Your Friday Briefing

We’re covering Biden’s new, tougher stance on vaccines and flights resuming from Kabul.

President Biden on Thursday used the full force of his presidency to get two-thirds of the American work force vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Private sector businesses that have 100 or more employees will have to require vaccination, or mandatory weekly testing, for their workers after Biden instructs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to draft a rule.

The administration also intends to compel vaccination for federal workers, contractors, and 17 million health care workers in hospitals and other institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. Most federal workers will face disciplinary action or dismissal if they refuse.

“We can and we will turn the tide on Covid-19,” Biden said at the White House.

The Delta variant’s spread has killed roughly 1,500 Americans a day in September. Biden initially steered away from any talk of making vaccines mandatory, but the surge has made him decide on the more aggressive new plan.

Missing link: About 27 percent of eligible people in the U.S. age 12 and older have not received any Covid vaccinations, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


The first passenger flight since the frenzied U.S. military evacuation left Afghanistan on Thursday, carrying more than 100 foreigners.

“I can clearly say that this is a historic day in the history of Afghanistan as Kabul Airport is now operational,” a Qatari official said on Thursday. The flight, with scores of Canadians and a handful of U.S. and British citizens, was going through Qatar.

The Taliban’s spokesman thanked Qatar for its assistance in getting the airport running and flying in 50 tons of aid. He said it was an “opportunity to call on all Muslim and international countries to lend a helping hand to the Afghan people and start delivering humanitarian aid.”

There was no indication that the Taliban would allow the tens of thousands of Afghans who qualify for special U.S. visas to leave. They said that Afghans with dual citizenship would be allowed to leave.

Related: China pledged to give $30 million in food and other aid, as well as three million Covid vaccine doses.


Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, attended a national military parade on Thursday, but skipped the opportunity to raise tensions with the U.S. through a fiery speech or display of long-range ballistic missiles.

The middle-of-the-night parade in Pyongyang, in celebration of the government’s 73rd anniversary, included military reservists, police officers, and factory and health workers. Kim appeared in a western-style tan suit, draped on his visibly thinner frame. It was a departure from parades in October and January, which showcased new missiles.

Bigger picture: The parade was aimed at North Koreans who have borne the brunt of his efforts to rebuild the economy. Kim has repeatedly apologized for economic woes caused by sanctions and the pandemic.

Quotable: “North Korean society is under tremendous stress because of decisions made by the Kim regime. So the parade is intended to show strength and serve as a quarantine morale booster​,” said one international studies expert in Seoul​.

News From Asia

A Morning Read

As consumers are becoming more aware of the seafood industry’s environmental problems, a fishless fish boom is growing more likely. Sophisticated alternatives, both plant-based and lab grown, have begun to attract investment and appear at restaurants around the world.

“Just days after the catastrophe, American culture became a culture of prohibitions: a disciplined terrain where testimony was discouraged, and interpretation actively discredited,” writes Jason Farago, the critic at large for The Times.

The art that followed in that silence went small or minimalist: the spare memorial “Tribute in Light,” the personal dramas of the playwright Neil LaBute and the novelist Claire Messud in which the tragedy mundanely transformed their characters. Then the Iraq war made Sept. 11 and its interpretations the undercard.

A more positive response radiated from the site of the World Trade Center, one that, as the architecture critic Michael Kimmelman writes, “has ended up being the ultimate retort to Sept. 11 and the emblem of New York’s resilience.” Lower Manhattan is still a work in progress — but better than it was, more humane and livable. The district’s residential population tripled in the aftermath of the attacks.

The reinvention of the area is also a fitting tribute to Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the twin towers. The towers projected strength, physically and culturally, but were delicate as well, Alexandra Lange writes in Bloomberg CityLab. They were also supposed to be more sociable, but budget cuts killed his ideas for pools, trees and an arcade. In the shadow of no towers, that gentle part of his vision came back stronger than ever.

What to Cook

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina

P.S. The tech reporter Taylor Lorenz joined the podcast “Make Me Smart” to discuss the creator economy.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about an F.B.I. agent disillusioned with the U.S. war on terror.

Whet Moser wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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