Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

The Taliban on Tuesday announced an interim government, taking an important step in re-establishing their Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and emancipating many followers of their regime’s movement in the 1990s.

After weeks of assurances from Taliban leaders that they would usher in a moderate and inclusive style of governance, most of the acting appointments were senior officials who held similar roles decades ago.

It was a sign that the theocratic and conservative core of the Taliban remained unchanged. All were men, several of whom are listed by the United States and the UN as terrorists. Few of them were not Pashtuns.

The announcement came hours after the Taliban used force to disperse a protest of hundreds in Kabul.

Details: Mullah Mohammad Hassan, a founding member of the Taliban, has been appointed interim prime minister. The top security posts went to relatively newcomer young people. Other appointments were coming.

What to expect: US aid is still frozen and many of the new leaders are under sanctions. Other nations are waiting to see if the Taliban will respect the rights of women and minorities. Basic services like electricity are under threat and there are shortages of food and money.


More than 70 percent of adults in the EU have been fully immunized. But some Eastern European countries are far behind.

Bulgaria and Romania have fully immunized less than a third of their adult populations, compared to rates of 80 percent in Belgium, Denmark and Portugal. These eastern countries, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, also have some of the highest excess mortality rates in the bloc.

Scarcity of doses is no longer a problem. Instead, misinformation, mistrust of authorities and ignorance of the benefits seem to be behind the low numbers in Central and Eastern Europe.

The WHO warned last month that 230,000 people in Europe could die from the coronavirus by December, in part due to slowing vaccination rates and a lack of proactive government measures.

Neighbors of the EU in difficulty: Only 23 percent of the Albanian population has been fully immunized; this number drops to 11 percent in Georgia and 3 percent in Armenia.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:


In what was likely her last speech in the German parliament, Merkel pleaded with the Germans on Tuesday to choose her Christian Democratic Party’s candidate, Armin Laschet, over the center-left Social Democratic Party. “His government will stand for stability, reliability and moderation, and that is exactly what Germany needs.”

She has distanced herself from Olaf Scholz, her own MP and Social Democrat. Merkel denies her claims to be the true successor to her term.

The context: Since the end of July, the Christian Democratic Party has fallen in the polls, while Laschet has struggled to overcome a series of blunders that have plunged his popularity.

Strategy: Laschet began to warn that a government led by Scholz could move the country to the left. The German left has questioned the existence of NATO.

Have you ever wondered how cats get their stripes?

In 1952, famous code breaker Alan Turing laid the foundations for the field of mathematical biology in an article. Turing described what is called a reaction diffusion process in which two chemicals – one that stimulates growth and one that inhibits it – can cause regular and alternating patterns.

Now, a team of geneticists have found that this process plays a key role in creating the traditional tabby stripe pattern of some domestic cats. The pattern is evident even in embryonic tissue.

No one expected Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s adult nighttime programming block, to be a success. But over the past 20 years, it has become a hotbed of bizarre humor, with shows like “Rick and Morty” and “Tuca & Bertie” becoming the subject of cults.

Cartoon Network executives knew some adults watched their channel, but the network didn’t have a lot of budget to create original content for them. The result was simple, lo-fi animation that drew original ideas, including a show featuring a talking wad of meat (“Aqua Teen Hunger Force”) and a nerdy talk show hosted by superhero Hanna. -Barbera (“Space Ghost Coast to Coast”).

The production was not glamorous: the editor of the original first series of Adult Swim worked in a closet. A famous guest on this series, unaware of the weirdness he had signed up for, stepped out in the middle of the recording. But the audience grew and the shows remained bizarre.

“There were times when we laughed so hard that we literally cried because we loved our job so much,” said Eric Wareheim, a creator of the series. “We were doing things that we had never seen before in comedy or on television.” For a behind-the-scenes look at Adult Swim, read Sarah Bahr’s article.

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