As I walk around Kabul, the streets are empty of women

A few days ago the capital was full of women going about their business. Now, the few that remain walk fast and full of fear

Four days after the quick and unexpected invasion of Kabul by the Taliban, the streets of the Afghan capital are almost entirely devoid of women.

The few women who are on the streets are wearing the traditional blue burqa, Islamic garb that, while customary in Afghanistan, was not used as widely in Kabul until now. Many women are dressed in the long black clothes commonly worn in the Middle East and Arab nations.

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Children passed over the walls of Kabul airport amid evacuation chaos – video

Footage shows desperate crowds passing children to US soldiers in the hope of getting them to safety at Kabul international airport. Taliban forces have set up checkpoints outside the airport, raising fears that even people with the correct documents needed to leave Afghanistan may not get through to their evacuation flights  

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My escape from Afghanistan on a US military plane: ‘It was total chaos’ – video

Hundreds of people on the runway, women and children screaming, and gunshots lighting up the sky: Afghan journalist Ramin Rahman spoke to the Guardian about his chaotic escape from Hamid Karzai international airport the day the Taliban took Kabul.

Rahman, 27, left Kabul fearing for his life. As 'a progressive, outspoken journalist with tattoos' – he is basically the antithesis of what the Taliban stand for.

He described several hours of uncertainty and panic, running with hundreds of others towards US aircraft, and the agonising wait before the plane took off from Afghanistan

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Covid live news: Barcelona curfew ‘not justified’ as infection rates fall, court rules; Japan reports record cases

Spanish court lifts coronavirus curfew imposed on most of Catalonia; critical care beds reaching capacity in Japan

The European Commission has said it had reached a temporary agreement with South Africa to use a plant there to bottle Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines that are being imported into the EU.

Reuters reports that the deal is likely to stir concerns about drugmakers’ power in negotiating supply deals with countries, after WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday he was “stunned” by news that J&J vaccines were being exported from South Africa to the EU.

It is time that all secret vaccine contracts with vaccine manufacturers and distributors are published and reviewed - we have a right to know what has been agreed in our name. In our view, J&J are complicit in vaccine apartheid, diverting doses from those who really need them to the wealthiest countries on earth. It’s colonialist extraction, plain and simple.

Many rich countries are considering offering a third dose of the Covid vaccine to those who have already received two. But are these booster shots necessary?

Preliminary data shows that people do experience a fall in protective antibody levels weeks and months after getting their jabs, particularly against the highly-infectious Delta variant. However, it is unclear what level of antibodies or other tools in the immune system’s armament confer protective immunity.

Related: Are Covid booster jabs necessary?

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Australian government urged to expand refugee intake as Afghans seek to flee Taliban rule

Scott Morrison says the 3,000 humanitarian intake places now allotted is ‘a floor not a ceiling’ and the overall program could expand to ‘achieve more’

Australia may expand its humanitarian migration intake to accept more Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, after criticism it was doing too little to help vulnerable populations and had moved too slowly to rescue Afghans who had served Australian military and diplomatic missions.

So far, Australia has reserved 3,000 places within its existing humanitarian intake of 13,750 places for Afghan nationals fleeing conflict in that country.

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‘Utterly shameful’: Dominic Raab under pressure to go after Afghanistan delays

Labour and Lib Dems say Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer over foreign secretary’s role

Labour has questioned whether Dominic Raab should remain as foreign secretary, describing his behaviour as “utterly shameful” after it emerged he delegated a reportedly crucial call to an Afghan counterpart to a junior minister last week while he was on holiday.

After days of increasing pressure on Raab over both his department’s response to the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan and his decision to return from a beach holiday only on Sunday, Labour said he “should be ashamed” of his actions.

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Hong Kong reportedly lets Nicole Kidman skip Covid quarantine

Actor said to be given exemption to film Amazon TV series, as territory braces for tougher travel rules

As Hong Kong braces for more draconian Covid-19 travel restrictions to take effect from Friday, the Australian actor Nicole Kidman received an exemption from the government to skip quarantine, media reported.

The exemption was given to allow her to film an Amazon television series called The Expats, the news website HK01 reported, a move that contrasts sharply with the up to three weeks of mandated hotel quarantine residents must undergo after entering the Chinese-ruled territory.

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Malaysia: Ismail Sabri Yaakob could be next PM, restoring party to power after 1MDB scandal

Former deputy PM is likely to takeover from Muhyiddin Yassin, taking the UMNO party ousted amid the the 1MDB scandal back into office

Former Malaysian deputy prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob looked set to form the next government after gaining a parliamentary majority from the same coalition that collapsed earlier this week, media and lawmakers said on Thursday.

The choice of Yaakob as prime minister would essentially restore the ruling alliance of Muhyiddin Yassin, who resigned as the country’s leader on Monday after infighting in the coalition cost him majority support.

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Hong Kong protest pair swept up in national security crackdown plead guilty

Andy Li and Chan Tsz-wah were accused of conspiring with media mogul Jimmy Lai to call for sanctions on China and Hong Kong

The Hong Kong activist Andy Li and paralegal Chan Tsz-wah have pleaded guilty to foreign collusion, becoming the second and third convictions under the year-old national security law which has been used to crush government opposition in the city.

Li, 31, and Chan, 30, were accused of conspiring with media mogul Jimmy Lai and others between July 2020 and February this year, to lobby external forces to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and China. Lai is yet to face trial on the charge.

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Born to be wild: India’s first captive-bred endangered vultures are set free

Numbers of the country’s carrion-loving birds dropped by over 97% in the 1990s. Now, a successful breeding scheme is giving them a boost

In February, the doors of an aviary in West Bengal’s Buxa tiger reserve were flung open. Eight critically endangered captive-bred white-rumped vultures cautiously emerged and within minutes were mingling with wild vultures, devouring the meat of carcasses left out by a team of researchers from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

The birds were raised in a nearby breeding centre by BNHS, led by assistant director Sachin Ranade, as part of efforts to save India’s Gyps vultures. Gradually, some of the released vultures perched on trees with their wild cousins, while others returned to the wire-mesh aviary where they had spent the previous few months getting acclimatised to their surroundings.

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