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President Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he doesn't believe the Taliban have changed substantially since they were last in power, but that they are facing an "existential crisis" about whether they want to be recognized on the international stage.

Driving the news: The Taliban have pledged to be more inclusive since their days of totalitarian rule in the 1990s, vowing to not retaliate against opponents and honor women's rights within the "frameworks" of Islamic law. But scenes from Kabul and areas they previously controlled suggest the militants will continue to govern with a heavy hand.

The big picture: Biden said he's not sure the Taliban care about being recognized as a legitimate government, and are more concerned with their food supply, income, and whether they can "hold together" Afghan society.

  • Biden added that the U.S. should try to evacuate as many Afghan women as it can but contested the idea that the U.S. can uphold women's rights with military force as "not rational."
  • "There are a lot of places where women are being subjugated. The way to deal with it is not a military invasion, the way to deal with that is putting economic, diplomatic and international pressure on them to change their behavior," the president said.

Go deeper

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Pakistan Airlines halts flights to Kabul citing "heavy-handedness" of Taliban

Passengers board a Pakistan International Airlines flight in Kabul on Sept 13. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday halted flights to Kabul after what it called "heavy-handedness" of Taliban authorities, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The suspension comes after the Taliban ordered PIA to slash ticket prices, warning that the company's Afghan operations could be blocked if it refused to do so, per Reuters.

U.S. elected to rejoin UN Human Rights Council after exit under Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has been elected to rejoin on the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department announced Thursday, three years after former President Trump walked out on the panel citing bias against Israel.

Flashback: The Biden administration announced in February it planned to rejoin the council, acknowledging what it called an "unacceptable bias against Israel," but arguing that being a member would help the U.S. advance its own interests.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.