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A protest in Kabul over the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Photo: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

"C.I.A.'s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger," writes Mujib Mashal, the New York Times' senior correspondent in Afghanistan.

Details: "The fighters hold the line in the war's toughest spots, but officials say their brutal tactics are terrorizing the public and undermining the U.S. mission."

  • "[T]he units have ... operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity."

The big picture: "Those abuses are actively pushing people toward the Taliban."

  • "And with only a relatively small American troop contingent left ... the strike forces are increasingly the way that a large number of rural Afghans experience the American presence."

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Nursing homes are still getting pummeledU.S. could hit herd immunity by end of summer 2021 if Americans embrace virus vaccines, Fauci says.
  2. Politics: Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework.
  3. World: U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for mass rollout — Putin says Russia will begin large-scale vaccination next week.
  4. Business: Investors are finally starting to take their money out of safe-haven Treasuries.
  5. Sports: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight.

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