October 23, 2021

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FirstFT: Dozens killed in Kabul bombings

World updates

Good morning. This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT newsletter. Sign up to our Asia, Europe/Africa or Americas edition to get it sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. You can reach us at firstft@ft.com

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At least 13 US military personnel died after two bombs exploded near Kabul’s airport yesterday, killing and wounding an unknown number of civilians as western countries scrambled to complete their evacuations from Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said that at least 18 troops were also injured following the two suicide attacks, which were believed to be affiliated with Isis. General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the Pentagon’s central command, said that he expected Isis to strike again.

The casualties resulted from a suicide bombing near the airport’s Abbey Gate, followed by a gunman opening fire on civilians and troops. Another blast occurred at or around the nearby Baron hotel, where evacuees had been congregating.

Joe Biden addressed the nation following the attacks, vowing to plough ahead with the evacuation and punish the perpetrators. “We will not be deterred by terrorists,” Biden said. “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” Follow the latest coverage of Afghanistan on FT.com.

Map showing site of explosions at Hamid Karzai International Airport

More on Afghanistan:

Life on the ground: Shops in Herat have reopened but women are staying at home as Afghanistan’s third-largest city adapts to the insurgents’ rule.

Opinion: Saad Mohseni, chair and chief executive of Moby Group, calls for a UN intervention. Joe Biden’s name will always be associated with the manner of America’s pullout, writes Edward Luce.

Watch: What next for Afghanistan? FT US managing editor Peter Spiegel speaks with former CIA director-general David Petraeus, former Afghan central bank governor Ajmal Ahmady and FT correspondents Katrina Manson and Stephanie Findlay.

Video: Highlights of an FT subscriber webinar on Afghanistan

Thanks as always for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Have a great weekend. — Jennifer

Five more stories in the news

1. EU to probe Nvidia’s $54bn Arm takeover Brussels is set to launch a formal competition probe into Nvidia’s planned takeover of the British chip designer in early September after months of informal discussions between regulators and the US chip company.

2. Warrington council lent £150m to THG founder A UK local council provided more than £150m, one of its largest loans, to billionaire Matt Moulding after he purchased a swath of the online retailer’s properties ahead of its stock market flotation.

3. US media deals Forbes has agreed to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company that values the US business news outlet at $630m, while Axel Springer, the German publishing group backed by private equity firm KKR, struck a deal to buy Politico, in the latest eye-catching media sector deals.

4. UK’s 70,000-pig surplus Britain’s pig producers have warned they are weeks away from culling healthy animals after abattoir labour shortages caused a backlog of surplus animals on farms.

5. BofA executives bow out Tom Montag, who helped reshape Bank of America as it emerged from the 2008-09 financial crisis, will retire at the end of the year. Anne Finucane, BofA’s vice-chair and one of the most senior women on Wall Street who was another central figure in the bank’s post-crisis recovery, will also step down.

Coronavirus digest

More than 100,000 lives have been saved by England’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, according to the national public health agency. Thailand was moved to the travel red list, as seven countries and regions went green.

British Airways will replace its short-haul operation at Gatwick airport with a new low-cost business as demand continues to suffer.

A photo of Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández flouting lockdown rules has his government on the defensive a month before midterm primaries.

Soho House’s owner said it will soon be “firing on all cylinders” despite the prospect of further lockdowns owing to the Delta variant.

The day ahead

Jackson Hole symposium Last week’s abrupt decision to move the annual gathering of central bankers to a virtual format for a second year underscored the pandemic risks still confronting economic recovery. All eyes will be on Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell’s address today. Markets wavered in anticipation.

Japan-Taiwan defence talks The nations will hold their first bilateral security talks as they seek to strengthen ties to counter China.

Economic data The US commerce department releases consumer spending and inflation data for July. France has consumer confidence figures out, as does Norway. (WSJ, FT)

What else we’re reading

Why are there so few female economists? It seems extraordinary that academic economics is inaccessible or unattractive to women. Half of all UK graduate students in economics are women — but they to head into the private sector or to think-tanks. The lack of family-friendly career paths is part of the problem, writes Tim Harford.

Tim Harford: ‘Academic economics remains a largely male activity, and the more senior the job grade, the more male-dominated it is’
Tim Harford: ‘Academic economics remains a largely male activity, and the more senior the job grade, the more male-dominated it is’ © Anna Wray

Net tightens around Mafia fugitives Cross-border co-operation and technological advances have made life on the run more challenging for Italy’s most wanted criminals. A spate of arrests this year underlined the challenges of remaining undetected in an era of pandemic travel restrictions and improved surveillance.

Private equity’s housing land rush Charities and powerful investment groups are fighting in the US over affordable apartments funded by tax credits — a trend that activists said could displace families whose homes were built with billions of dollars of government subsidies.

Opinion: We should be careful which metaverse we choose to live in The great thing about the future is that you can make it up. So it is with the latest infatuation: the metaverse. What this kind of internet 2.0 might look like, however, is more disturbing, writes John Thornhill.

Falling in love with the English countryside Derek Brower has lived in and left behind many places, including Winnipeg on the Canadian prairie, London’s Herne Hill and a dvor on the Moika river in St Petersburg. But he never felt sadder leaving than when he pulled out of Buxton three weeks ago, set for another transatlantic move.

Fashion

As her eponymous label turns 20, Stella McCartney opened up to Lauren Indvik about her new role at LVMH — and why fashion needs more government regulation.

Stella McCartney: ‘I’m penalised for working the way I do — it hits my margins, my methods, my timelines’
Stella McCartney: ‘I’m penalised for working the way I do — it hits my margins, my methods, my timelines’ © Gabby Laurent

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