Uncertainty in Afghanistan ahead of US withdrawal
Afghanistan remains in a heightened state of unrest this weekend after the Taliban completed its sweep of the country’s south Friday, just weeks before the U.S. is set to officially end its two-decade war. The State Department has warned all Americans to leave Afghanistan immediately and said the embassy had extremely limited ability to help. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has also directed its staff to destroy sensitive documents as well as other material that could be used as propaganda, according to reports. The U.S. military estimated that the capital could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days, and that the Taliban could overrun the rest of the country within a few months.
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Fred takes aim at Florida Keys as a second system forms
Tropical Depression Fred continued to dump heavy rain Friday over parts of Cuba as the “disorganized” storm system slogged toward an expected Saturday landfall in the Florida Keys. Meanwhile, another system in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression Seven, was forecast to become Tropical Storm Grace Saturday as it nears the Caribbean. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Florida Keys and Florida Bay as Fred approaches. A warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours. “There is a good chance for two landfalls in the U.S. with Fred … likely in the Florida Keys early Saturday and the second likely over northern Florida by early next week,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. As of 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Fred was about 90 miles south of Key West with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Biden made Obamacare cheaper, now a key sign-up deadline is here
With the Affordable Care Act undergoing a revival under President Joe Biden, the end of the day Sunday (local time) is the deadline for consumers to take advantage of a special sign-up period for private coverage made more affordable by his COVID-19 relief law, the American Rescue Plan. The government says more than 2.5 million people have signed up since Biden ordered the HealthCare.gov marketplace to reopen Feb. 15. Starting in April, sweeter subsidies in the relief law produced plans with lower premiums and deductibles, which attracted more enrollment. Interest has been high in a couple of states feeling the scourge of the delta variant as nearly 490,000 people have signed up in Florida, and more than 360,000 have done so in Texas. Biden has pledged to build on the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare, and it appears here to stay as the Supreme Court turned back a third major challenge to the law earlier this summer.
Bobby Bowden to be honored, remembered this weekend
This weekend, longtime Florida State Seminoles head football coach Bobby Bowden will be remembered in Tallahassee and around his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. On Saturday, a funeral for Bowden will be held at the Tucker Civic Center on Florida State’s campus at 11 a.m. ET and it will be open to the public. On Sunday, Bowden will Lie in Repose on the campus of Samford University where he played quarterback and later coached. A family-only burial service will follow in Trussville, Alabama. On Friday, a public viewing honoring Bowden took place at the Florida Capitol that was attended by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Later, Bowden lied in repose in the venue attached to the stadium with a field that bears his name. Bowden, who died last Sunday from pancreatic cancer at the age of 91, led the Seminoles from 1976-2009 and set an NCAA record with 14 consecutive finishes in the AP Top 5. He won two national titles (1993 and 1999).
NFL concludes its first full week of preseason action since 2019
The NFL’s preseason officially kicked off with last week’s Hall of Fame game, but a full slate of games with all 32 teams will unfold the rest of this weekend. The league’s preseason schedule has been shortened to three weeks, instead of the usual four, as an adjustment to the league’s new 17-game regular season. A league-wide bye was instituted as a replacement for the preseason’s fourth and final week. Every team will be busy this preseason answering (at least) one key question. For the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are returning their starting lineup in tact, can they cruise into September? For the Kansas City Chiefs, who fell to the Bucs in Super Bowl 55, what about the trenches? They rebuilt their offensive line, but what about the defensive line? And for the New England Patriots, who began their preseason schedule Thursday, who’s the quarterback going to be?
Contributing: The Associated Press