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Mary Louise Kelly

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Updated August 16, 2021 at 7:30 PM ET

Kabul fell on Sunday, reestablishing Taliban rule over Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years. Leaders of the militant group who've spent years fighting are suddenly in control of the whole country, with their internal divisions and actions affecting the lives of millions of Afghans.

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Today in Paris, the Champs-Elysees was a party.

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At the height of his career, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was one of the most influential leaders of the Catholic Church in the U.S., heading the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Last week, he became the first U.S. Cardinal to be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, making the 91-year-old the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in the country to face criminal charges for clergy sexual abuse.

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Just how bad is the situation in Afghanistan? Today the UN special envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, said the war has entered a new and deadlier phase.

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Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is batting away criticism that her bipartisan approach to legislating is bad for her party.

To Sinema, a moderate, bipartisanship is the way Washington should work.

"We know that the American people are asking for us to take action," she told NPR's All Things Considered. "What they don't want to see is us sit on our hands, waiting until we get every single thing that we want. ... That all-or-nothing approach usually leaves you with nothing."

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We're going to take some time now to remember a tragic weekend two years ago, 2019. And a warning - this story may be disturbing to some listeners. First, came Saturday, August 3.

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In Scotland today, newspaper headlines shouted freedom. But read the small print. Another read, don't cry freedom. The headlines are a poke at Scotland's neighbor to the south. England declared so-called Freedom Day and lifted almost all COVID restrictions a few weeks ago. Scotland has charted a more cautious course. Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says most COVID restrictions will be relaxed next Monday.

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Remember that phone call? July 25, 2019, the president of Ukraine speaking with the then-president of the United States.

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DONALD TRUMP: It was beautiful. It was just a perfect conversation.

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The U.S. military is leaving Afghanistan. The withdrawal will finish next month. Not all Americans are leaving, though. Diplomats will stay, and so will American spies. The CIA is there trying to gather intelligence on a country where the security situation is getting worse.

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WILLIAM BURNS: The trend lines that all of us see today are certainly troubling. The Taliban are making significant military advances. They're probably in the strongest military position that they've been in since 2001.

Updated July 27, 2021 at 4:10 PM ET

When you think of Australia, it's hard to not immediately think of its eclectic animals. You know the ones: jacked kangaroos, tarantulas, the inland taipan. But one bird that deserves more attention is the cockatoo.

"They're quite raucous...They're flamboyant. There's nothing quiet about them," Richard Major, a bird ecologist, says. "They're really in your face and they're just full of life and mischief."

CIA Director William Burns says he has redoubled the agency's efforts to uncover the cause of Havana syndrome — the mysterious set of ailments that has afflicted more than 200 U.S. officials and family members around the world.

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A new novel set in late summer on Cape Cod is all about desire. Even the writing seems to drip with secrets and longing. Here's the author, Miranda Cowley Heller, reading from the first few pages.

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A lot of us made it through the worst of COVID isolation by spending time with a guy named Ted Lasso.

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