The first-ever peace talks between the Taliban & Afghan government.
The fourth Arab nation to recognize Israel’s legitimacy.
How to experience holiday cheer from the safety of your home.
Plus, TikTok U.S. officially has a buyer. Let’s get to it. 🗞
“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”
This Week at a Glance
Monday: Fifty days until the U.S. election
Tuesday: Israel & UAE to sign landmark deal normalizing relations at the White House; Apple’s “Time Flies” fall hardware event
Wednesday: Fed Chair Jerome Powell to hold press conference after two-day meeting
Thursday: The U.S. Open golf tournament begins
Friday: Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown
Afghanistan & Taliban Begin Peace Talks
Representatives from the Afghanistan government and the Taliban convened in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday to begin their first direct talks to end nearly two decades of fighting (brokered by the US).
A deeper dive… The war in Afghanistan began with the U.S.-led invasion in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks orchestrated by al Qaeda from within the Taliban-led country. For nearly 20 years, the Taliban has denounced the U.S.-installed Kabul government, repeatedly stating its goal of an Islamic theocracy.
In February, the U.S. and Taliban signed a conditional peace agreement (which the Afghan government was not a party to) that involved a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops and a 5:1 Taliban-for-Afghan prisoner swap in order to start peace negotiations between the warring Afghan factions.
On Thursday, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie said the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to 4,500 by November (from 8,400), and that the troop drawdown would continue as long as it didn’t compromise U.S. security.
What’s Next? Officials say the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks are expected to be a long and contentious affair. The Afghan government will reportedly prioritize an immediate ceasefire, while the Taliban is likely to focus on finalizing a power-sharing agreement.
In short remarks from Qatar on Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that while the U.S. had found democracy to work best, Washington would not seek to impose any political system on Afghanistan.
So… what are people saying?
Peace talks with the Taliban take place against the backdrop of modernization in Afghanistan
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Belarus Protests Enter Sixth Week
More than 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday, as ongoing protests against the government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko entered their sixth consecutive week. Lukashenko is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday for the first time since the protests began.
In a phone call between President Trump, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa on Friday, the two Middle Eastern countries agreed to establish full diplomatic relations. Following a signing ceremony on Tuesday, Bahrain will become the fourth Arab country to acknowledge Israel’s legitimacy.
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens have been injected with an experimental Coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Biotech, the company said on Saturday.
AstraZenecaresumed testing its vaccine candidate in the UK on Saturday. Its international Phase 3 trial was placed on hold due to a UK participant developing a neurological illness. Trials have not yet resumed in the U.S.
Worth Noting: Two LAPD deputies were shot in Los Angeles on Sunday while sitting in their squad car. Both underwent surgery Saturday night and were in critical condition as of Sunday afternoon. (President Trump’s response & Joe Biden’s response)
Also Worth Noting: President Trump on Sunday signed an executive order aimed at lowering Medicare’s pharmaceutical drug prices to the same levels offered in other countries.
🔥Update: Wildfires across the U.S. (mainly CA, WA, & OR) have left 33 dead and more than 6M acres burned as of Sunday night.
The Chosen One
ByteDance reached an agreement late Sunday to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to software giant Oracle, per multiple sources (WSJ, NBC, AP). Microsoft had been considered the frontrunner to acquire the social media app’s U.S. business, but confirmed earlier Sunday that ByteDance had passed on its proposal.
Up In Arms
SoftBank is reportedly nearing a deal to sell UK chip manufacturer Arms Holdings to Nvidia in a cash-and-stock deal worth more than $40B. The deal would represent a profit for SoftBank, which purchased Arms four years ago for $32B. Sources familiar with the deal said it could be announced as soon as early next week.
Nikola Report Shocks EV Industry
Shares of EV-startup Nikola fell 14% on Friday in response to a report published on Thursday by short-selling research firm Hindenburg. The report accuses the ~$12B company – and CEO Trevor Milton – of wide scale fraudulent behavior, detailing dozens of false claims and statements made by Milton. Hindenburg says they “have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size.”
🤝 Let’s Make A Deal… Gilead Sciences will acquire biotech company Immunomedics for $21B in a deal anticipated to close in Q4 2020.
📱 Rule Of Thumb… Apple issued new App Store rules on Friday, including an explicit ruling on gaming services such as Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud.
🎾Open And Shut… Japanese star Naomi Osaka took home the Women’s U.S. Open title on Saturday. | Austrian Dominic Thiem won the Men’s U.S. Open on Sunday.
Sea You Later
A four-year-old girl was floating on an inflatable unicorn raft at the beach in the coastal town of Antirrio, Greece, last month when her parents briefly lost track of her. During their brief lapse of attention, a strong current grabbed ahold of the toddler’s raft, pulling her quickly out to sea. Within minutes, the unaccompanied youngster was floating more than a mile away from shore.
Fortunately, a local ferry passing through the area was alerted to the missing child by the local port authority. Captain Grigoris Karnesis hurried his ship to catch up to the raft, carefully rescuing the young girl. Once safely aboard the ferry, the frightened little one was cheered up by passengers who cracked jokes and applauded her bravery as she was returned to her parents.
Last month, when a catastrophic blast devastated the port of Beirut, Lebanon, 190 of the city’s residents were killed, and thousands more were injured. The city’s human inhabitants were not the only ones impacted as the region reeled from the tragedy – hundreds of beloved pets were injured or separated from their owners during the aftermath of the blast as people fled decimated neighborhoods.
Over the past month, volunteers from the nonprofit Animals Lebanon have found and reunited more than 100 lost pets with their families, spreading hope in a city desperately in need of healing. In a video that went viral on Instagram, the nonprofit returned a precious pet to a worried cat mom in a tearful reunion.
Hold Your Horses
On August 13th, 13-year-old Cameron Martin of Burgh Castle, England, was checking on his pony at an equestrian farm when he noticed that one of the facility’s horses was missing from his usual grazing spot. Cameron quickly found the absent animal – who suffers from a long-term leg injury – trapped in a nearby canal, desperately thrashing about to keep from drowning.
Without hesitation, Cameron leaped into the icy water of the canal, where he proceeded to hold the horse’s head above the surface of the water for an entire hour. Finally, recognizing Cameron’s calls for help, the facility’s owners rushed to the teenager’s aid, bringing a crane to lift the stuck stallion to safety. That night, the exhausted Cameron slept for a well-deserved 24 hours.
The Hash Brown Game Is Changing…
Looking for a way to refresh your breakfast while eating more veggies? Look no further than Green Giant® Veggie Hash Browns! Available in cauliflower and cauliflower & broccoli, these delicious Veggie Hash Browns are the perfect way to start your day with some veggies!
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🎅 Introducing: Socially Distanced Santa… some enterprising Santas are set to ensure young’uns still experience the joy of ol’ Saint Nick this socially-distanced season. Put your name on the ‘Nice’ list.
📹 The Viral Spiral… a graphic video of a man dying by suicide on Facebook Live has since spread to TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, despite the tech giants’ best efforts to stop its spread. Inside the content moderation fight.
🌆 Something In The Air… the West Coast is currently suffering through some of the worst air quality in the world, according to data aggregated by air quality sensor companies. See the full map.
The Timeliest Place On Earth
How many unscheduled closures has Disneyland had in its 65+ years of operation?
A) Six B) Eight C) Four D) Two
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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In 1963, following the assassination of JFK – In 1970, due to an anti-Vietnam War riot. – In 1987, (Dec. 16) due to a winter storm. – In 1994, for inspection following the Northridge earthquake. – In 2001, following the Sept. 11 attacks. – In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (currently still closed).