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Why it matters: China is becoming the most formidable rival America has faced, and the risk of confrontation with Russia, North Korea or Iran still looms. Authoritarians are rising, the chaotic Afghanistan exit revealed the limits of U.S. power, and the pandemic, climate change and other critical challenges continue to pose grave threats.

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House approves $1 billion in funding for Israel's Iron Dome defense system

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip on May 18. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

The House voted Thursday to approve $1 billion in funding to Israel's Iron Dome defense system via a stand-alone bill, days after the provision was removed from a short-term government funding bill because of backlash from progressive lawmakers.

State of play: Several progressive members had threatened to vote against the short-term funding bill, which also includes language to raise the debt ceiling. The clash surrounding the measure underscored the deep divisions in the Democratic Party over Israel.

51 mins ago - World

Taliban: Executions and strict punishments will return

Taliban fighters in Kabul. Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Strict punishments such as hand amputations and executions will return in Afghanistan, one of the Taliban's founders said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Why it matters: Despite attempting to project a new image, the Taliban remain committed to a hard-line, conservative ideology, including harsh ruling tactics.

3 hours ago - World

Heritage imprint: How Argentina revolutionized forensics

A police car parked outside San Martin Park in Mendoza, Argentina. Photo: Alexis Lloret/Getty Images

Argentina gave the world an important tool to solve crimes: A system that would allow investigators to use fingerprints to crack a case.

Why it matters: Argentine police official Juan Vucetich, expanding on British research, created the first fingerprint identification system in 1892, and in doing so introduced the role of biometric data in crime-solving. More than a hundred years later, fingerprints remain a powerful addition to the forensic toolbox.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up — Team USA to mandate vaccine for Winter Olympic hopefuls — U.S. to buy 500 million more Pfizer doses to share with the world.
  2. Health: Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban — D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Some unknowns killed in Latin American conflicts identified

Over 600 crosses rise over Darwin Cemetery, in the Malvinas or Falkland Islands. Most belong to unidentified soldiers. Photo: Martín Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images

Latin Americans lying beneath unmarked tombstones and in mass graves across the region are recovering their names, decades after the conflicts that took their lives.

Driving the news: Last week six Argentine soldiers who died during the 1982 Falklands War were ID'd through forensic anthropology and genetic testing, as part of an international project supported by the Red Cross.

Germany ending quarantine subsidies for unvaccinated workers

Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images

German health authorities announced Wednesday that the country's state governments would no longer help companies pay for the salaries of unvaccinated workers who have to quarantine, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The announcement comes after a national drive failed to produce a significant increase in vaccinations. About 63% of Germany's population is fully vaccinated, according to data from John Hopkins University.

5 hours ago - World

French submarine builder to bill Australia for sunk contract

A French Barracuda class nuclear attack submarine docked in Toulon's harbor in November 2020. Photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP via Getty Images

French defense contractor Naval Group said Wednesday it will bill the Australian government for torpedoing a multi-billion dollar contract to purchase submarines in favor of nuclear-powered ones from the United States, according to AFP.

Why it matters: Australia's new deal with the U.S. and its scrapped deal with France have set off a diplomatic crisis between the Western allies, causing France to recall its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia last week.

Pence says he hopes Supreme Court will overturn abortion rights

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaking in Budapest on Sept. 23. Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he's hopeful the majority-conservative Supreme Court secured during the Trump administration will overturn abortion rights in the United States, according to AP.

Why it matters: Pence made the comments at a biennial forum held in Budapest by conservative leaders concerned about changes in demographics, family values, fertility rates and illegal immigration into Western countries.

EU moves to require single charging method for all phones

Photo: Kenzio Triboullard/AFP via Getty Images

The European Commission proposed legislation Wednesday that would require mobile phone manufacturers to adopt a single charging method in an effort to boost convenience for consumers and cut down on electronic waste.

Why it matters: If the European Parliament passes the legislation, USB-C will become the standard charging port used in all newly produced smartphones, tablets and other chargeable consumer electronics sold in the European Union.

7 hours ago - World

Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive for COVID at UN summit

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Timothy A. Clary-Pool/Getty Images

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and members of his delegation that were in New York for the UN General Assembly were put in isolation after the country's health minister tested positive for coronavirus, according to the state health regulator.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro, who tested positive for COVID-19 back in July and has regularly railed against pandemic measures, has not been vaccinated against the virus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
8 hours ago - World

Airbnb co-founders double Afghan refugee program to 40,000

Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August 2021. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday that they're offering temporary housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees worldwide, doubling a previous commitment.

The big picture: The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and Airbnb.org provide subsidies to hosts. Hosts and donors also help pay.

13 hours ago - World

WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover

A family member stands beside a COVID-19 patient at the Muhammed Ali Jinnah hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, in June. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Afghanistan's health system is "on the brink of collapse" due to international funding cuts since the Taliban took over the country, World Health Organization officials said Wednesday.

The big picture: Nine of Afghanistan's 37 COVID-19 hospitals have closed and "all aspects" of the country's pandemic response have declined, including testing and vaccination, per a statement from WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus following his visit to the capital, Kabul, where he met with Taliban leaders.

18 hours ago - World

Biden heading back to Europe this fall

Marine One passes Windsor Castle as President Biden visited Queen Elizabeth II in June. Photo: Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images

President Biden plans to attend the G20 summit in Rome late next month before heading to the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Biden's European travels come at the time of some political strain. They'll also include his first Group of 20 summit with world leaders as president, with a host of thorny issues ranging from countering China's rise to coordinating a global response to COVID-19.

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