5 things to know for August 18: Afghanistan, coronavirus, tropical storms, wildfires, China

5 things to know for August 18: Afghanistan, coronavirus, tropical storms, wildfires, China

Major retail chains are having trouble finding workers, but not necessarily for jobs in the store — it’s the positions in warehouses that they’re struggling to fill.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Afghanistan

As the Taliban regime solidifies control in Afghanistan, the US is left in the uncomfortable position of relying on the group to ensure a safe exit from the catastrophe. The Taliban have agreed to provide safe passage to Kabul’s airport for civilians who can come to the US, but there is uncertainty over how long the group will stay cooperative, and what actions they may take against people still in the country. Taliban leaders have said they will provide “blanket amnesty” for all in Afghanistan as they establish their new regime, but US officials and some citizens are wary of that promise. In the few days since the Taliban took the capital city of Kabul, women have reportedly stayed indoors for fear of their safety.

2 Coronavirus

Child cases of coronavirus are still rising in the US, and experts say the return to schools will gravely complicate that. The numbers paint a dangerous picture: More than 121,000 child Covid-19 cases were reported last week, which the American Academy of Pediatrics says is a substantial increase. About 99% of new cases in the country are due to the Delta variant. And right now, only 50.9% of the population is fully vaccinated. School mask mandates would help, but some governors and local leaders are doing everything they can to stymie such precautions. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has fought against pandemic precautions in his state, has tested positive for coronavirus. He is fully vaccinated and is currently quarantining, his office says.

3. Tropical storms

Tropical Storm Grace is heading toward Mexico today, threatening to bring with it hurricane-force winds, deadly rip tides and up to half a foot of rain. The storm is expected to reach hurricane strength by tonight and could strengthen even more by the time the center reaches the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. The storm has already passed over Haiti, disrupting the nation’s recovery efforts after last weekend’s earthquake. Along the eastern coast of the US, Tropical Depression Fred is expected to bring flash flooding to the Carolinas. The system was downgraded from a tropical storm but has already released tornadoes and heavy rains further south.

4. Wildfires

A new wildfire has exploded in California, tripling in size within a day. The Caldor Fire burning in El Dorado County has charred more than 30,000 acres and is 0% contained. Cal Fire officials say it’s a threat to several highly populated areas, and nearly 7,000 people have been evacuated from its path. There are now 104 large fires burning, mostly in the West, which is experiencing historic drought conditions. Another fast-moving fire that is alarming officials is the Ford Corkscrew Fire burning northwest of Spokane, Washington. The Dixie Fire, the largest fire currently burning and the second-largest fire in California history, has also grown while containment remains stagnant.

5. China

Chinese President Xi Jinping has issued a bold new pledge to redistribute wealth in the country in the interest of “social fairness” and “common prosperity” — a socially significant phrase in China that calls to mind former Communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong. It isn’t clear how Xi intends to carry this plan out, but a state news agency speculated the government could consider taxation or other ways of redistributing income and wealth. Meanwhile, Chinese state media have leveraged the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan to stoke the flames of nationalism, lauding what they see as the decline of American influence. They’re also using this opportunity to taunt Taiwan, a US ally, with renewed threats of invasion.


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1.2 million

That’s how many people have been impacted by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Saturday, according to UNICEF. The quake left at least 1,941 people dead and more than 6,900 injured, and that toll is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue.


“If we don’t get the number of bus drivers that we need, that we’d have to combine routes and make other adjustments.”

Bob Mosier, a spokesperson for Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland. School districts around the country are experiencing a critical shortage in bus drivers, which is leading them to consider higher pay and other possible solutions.


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