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Biden on Afghanistan: "I stand squarely behind my decision"

Amid rising fear and chaos in Afghanistan, President Biden staunchly stood by the decision to leave the country on Monday afternoon, saying he "stands squarely behind" the decision to pull out of the country.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has faced sharp criticism over its response to the rapid collapse of Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation effort. Evacuation flights were suspended Monday after thousands of Afghans stormed a runway at the international airport in Kabul in attempts to flee the country.


  • At least seven people have been killed during the chaos at the airport, including several Afghans who plunged to their deaths after clinging on to a U.S. military jet that took off from the runway, according to AP.
  • Many Afghans who aided U.S. and coalition forces have yet to be evacuated from the country.

What he's saying: "This did unfold more quickly than we anticipated," Biden said arguing that Afghan forces gave up and "we could not provide them with the will to fight for that future."

The big picture: More than 300,000 Afghans have been internally displaced, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration. Scores of migrants are undertaking dangerous journeys to seek safety.

  • In June, roughly 40,000 people fled to neighboring Iran per week.
  • Afghans who aided U.S. and coalition forces have yet to be evacuated from the country.
  • The Biden administration is still making attempts to secure temporary housing in other countries for those who risk retaliation from the Taliban.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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