Scott Neuman

Updated August 15, 2021 at 5:51 PM ET

Twenty years after being removed from power in a U.S.-led invasion, Taliban militiamen swept to into Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on Sunday, facing little resistance from Afghan government forces.

Within hours, Afghanistan's Washington-backed president had left the country and the flag at the U.S. Embassy had been lowered amid a hasty evacuation of diplomatic personnel.

Updated August 15, 2021 at 12:39 PM ET

Helicopters evacuating Americans from Kabul as the Taliban closed in was a scene being likened to the 1975 fall of Saigon in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

The first live Asian giant "murder hornet" of 2021 has been spotted in Washington state — and it was caught in the act of living up to its name, attacking a wasp nest.

Tropical Depression Fred, currently off the coast of Cuba, is forecast to slowly regain tropical storm status before bringing strong winds and potentially heavy rainfall to Florida this weekend.

Fred is expected to move through the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday, pass over central Cuba on Friday and make landfall as a tropical storm in the vicinity of the Florida Keys by Saturday. Another landfall is likely in Florida's Big Bend region, south of Tallahassee, or the Panhandle over the weekend or early next week, forecasters say.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, says an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose is needed for people who have compromised immune systems.

China doesn't want patrons at tens of thousands of karaoke venues across the country to belt out subversive lyrics — and they are cracking down to make sure that it stops.

The country's Ministry of Culture and Tourism says it will create a blacklist of songs containing "illegal content" at karaoke establishments starting Oct. 1, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

West Virginia Wesleyan College won't require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when they arrive for classes this month — but the small Christian liberal arts school says it will charge a hefty $750 fee for anyone who hasn't received at least a first shot.

The private college, which has about 1,500 students, says that about 90% of faculty and staff and "a large percentage of students" have already been vaccinated.

Arkansas, among the states hardest-hit by a new wave of coronavirus cases linked to the highly contagious delta variant, says it is down to eight unoccupied ICU beds statewide with which to care for COVID-19 patients.

Gov. Asa Hutchison, in a tweet on Monday, said the latest report highlighted "startling numbers."

It seems there's no way to escape advertising these days — and at first blush, news that a Canadian company has contracted SpaceX to put a billboard into low-Earth orbit would appear to end any debate to the contrary.

Speedskater-turned-baseball infielder Eddie Alvarez is about to do what only two other Americans have ever accomplished — win medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

At the Sochi Winter Games in 2014, the Cuban-American athlete won silver as part of the U.S. 5,000-meter relay team. Following Thursday's U.S. 7-2 victory in baseball over defending Olympic champions South Korea, he'll medal again when the U.S. faces Japan on Saturday. The only question is whether his new medal will be silver or gold.

Two coaches from the Belarus team have been dismissed by the International Olympic Committee four days after they ordered sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya back home for publicly criticizing them.

The IOC revoked credentials for Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich. They "were requested to leave the Olympic Village immediately and have done so," the IOC said.

United Airlines has told its 67,000 U.S.-based employees that they will need to be inoculated against COVID-19 by late October to stay on the job.

Citing "incredibly compelling" evidence that the vaccines are safe and effective, United CEO Scott Kirby announced the policy change on Friday. He said he understood that some employees would disagree with the mandate, according to The Associated Press.

The White House is granting Hong Kong residents who are in the U.S. temporary "safe haven," letting them remain and work in the country for at least 18 months without fear of deportation.

The move, announced Thursday, comes in response to China's imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong that severely curbs free speech and the right to protest guaranteed by the agreement that handed back the city to Beijing in 1997 after a century of British rule.

The Food and Drug Administration's full approval of the coronavirus vaccines would go a long way toward convincing the vaccine hesitant to get the shot, says Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University.

Updated August 16, 2021 at 9:29 AM ET

With the Taliban now back in full control of Afghanistan two decades after being ousted in a U.S.-led invasion, experts are fearful for the country's future.

In recent weeks, the insurgents seem to have followed much the same script as they did in 1996: a methodical push to capture the countryside, followed by a final blitz on the capital.

In a dramatic move reminiscent of the first days of the coronavirus in China some 19 months ago, flights and trains in and out of Wuhan have been halted amid a rise in COVID-19 cases linked to the highly infectious delta variant of the virus.

Authorities have also ordered mass testing in the city of 11 million, where the virus was first detected before it spread around the world. Panic-buying by worried residents followed new lockdowns there.

More than a year and a half after the coronavirus was first detected in China — followed by the world's first big wave of COVID-19 — the country is again battling to stem the spread of new cases attributed to the more infectious delta variant of the virus.

Australian soldiers are joining local police in New South Wales to enforce a coronavirus lockdown in and around Sydney as authorities try to tamp down the latest outbreak of cases linked to the more infectious delta variant.

All guests two years and older at Disney theme parks in the U.S. will once again be required to don face masks along with their optional mouse ears while indoors — a precaution against the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Now might be the time to wipe the dust off that pair of binoculars and extract the family telescope from the back of the closet: Saturn is about to put on its best and brightest show, looking spiffier than at any time during the year – a performance that will be followed a few weeks later by Jupiter.

The timing couldn't be worse: with Tokyo the focus of world attention after the start of the long-delayed Olympic Games, health officials in the Japanese capital report a never-before-seen daily count in coronavirus infections.

Anyone who's seen the 1983 film The Right Stuff might remember the scene where astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom (played by actor Fred Ward) nearly drowns after splashdown when the hatch on his Mercury capsule unexpectedly blows, flooding the spacecraft with seawater.

Updated July 21, 2021 at 1:12 PM ET

Shark Week may never be the same again: Two Australian states — Queensland and New South Wales — have softened their tone when it comes to the language of reporting shark attacks, opting for a little more nuance.

From now on, sharks will "bite," not "attack," and when humans have a less-than-ideal meeting with them, it will be referred to as an "encounter" or an "incident."

Nearly two weeks after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the man he chose to become the country's next prime minister, Ariel Henry, is set to assume office. But any fanfare will likely be dampened by the monumental political and social problems facing the impoverished nation and its new leader.

Updated July 20, 2021 at 9:20 AM ET

Jeff Bezos has become the second billionaire this month to reach the edge of space, and he did so aboard a rocket built by a company he launched.

The White House is publicly blaming China for an attack on Microsoft's Exchange email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers worldwide, allowing hackers to gain access to troves of sensitive data.

Separately, the Department of Justice announced Monday that a federal grand jury in May had indicted Chinese nationals accused of working with official sanction from Beijing to break into computer systems belonging to U.S. companies, universities and governments.

Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Danish Siddiqui, who worked for the Reuters news agency based out of India, was killed Friday while on assignment in southern Afghanistan after coming under fire by Taliban militiamen.

Siddiqui, who was 38 years old, had been embedded with Afghan special forces in southern Kandahar province when he was killed along with a senior Afghan officer, Reuters reports.

The worst flooding in decades to affect Germany and parts of Belgium has killed at least 120 people as search and rescue efforts for hundreds of missing continue, officials said.

Late Thursday, authorities said about 1,300 people were still unaccounted for in Germany but cautioned that disrupted roads and telephone service could account for the high figure.

Meanwhile, German officials were quick to say that a warming climate is at least partially to blame for the catastrophic flooding.

The recent ransomware attacks on the U.S. gas and meat industries have sparked renewed conversations about the possibility of an international cyber agreement that would set the ground rules for what is and isn't permissible, and spell out sanctions for violators.

As record highs are being broken throughout the Pacific Northwest, the lack of air conditioning in many homes in such cities as Portland and Seattle could make an already brutal heat wave even more dangerous.

The temperature in Portland spiked on Sunday to 112 degrees Fahrenheit, easily smashing the previous record of 108 from just the day before. The high in the city this time of year averages in the 70s.

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