Part of The Great Rebuild Issue of The Highlight, our home for ambitious stories that explain our world.
As America’s generals were plotting the final moves of World War II, its economists had another concern: the potentially dire economic consequences of victory.
The war, of course, had been preceded by a severe and prolonged depression. And many thought its end would bring back mass unemployment; after all, the demobilization of soldiers in the wake of World War I created a severe recession. In 1939, Alvin Hansen, a leading American Keynesian economist, published a famous analysis suggesting that with the frontier closed, the United States was now due to become a country with slow population growth and structurally deficient demand for investment. In other words: It was destined to be a country mired in frequent recessions.
The war had solved the problem, providing employment for millions both as soldiers and as workers in war production industries. But after the war, what would they all do?
America found its answer in what historian Kenneth Jackson memorably dubbed “the crabgrass frontier” — suburbs opened by the automobile and the construction of the Interstate Highway System — which became the engine for a new era of growth. The ability to construct vast tracts of new, larger homes — homes that ex-soldiers could purchase thanks to subsidized loans via the GI Bill of Rights — became the source of investment demand that Hansen feared America would lack.
The new homes would have to be filled with durable goods, including appliances, furniture, and cars, that factories no longer busy serving as the arsenal of democracy could churn out. Along the way, the debt-financed purchase of homes became an engine of wealth accumulation that America’s growing families could pass on to their children.
This story has become well known lately for its role in widening the racial wealth gap. Black neighborhoods and mortgage applicants were largely excluded from federal largesse even as the civil rights movement was winning victories in the courts and, eventually, in Congress.
An equivalent policy approach today must be racially inclusive and more mindful of environmental sustainability, but house-building as the cornerstone of rebuilding the economy remains a solid idea. The United States is currently both underhoused and underemployed but possessed of plenty of capacity to build more. A combination of rental assistance for consumers, capital funding for affordable housing, and regulatory relief for builders of all kinds could unleash a massive boom in new construction, creating countless blue-collar jobs and laying the foundation for a new era of inclusive prosperity.
It only needs to direct money to those in need and provide regulatory relief to those inclined to build.
Before there was Covid-19, there was the Great Recession. And before that, the great housing price bubble of the mid-aughts.
Despite the enormous price increases in some metro areas during the bubble, the number of houses built then was modest — extremely modest compared to the scale of the housing slump that followed. The perception of a George W. Bush-era house-building boom is largely an illusion, wrote Mercatus Center researchers Kevin Erdmann and Scott Sumner, “based on the fact that construction of new single-family homes did reach record levels in 2005–2006.” But it did not result in a sky-high quantity of total housing. Instead, they wrote, the single-family boom was a “shift of market share out of manufactured and multi-unit homes.”
So after more than a decade of post-boom slump, the United States is significantly short of houses. Even before the pandemic — i.e., during a time of economic growth — the number of young adults living with their parents was rising, according to the Pew Research Center, while the Urban Institute found an increase in the share of Americans with crowded housing arrangements. This overcrowding was a policy failure on its own terms, but also proved to be tinder for the spread of the virus.
Unlike in the 1940s, we don’t really need to do much now to get people subsidized loans. Mortgage interest rates are at record lows, so families with the means to make a down payment can easily buy. But then there’s everyone else.
“We certainly need a renters’ policy in America right now,” says Darrick Hamilton, the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State, who’ll soon be rejoining the economics faculty at the New School in New York. Policies that focus on cheap credit, such as what the Federal Reserve has delivered, or the Trump administration’s emphasis on tax cuts, can help boost a severely depressed economy. But Hamilton cautions that they also exacerbate gaps between people who already have the money necessary to take advantage and “the existing residents who aren’t positioned to benefit from those incentives.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has already proposed fully funding the Section 8 housing voucher program. The program helps millions of low-income families by putting housing assistance directly in their hands — and creates a huge new market opportunity in building homes for them to rent. But pre-pandemic, Section 8 excluded about 75 percent of eligible households, and it will only exclude more as joblessness grows. Mary Cunningham, the vice president for metropolitan housing and communities policy at Urban Institute, says making it universal “will go a long way in making sure every American has a home.”
While Biden has endorsed the idea, he has not really foregrounded it in his campaign rhetoric, nor has he indicated that he sees it as part of an economic recovery program. But it’s extremely well targeted as economic stimulus to give money to families who are sure to spend it. If paired with smart regulatory ideas, it could unleash a real boom in house-building that creates jobs and lays the foundation for future prosperity.
A big difference between the housing problems of today and those of two generations ago is where the demand is. Sprawling construction of new homes continues to take place on the crabgrass frontier, but in most cities of any size, that frontier is now located far from the most convenient commuting routes. And in the geographically constrained cities of the Pacific Coast and the Northeast Corridor, and in cities like Denver and Miami, the frontier is essentially closed. A healthy dose of the future of construction has to be “infill” — new development in already developed neighborhoods. That happens today to an extent in low-income or formerly industrial neighborhoods, but it’s often blocked by local homeowners in the priciest areas where new building would be most desirable.
“Those that are better positioned politically, economically, and even racially are able to use state apparatus, including zoning laws, to enrich themselves at the expense of others,” Hamilton says.
Until relatively recently, the Trump administration agreed with this diagnosis, arguing that exclusionary zoning laws were hurting the economy and contributing to the rising homelessness problem of pre-Covid-19 America. Housing Secretary Ben Carson even tweeted in 2018 that “we must look at increasing the supply of affordable housing by reducing onerous zoning regulations.”
But more recently, Trump has been trying to counteract poor polling results among upscale whites by promising to uphold the “suburban lifestyle dream” by excluding apartments from upscale neighborhoods. The St. Louis couple made famous for waving guns at protesters, the McCloskeys, warned at the Republican National Convention that progressives have an agenda for “ending single-family home zoning,” which would “bring crime, lawlessness, and low-quality apartments into thriving suburban neighborhoods.”
There is nothing wrong with single-family homes. But a regulatory requirement that only single-family homes be built across vast swaths of land is a recipe for housing scarcity, and it explains why decent housing has slid out of reach for so many middle-class families in some American cities. Equipping the lowest-income residents with financial assistance will be a big boost to them, but no amount of cheap credit and vouchers can compensate for an objective shortfall of dwellings.
Most Democrats aren’t actually seeking to abolish single-family zoning. A visionary effort in California to force high-income and transit-proximate communities to accept apartment buildings died in the overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature last year on a vote that scrambled party allegiances and saw many Southern California liberals take the McCloskey family view.
But the city of Portland offers an alternate vision of reform.
Last summer, the Oregon state legislature took action to allow two-unit structures across almost the entire state and three-unit ones in its larger towns. This doesn’t “abolish the suburbs,” but it does ensure that a wider variety of house types are available in a wider range of communities.
And this summer, the city of Portland went even further, enacting what the Sightline Institute’s Michael Andersen calls “the best low-density zoning reform in the US.”
The details are a bit complicated, resulting from a coalition-building process that doesn’t lend itself to easy single-sentence description. But the urbanist and illustrator Alfred Twu produced a graphic for Sightline that shows the breadth and scope of changes, including an easier path to build accessory dwelling units, relaxed parking rules, legalization of four-unit “cottage clusters,” and a structure for building small, six-unit apartment buildings if half the units are provided at deeply subsidized rates to poor families.
This should allow nonprofit builders to create mixed-income buildings that generate enough rent from market-rate tenants to cover operating costs.
Madeline Kovacs, who helped organize the coalition that secured the historic reform, says it took a combination of determination and open-mindedness to build an alliance between skeptics of overweening regulation and advocates for low-income communities. The bill’s contents are hard to summarize cleanly because it was a question of “getting those people around the table and hashing it out, over and over and over again.” But ultimately it worked, and it mobilized enough citizen enthusiasm to match the notorious status quo bias of the community meeting process.
“We matched anti-housing testimony and even outstripped it by a couple of people,” she said.
But just because you can build new types of housing doesn’t mean you will. That’s where money comes in.
The genius of policy that allows more market-rate construction — whether that’s zoning for duplexes in the suburbs or taller apartments in central cities — is that the Federal Reserve has already acted to make the financing easy. If there’s a project that pencils out as profitable, and the regulatory climate allows it to be completed in a reasonable time frame, loans are cheap these days. But more jurisdictions should pay attention to that time frame issue. With state and local tax bases hard-hit by the pandemic and study after study after study after study confirming that more market-rate house-building improves affordability, every jurisdiction should look at how it can ease off on anti-housing rules.
But there is more to life than the profit motive.
“There’s practically nothing in the American political or economic system that doesn’t run straight into housing,” says Felicia Wong, the president and CEO of the progressive Roosevelt Institute. Whether you’re talking about education, policing, transportation, climate, or access to jobs, the nature of the building environment is critical. Subsidizing low-income renters on the demand side can be extremely helpful. But constructing non-market housing to deliberately promote integration or expand access, as envisioned in Portland, should also be on the table.
“We would also argue at Roosevelt that the federal government has a role in providing more affordable housing,” Wong says.
As Portland’s example shows, funding non-market housing is not in tension with regulatory reform. Instead, if we want affordable housing to exist in any quantity outside of the most depressed areas, we need regulatory reforms to allow its construction.
Matthew Yglesias is a senior correspondent focused on politics and economic policy. He is one of the co-founders of Vox. He’s a host of The Weeds podcast, and the author of One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger.
This story is part of The Great Rebuild, a project made possible thanks to support from Omidyar Network, a social impact venture that works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies. All Great Rebuild coverage is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.
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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
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