Taliban leaders during peace talks with the U.S. in July in Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. and the Taliban reopened peace talks in Qatar on Saturday, nearly three months after President Trump abruptly called diplomatic negotiations off, Al Jazeera reports.

Why it matters: These renewed efforts are key to paving the way for direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul to end a more than 18-year war, AP notes. The first goal for the U.S. is to encourage the Taliban to reduce violence, and ultimately agree to a permanent cease fire. The group has carried out numerous deadly attacks since talks fell apart earlier this year.

The state of play:

  • Taliban leaders have refused to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani so far, calling him a "puppet of the U.S.," AP writes.
  • Afghanistan is facing an election standoff between Ghani and Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah over allegations of corruption and misconduct in the Sept. 28 elections. The government is currently at a standstill as the two leaders try to share power, but continue to bicker, per Al Jazeera.

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Scoop: Lawmakers tee up hearing with academics ahead of antitrust report

Big Tech CEOs testify before the House Judiciary antitrust panel in June. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.

Mostly academics will be testifying at Thursday's House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing, which will reveal where its year-long investigation into big tech and competition is going, a source familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: The hearing is the next step following testimony from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Apple's Tim Cook before the committee in July. A showing of academics and think-tank types signals the lawmakers are still sorting out competition theories and possible legislative fixes to perceived antitrust abuses.

Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 33,454,037 — Total deaths: 1,003,571 — Total recoveries: 23,204,219Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 7,165,067 — Total deaths: 205,476 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.