The Avengers are assembling to protect Chris Pratt from the ignominy of being declared the worst of the Hollywood Chrises.
Hollywood Chris discourse has been a staple of online conversation since 2014, when Pratt joined the Chrises Hemsworth and Evans under the Marvel umbrella as the lead of Guardians of the Galaxy, becoming the studio’s third blue-eyed, blond-haired action star named Chris. (At the time, Chris Pine was only a borderline Chris, best known for playing Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek, but he carved out a permanent spot for himself on the roster of Hollywood Chrises after his role in 2017’s Wonder Woman.) The internet did what the internet does and started ranking the Chrises, and it hasn’t really stopped since.
And over what I would conservatively estimate as the 59.8 trillion times the Chrises have been ranked, a loose consensus has formed on the parts of social media where media and entertainment people hang out: The top three shift around in the rankings based mostly on which one has released a movie most recently, but consistently, Chris Pratt is the worst one. Also, you can sometimes get away with acting like a visionary if you suggest a different Chris should join the roster. (Most people go for Chris Messina or Christine Baranski, but I stand by my pick of Kristen Stewart.)
So when producer Amy Berg posted a picture of the Four Hollywood Chrises to Twitter on October 17, with the instructions, “One has to go,” the internet went on doing what the internet does. It picked Pratt to go, overwhelmingly, with more than 10,000 replies.
“Pratt was banished from Chris Island years ago,” declared one respondent.
“I hate his hypocrisy of playing the nice guy while supporting a homophobic cult,” said another, referring to Pratt’s membership in Zoe Church, which reportedly has anti-LGBTQ views. “It’s one or the other. You don’t get to fund my abuse while telling me you want me as a fan.”
Declaring Chris Pratt to be the Chris Who’s Gotta Go in 2020 — the apocalyptic year of plague and riots 2020 — is a fairly ice cold take. That’s why so many people have the take: It’s been established as the obvious conventional wisdom. So by all rights, Berg’s tweet should have done what all other Chris discourse does by now and generate a mild chuckle from a few people before quietly fading away.
Instead, Berg’s Chris tweet trended internationally. It made the news, and multiple A-list celebrities made public statements avowing their support for Pratt and their disdain for those heartless internet bullies who have invoked the laws of Gotta Go to tell Chris Pratt he Gotta Get.
So now, just weeks before the election, here we all are caring about the Chris Discourse again.
Why not. Quarantine’s made us do weirder things. Let’s do this.
How Chris Pratt went from Best Chris to Worst Chris
It might be difficult to remember now, but there was a time around 2014 when Chris Pratt was a popular choice for Best Chris.
He had all that comedy cred from his years on Parks and Rec, but then he transformed himself into a buff action star! He was so goofy and fun as Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy! He said such nice stuff about his then-wife, Anna Faris! He was so charming in interviews, and he even French-braided that one girl’s hair. What was not to like?
But gradually, the bloom seemed to come off the Chris Pratt rose. He’s been a Hollywood Chris since 2014, but around 2016, he began sliding inexorably from Best Chris to Worst Chris.
Was it the roles he was taking? Starlord is fun, but he’s kind of a douche. And then there was Passengers, the space romance Pratt starred in opposite Jennifer Lawrence that seemed like a sure thing until early reviews started to suggest that his character was coming off as kind of a creep. Was it his personal life, and the mysterious divorce from Faris? Was it the resurfaced story from 2011 about how he tried to rehome his elderly cat on Twitter? Was it the story of the time he flashed Amy Poehler as a joke on Parks and Rec?
It was all of those things, probably, but more than anything else, it was politics.
Pratt’s political affiliation is a mystery. He rarely talks about politics in public, and public records show him donating to both Democrats and Republicans. Certainly he has never gone so far as to endorse Donald Trump. But as he’s grown more famous, he’s used more and more signifiers of conservatism in public.
In 2017, he gave an interview about how Hollywood doesn’t tell enough stories about the working class. In 2019, he was photographed wearing a Gadsden flag, the one with the “don’t tread on me” logo over a snake that’s become beloved of the Tea Party and is used by far-right militias. He posts on social media about how much he loves the cops. Observing fans began to wonder if he was maybe a Trump supporter (he’s never publicly discussed it).
And sometime between 2014, when Pratt told Esquire he didn’t identify with any religious denomination, and 2019, Pratt joined Zoe Church, an evangelical church for the beautiful and cool in LA. Which, as the actor Ellen Page has pointed out on Twitter, is also a church that seems to have issues with the LGBTQ community.
“If you are a famous actor and you belong to an organization that hates a certain group of people, don’t be surprised if someone simply wonders why it’s not addressed,” Page tweeted after Pratt discussed his membership on a talk show in 2019.
Pratt responded defensively, writing on Instagram that Zoe Church “opens their doors to absolutely everyone.” The church does not have an official position on any LGBTQ-related issues. But as CNN reported, Zoe Church’s church’s pastor, Chad Veach, produced a film that refers to “same-sex attraction” as one form of “sexual brokenness,” comparing it to a pornography addiction. And as Laura Turner wrote for Vox of celeb-friendly evangelical churches like Zoe Church, “It isn’t much more forward-thinking than the churches our parents grew up in. It just looks a little cooler.”
Zoe Church appears to espouse teachings that make life harder for LGBTQ people, by suggesting that queerness is a choice or a problem that can and should be reversed or fixed. And Pratt, as one of the church’s most high-profile celebrity members, helps it spread those teachings. Regardless of what Pratt’s personal beliefs are, that’s harmful.
So for those who hang out on social media and track things like the fortunes of the Chrises — and who are also interested in progressive issues — the narrative was set: Chris Pratt belonged to an anti-LGBTQ church, he was culturally conservative enough to seem like he maybe could be a Trump supporter too, and he was henceforth the Worst Chris. By 2019, the debate was settled.
This kind of internet discourse traditionally has little effect on the actual careers of actors, and they can generally ignore it safely. But in 2020, the celebrity world has decided to weigh in on what the internet thinks of their good friend Chris Pratt.
Here are celebrities caring about which Chris is best, for some reason
This latest round of Chris Pratt controversy appears to have started when Pratt’s wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, weighed in on an E! Instagram post aggregating Berg’s tweet. Schwarzenegger decried the tweet as an example of “meanness and bullying,” and soon Pratt’s celebrity friends were following suit, including some of the biggest names in the MCU.
Politically minded Mark Ruffalo (a.k.a. the Hulk) — who has previously endorsed Bernie Sanders for president and called for George W. Bush to be “brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War” — declared Pratt “as solid a man as there is” and urged his followers not to be distracted but to focus on the election. (Is there a conspiracy theory going that the Pratt wars are a Russian disinformation campaign? Because I feel like Ruffalo’s tweet would be grist for that particular mill if so.) Iron Man himself joined in, as Robert Downey Jr. put up a hashtag-heavy Instagram post declaring Pratt to be his “#brother” and urging the haters to delete their accounts. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn called Pratt “the best dude in the world.” And Guardians of the Galaxy costar Zoe Saldana quoted Tupac in her support of Pratt.
In the larger scheme of things, Ruffalo is probably correct that Chris Pratt’s place in the internet Chris discourse is an incredibly pointless thing to care about. That is why it is fun for normal people to bicker about it, and why celebrities don’t usually waste their time on it. And lots of us could probably all agree that it’s nice-ish-ranging-to-fine that Pratt’s friends and colleagues want to support him, pretty bad that Pratt promotes a church that seems harmful to the LGBTQ community, and downright embarrassing for everyone that a bunch of celebs would be so unchill as to care what Twitter says about who’s cool or not, and then move on with our lives.
But there is one weird wrinkle to this story that I’d like to spend a little time on.
MCU actresses get harassed online all the time. Where is all this support then?
Pratt is not the first MCU actor to become a target of social media hate. But he is the first one to get the “Avengers assemble!” solidarity treatment from his co-stars.
When Brie Larson was cast as Captain Marvel, she was subjected to years of hatred and an attempted boycott because she is a feminist in public. Thor: Ragnarok’s Tessa Thompson received a similar treatment for saying she hoped Hollywood sets could become more diverse. And it might be the case that A-list actors don’t want to engage with the misogynist set that harassed Larson and Thompson, but consider the lefties criticizing Pratt to be “their sort” and hence more game for chastising — still, Scarlett Johansson can barely get through an interview without saying something so cringe that Twitter starts clowning on her.
Did Robert Downey Jr. issue them hashtags of support? Was Mark Ruffalo posting political tweets in their favor? Where were the Oscar winners and A-listers offering their female co-stars public encouragement any of those times? Oscar nominee Don Cheadle was there for Brie Larson. But where was everybody else?
Look, of course it makes celebrities look weak and petty to get all het up about Chris Discourse now — Now! In 2020! At least three years after the Chris Discourse stopped being interesting! — but whatever, staying home all the time because of the pandemic is boring, the election is looming, and everyone is saying things they’ll regret later on social media.
And yet it is a glaring fact that not one of these Marvel movie stars who jumped to Chris Pratt’s defense this week has previously appeared inclined to lend the enormous weight of their public support to the actresses they work with when they felt the sting of public backlash and harassment. And because those actresses are women in public, they’ve faced a lot more backlash and harassment than Pratt has. Meanwhile, the reason this situation began in the first place is that Pratt does not appear to care about the way his church pastor talks about LGBTQ people, meaning that he is lending the enormous weight of his support to an organization that’s been accused of harming a vulnerable community.
The whole thing is shaping up to be another example of how rarely American pop culture treats women and people of color as full human beings worthy of empathy and compassion — and of how, in contrast, our biggest pop culture artifacts and the people who make them seem ever ready to empathize with straight white men. Especially when the straight white men have blond hair, blue eyes, and the name Chris.
Anyway, Pine is the best Chris.
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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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