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Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces stand guard on a hilltop in the Astana area of Bazarak in the Panjshir province on Aug. 27. Photo: Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban said Monday it had "conquered" Afghanistan's Panjshir province, Afghanistan's last holdout of resistance against the country's new rule — a claim opposition fighters dispute.

Driving the news: There's been heavy fighting in the valley, north of Kabul, between the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan and Taliban fighters since U.S. forces left the country last Monday. The NRFA called for a ceasefire Sunday, per AFP.

  • The group told the news agency that if "the Taliban stop its military operations in Panjshir" and withdraws its forces, the NRFA "will direct our forces to refrain from military action."

Yes, but: NRFA leader Ahmad Massoud said in a statement Monday the Taliban's "claim of occupying Panjshir is false" and that "NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight."

The big picture: The Taliban swept to power in the rest of Afghanistan last month, after former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

  • People in the region resisted the Taliban in the 1990s and Russian fighters in the 1980s.
  • Massoud is the son of Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed in 2001.

What to watch: Massoud said in a statement Sunday that the NRF had "in principle agree to solve the current problems and put an immediate end to the fighting" and negotiate with the Taliban.

  • "To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab," in the southern part of Baghlan province, he said.

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

Halloween 2021 will be pricier than ever

Expand chart
Re-created from Well Kept Wallet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans will spend more than $10 billion on Halloween this year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Why it matters: Halloween continues to become a mainstream adult holiday, with 55% of households without kids saying they plan to celebrate, per the NRF.

By the numbers: While costumes tend to be where people shell out the most, 10% of people will spend more than $100 on candy alone this year, according to a poll by the Well Kept Wallet.

  • "On average, consumers plan to spend $102.74 on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards — $10 more than they planned to spend last year," the NRF said.
  • The record $10.14 billion spent on Halloween this year is up from $8.05 billion last year, "when the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention suggested most avoid trick-or-treating," as USA Today notes.

Even so, 58% of Americans participated in Halloween last year (even if just to hand out candy), and 65% percent plan to do so this year — which is comparable to the pre-pandemic figure of 68% in 2019, per the NRF.

  • While 82% of households will celebrate, a whopping 55% of those without children will too.
Felix Salmon, author of Capital
30 mins ago - Economy & Business

Why it's so hard to tax wealth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The wealth tax that wasn't a wealth tax isn't even a tax, now. The Democrats had a meticulously constructed 107-page proposal to pay for a large chunk of their spending plans with a tax on billionaires, but it died ignobly on Wednesday, the same day it was unveiled.

Why it matters: The dream of a wealth tax will never die as it so neatly generates revenue by reducing inequality. But there are three main reasons why that dream is likely to remain just a dream for the foreseeable future.