FirstFT: Deaths reported as Taliban faces dissent


World updates

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The Taliban was facing growing signs of dissent in several cities as Afghans carried the national flag in a second day of protests, sparking a crackdown that resulted in reports of at least two deaths.

Protesters marched in Kabul and other cities yesterday to celebrate Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which commemorates the 1919 war that ended British control of the country.

At least two people were killed in the eastern city of Asadabad when the Taliban fired on the crowd and a Taliban fighter was stabbed, according to Al Jazeera. Reuters reported that it was not clear if the deaths were caused by shooting or a stampede.

From the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan’s deposed president Ashraf Ghani defended his decision to leave the country, saying his life was in imminent danger. He added that he was in talks to return.

In the UK, Boris Johnson is under pressure to sack Dominic Raab over claims the foreign secretary delegated urgent calls on the unfolding crisis while on holiday. Washington’s decision to withdraw troops has exposed faultlines in the UK-US special relationship. Follow the latest on

More on Afghanistan:

  • Graveyard of empires: A history of failed foreign occupations of Afghanistan.

  • The Taliban now faces the challenge of paying government salaries and keeping the state running.

  • Is the 2015 refugee crisis that engulfed Europe and poisoned its politics for years about to repeat itself?

“I am inclined to believe that there is and was ‘No good time to withdraw’. The two decades of denial of fuelling corruption and the false allegiance it fostered did not help.” — Chris Sandford, FirstFT Europe/Africa reader

Thank you for your questions and comments on the Taliban’s rise to power. As always, you can share your thoughts on our coverage at — Jennifer

Five more stories in the news

1. US renews ‘buy or bury’ charges against Facebook The Federal Trade Commission has refiled its antitrust complaint against Facebook, accusing the social media group of maintaining monopoly power and using a “buy or bury” strategy to neutralise competitors.

  • Going virtual: This week, Facebook launched Horizon Workrooms, its vision of virtual reality workspaces.

2. CD&R raises Morrisons bid Private equity group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice has increased its offer for Wm Morrison to 285p per share, a substantial boost from the previous 230p approach that was rejected, in the latest round of a protracted bidding war for the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket group.

3. Coinbase goes to Japan The US cryptocurrency exchange has struck a deal with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, betting the Japanese bank will help it secure a foothold in a global centre for digital asset trading. But efforts to underline crypto trading’s security faltered hours later when Japanese exchange Liquid confirmed it had been hacked.

4. UK business calls for retrofits to hit home emissions target Leaders from the energy, construction, financial services and housing industries are pressing the government to “urgently” develop a strategy to deal with inefficient, leaky homes or “risk missing” its 2050 net-zero emissions target.

5. OnlyFans to ban sexually explicit content Regulatory concerns prompted the decision to ban explicit content, according to the social media platform. The move will come as a shock to adult performers, many of whom flocked to the app during the pandemic as traditional pornography production was stymied by lockdowns.

Coronavirus digest

  • US stock investors are coming around to the view that the Delta variant will dampen the global economic recovery, threatening a record-breaking rally.

  • Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau is hoping to reap electoral benefits from pandemic stimulus policies before the economic bill comes due.

  • Carmakers Toyota and Ford announced disruptions to their assembly lines from outbreaks in south-east Asia. Alphaville has more on the chip shortage that weeks ago seemed on the verge of easing.

Tim Harford asks: will all these Covid certificates join passports and income tax as emergency measures that lasted?

Tim Harford: ‘Sars-Cov-2 is in no imminent danger of being eradicated, after all, and red tape can be sticky’
Tim Harford: ‘Sars-Cov-2 is in no imminent danger of being eradicated, after all, and red tape can be sticky’ © Anna Wray

The day ahead

Merkel-Putin meeting The German chancellor is set to meet Russia’s president in Moscow today. The leaders are expected to discuss the turmoil in Afghanistan and the situation in eastern Ukraine. They may also address US officials in Berlin who have been struck by “Havana syndrome” symptoms.

Join us today at 4pm BST on Twitter Spaces to delve deeper into the failings of Afghanistan’s banking system and its attempted transition into a digital payment-based economy.

What else we’re reading

Wall Street has reason to worry about homeworking Big US bankers like to play it cool in public. But executives have more reasons to worry than they let on: working at home with trillions of dollars of other people’s money is a risky experiment, writes Gary Silverman.

Gary Silverman: ‘Legal and regulatory hazards mean bank bosses are itching to get a better view of the action’
Gary Silverman: ‘Legal and regulatory hazards mean bank bosses are itching to get a better view of the action’ © Efi Chalikopoulou

Investing in the menopause Growing awareness of women’s health issues could lead some companies to higher returns. The global femtech sector, specialising in products and services designed to meet women’s often-neglected healthcare needs, is expected to boom to $60bn by 2027 from $19bn in 2019. 

Kim Stanley Robinson’s climate plan What does it feel like to live on the brink of a vast historical change? It feels like now. Humanity stands on the brink of disaster. But with creative thinking and collective will, we may still have time to avert catastrophe.

HMRC digs into your data You may not know it, but HM Revenue & Customs could be crunching your data right now. The growing power of digital communications and computing and new regulatory powers enable the UK tax authority to trawl deeper for mind-boggling amounts of financial information.

How I topped Duolingo’s Danish charts A lockdown habit led Isabel Berwick to become ranked in the top 2 per cent of the language learning app’s 40m active global users. Here’s what she learned jumping into a language with which she has no family, work or romantic connection.

Food & Drink

Transport your taste buds Here are six cookbooks to whet the appetite for the flavours of far-flung shores, from the Mediterranean to the saltwater marshes of America’s coastal south.

© Gentl & Hyers | Colombiana, by Mariana Velásquez

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