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The Taliban seized three Afghan cities yesterday — the industrial hub of Kunduz, Sar-i-Pul and Taliqan, all within the north — in a staggering advance, as authorities forces struggled to carry the road. Much more populous cities are beneath siege, a devastating setback for the Afghan authorities.

The autumn of 5 cities in three days comes simply weeks earlier than U.S. forces are set to finish a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, laying naked a tough predicament for President Biden, who has vowed to not change his plans.

For the reason that withdrawal started, the Taliban have captured greater than half of Afghanistan’s 400-odd districts, in keeping with some assessments. Their latest assaults violate the 2020 peace deal between the Taliban and the U.S., during which the terrorist insurgents dedicated to not attacking provincial facilities like Kunduz.

Propaganda struggle: The Afghan central authorities has acknowledged little or no of the Taliban’s achieve, in an effort to fend off panic and decrease losses.

Subsequent up: The Paralympics start on Aug. 24 in Tokyo. And Paris is making ready for 2024.

Coronavirus: Since early July, a complete of 436 individuals linked to the Olympics have examined optimistic for the coronavirus. And because the Video games opened on July 23, each day instances exterior the bubble in Tokyo have greater than tripled.

Listed below are the newest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In different developments:


Enormous wildfires raged for a sixth day yesterday in Greece and close by Turkey, forcing hundreds from their properties and razing huge tracts of forestland. International locations together with Britain, Germany and the U.S. have stepped in to assist the Greek firefighting effort.

The worst of the fires Sunday have been on the island of Evia, which has seen big sections of pristine pine forests decreased to ash, and on the southern Peloponnese peninsula. The hearth danger will stay excessive for a number of days, in keeping with the Greek authorities.

Europe is enduring a protracted warmth wave and drought which have created tinderbox situations. The temperature in central Greece is predicted to exceed 41 levels Celsius, or almost 106 levels Fahrenheit, at this time.

Official response: Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the prime minister of Greece, pledged that victims can be compensated and that destroyed forestland can be regenerated. The fast precedence, he pressured, was to guard human lives and, when attainable, property.

Associated: Our local weather reporter Henry Fountain has been following excessive climate occasions. Right here’s what you must know.

In different local weather news:

A centuries-old custom in Albania during which some girls declared themselves males so they may take pleasure in male privilege is dying out, as younger girls have extra choices accessible to them.

“It was an escape from the position given to girls,” stated Gjok Luli, an knowledgeable on the area’s traditions, “however there is no such thing as a determined want to flee anymore.”

Ernesto Collado is an actor turned perfume maker, whose workshop sits in a village within the northeast nook of Spain. For him, the masks introduced by the pandemic have severed humanity from its sense of scent, writes Nicholas Casey, our Madrid bureau chief, in this dispatch from Spain. Leer en español.

It threatened, too, the way forward for his smelling excursions in his native Catalonia, during which group members get a whiff of sea scents, wild rosemary and the fragrant plant vitex agnus-castus, amongst different olfactory experiences.

“Scent goes on to your feelings, you might be crying, you don’t know why,” he stated. “Smelling has an influence that not one of the different senses have, and I have to inform you now, it’s molecular, it goes to the essence of the essence.”

The world lacks genuine scents, Collado stated. Widespread perfumes, although meant to evoke flowers, are laced with artificial compounds, whereas many individuals are extra conversant in synthetic vanilla than its pure analog.

“We have now by no means had so many fragrances round us,” he stated. “However on the similar time, we do not know of what life actually smells like.”

The nutty taste of this on a regular basis dal comes from cut up pigeon peas, boiled till tender and bolstered with spices bloomed in scorching ghee.

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard play star-crossed lovers within the musical “Annette,” which our critic calls a “extremely cerebral, formally complicated movie.”

The newest e-book from the French author Leïla Slimani, “Within the Nation of Others,” is modeled on her grandmother’s immigration to Morocco amid its battle for independence.

Right here’s at this time’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Ballroom dance achieved by Belle and the Beast (5 letters).

And right here is the Spelling Bee.

Yow will discover all our puzzles right here.


That’s it for at this time’s briefing. Wishing you an important begin to the week. — Natasha

P.S. Ben Mueller, who has been masking the pandemic from London, is becoming a member of the Well being and Science desk as a medical reporter.

The newest episode of “The Each day” is about unvaccinated individuals within the U.S.

You possibly can attain Natasha and the group at briefing@nytimes.com.

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