’ve had just about enough of that shit.’”
More examples and why this matters — it’s a pretty interesting read: https://bit.ly/3gxrCuE
Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 38,243,752
U.S. death toll: 632,447
Breakdown of the numbers: https://cnn.it/2UAgW3y
Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 365 million shots have been given.
Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 891,838 doses
For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.
Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH
CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration Overnight Health Care — Nicki Minaj stokes uproar over vaccines Fauci responds to Nicki Minaj's vaccine worries MORE added: “Those involved in the evacuation process have told me about [Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs)] being turned away at the gate by the US, and now there are questions as to whether Biden administration is de-prioritizing legal permanent residents of the US as well.” https://bit.ly/2WqPsBj
The House and Senate are out. President Biden is in Washington, D.C.
8:30 a.m. EDT: President Biden received the President’s Daily Brief.
9:15 a.m. EDT: President Biden met with his national security team to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan.
NEW — Biden’s schedule is changing due to the situation in Kabul: The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan tweeted:
“-POTUS mtg w PM Bennett of Israel that was supposed to be at 1130 postponed.
-POTUS 3 pm mtg w govs to help resettle Afghans canceled.
-Daily briefing also postponed.” https://bit.ly/2XQpirW
WHAT TO WATCH:
10:45 a.m. EDT: The White House COVID Response Team held a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3komE4p
3 p.m. EDT: Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby and CENTCOM Commander General Kenneth McKenzie hold a press briefing on the Afghanistan evacuation efforts. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3DkxlxG
IN LIGHTER NEWS:
Today is National Cherry Popsicle Day.
Today is National Dog Day! To celebrate with your favorite furry friend, here’s a list of deals for pups today, via Refinery29: https://r29.co/3ymSUK9
Enjoy this endless stream of pet photos: https://bit.ly/3sWFUd5
And because the news is particularly heavy today, I want to leave you on a lighter note: here’s a cat who is doing absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing at all: https://bit.ly/2WknJSX