Tenants and housing activists gathered in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in July to demand the city cancel rent. | Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images
“The pace we were going at before the pandemic was unsustainable.”
Eviction lawyers at the Legal Aid Society are used to working overtime. New York City’s venerable pro bono social justice firm has never known a lull throughout the 144 years it has represented tenants around the five boroughs. In that sense, staff attorney Diana Li knew exactly what she’d be up against as the coronavirus pandemic slowed the world to a halt.
Every day, she speaks to new clients complaining of landlord harassment and ongoing maintenance neglect. Li says that the volume of cases wasn’t surprising; as a public defender, she’s used to burning the midnight oil. Instead, the most profound frustrations of the Covid-19 era are found in the bureaucracy around the edges. Simply put, New York’s court system was not prepared for a pandemic.
The State Legislature brushed aside basic modernizations for decades, and the archaic inefficiencies of the system are rearing their ugly heads. Legal Aid lawyers keep their ears to the ground because the contours of tenants rights seem to change by the hour. First, nobody was allowed to be evicted in the state until June 20. Then it was September, and now it’s October 1, as the parameters for who that moratorium encompasses continues to shrink. The only thing predictable about being a tenant attorney in 2020 is that, just as before, there are millions of people in need.
Li says that her role at the Legal Aid Society is akin to a paramedic in an emergency room. There are so many individual crises in New York City that she often finds herself focused strictly on keeping her clients’ heads above water. That said, she is heartened by the global recognition of some of the long-standing structural issues that this pandemic has brought to light. The US is barreling toward an unprecedented housing crisis as between 30 million and 40 million Americans are at risk of being kicked out of their homes. There’s never been a more crucial time to analyze the dysfunction at the heart of our nation. We talked about that, as well as the technical hangups of virtual court and the lack of respect landlords have for the moratorium.
So when did you realize that your job was going to change?
Back in March, not everyone knew that everything was going to be shut down. There was this feeling that we might be working at home, but we’d still be going to court. But then the announcement came out that we weren’t going in anymore. That really changed the pace of our work. Our clients can’t afford attorneys, and our cases are supposed to be turned around quickly. There’s a pressure when you’re representing tenants that someone might get evicted next week or that a pay date might come. So, we thought this quarantine might be a breather. It’d be horrible to evict anyone during a pandemic.
The courts were really ill-equipped to handle virtual proceedings. It’s taken them a long time to get to a basic operating level, and there are still so many kinks in the system. They were already really reluctant to enter the 21st century, so there’s still no great answers.
What are some of the most frustrating issues you’ve found in the pivot to digital court?
We started receiving emergency referrals, because one of the things we set up really quickly were hotlines for tenants to call us if they had concerns. Before, a lot of our referrals happened physically at the courts. My first emergency case from that was a woman who hadn’t had heat, with some serious structural concerns with the apartment. We received the email of a petition that she had filed to the court on her own, and that included a phone number. We were told to reach out to her that way. I called it, and it wasn’t connected. We followed up with the city, saying, “Hey, do you have another number for us?” They gave us one, and it also didn’t work.
This was problematic because this woman didn’t know that we were trying to get in touch with her. She didn’t know that the referral had happened. The morning of the hearing, I asked my supervisor what I was supposed to do. We emailed the clerk to say that the city requested us to be on this case. We coordinated all day. They asked us if we were representing this person, and we had to be honest and say that we never met her. The city was planning on calling her, but because her number wasn’t working, that obviously couldn’t happen.
So I’m on hold all day trying to figure out what to do, because they’re not going to throw out the case. They gave us two weeks to try and get in touch with this client. We had our office send a priority mail letter to her, and I never heard back. The two weeks pass, and they call me that this woman had appeared in court. Like, she went to the courthouse, which was troubling, because technically, nobody was supposed to do that during the shutdown. Apparently, the court wasn’t telling tenants that they didn’t need to physically appear.
Basically, what ended up happening was the clerk allowed me to have five minutes to talk to her over Skype before they brought in the judge. I tried speaking to her, saying, “This is who I am, we can represent you.” And I couldn’t understand her. She had a mask on, the audio wasn’t great, the video wasn’t great. It was unclear whether or not she wanted us to represent her. The judge came on and asked if she wanted an interpreter or adult protective services, or if there was someone we could call who takes care of her. There was a lot lost in translation, and after a half-hour, we still couldn’t determine if she wanted our help. At the end of the day, the judge said we couldn’t retain the client because we had no way of contacting her. That was just a case that we couldn’t appear on. It was incredibly chaotic.
Did you guys experience a surge of inquiries at the beginning of the pandemic as so many businesses were shutting down and people realized they couldn’t pay their rent?
At the time, the hotline wasn’t well known. But the calls we were getting the most were from people who were trying to break their leases. Those aren’t questions we’re used to, because they were coming from college students who wanted to move back in with their parents. It was different. If it’s, “I don’t know if I can pay rent,” that’s a normal day for us before the pandemic.
What’s the typical coronavirus-era Legal Aid case? From the people you’re talking to and the issues you’re seeing, what have been the trends now that we’re six months into this?
What’s surprising to me is how much hasn’t changed. A lot of people have said this, but this pandemic has shined a light on things that were not working. The experience that my clients have are similar in character, but they’ve increased in magnitude.
Now that we have people’s attention, the question is what’s going to happen, and what we’re going to do about it. There’s a concern that it will just go back to how it was before, but we’ll be worse off because everyone’s been worse off during this time. The main differences are the logistics and how much of our work now involves paying really close attention to politics and executive orders. The things that ordinary people don’t focus on.
Have you run into any clients who aren’t aware that some of those newly passed legal protections are in place?
There are a few. There’s a lot of people who are aware that there’s a moratorium, but they might not know the details about it, so they’re very anxious. Landlords can serve notices again, saying things like, “If you don’t pay this we’re suing you in court.’”And people have a lot of questions about the timeline with that. It changes every week. It’s a constant struggle to stay updated and make sure that the courts are listening to us and our concerns.
How respectful have landlords been toward the moratorium in New York?
There’s a lot of malicious acts. There are [landlords] still playing dirty tricks to get people out of their homes. There have been people who have been locked out. In one very extraordinary case, and this one wasn’t mine, but a landlord had moved in with a tenant in order to harass them to get out. I believe the idea was that the tenant would be afraid of catching coronavirus from the landlord, by sharing the same space. I wouldn’t say that everyone is in a gnarly situation, I have plenty of clients that aren’t. But there are enough of those scenarios out there that plenty of people have to file emergency petitions.
There has been a lot of talk about a potential eviction crisis in the future as all of these moratoriums expire around the country. How much thought have you been giving that?
A lot of people acknowledge that possibility, but I have a hard time imagining that much of a difference. The pace we were going at before the pandemic was unsustainable. It’s hard to feel good about the quality of your work and how much you can do for an individual when there is so much need. The court often feels like an eviction mill. The idea that there’s going to be an unprecedented number of cases filed — on a practical basis, it’s hard to imagine that it will be that much more. Before this, everyone was working overtime so that all of these cases could be pushed through as fast as they could. This is really dark, but there’s a limit to how many people can be evicted in a day. It feels like we were already working at an extreme pace before things shut down.
Has there been anything about this crisis that has made you more passionate about your job?
I would say so. The attention this has, it’s no longer about individual crisis management. It’s about looking at the larger picture and addressing the real problems. Oftentimes, we’re the legal equivalent of an emergency room. You’re just triaging a lot of situations. But is there more affordable housing? Is there meaningful change? No.
If someone wants to get involved in the housing justice movement in an effective way, where should they turn?
Tenant power is in tenant activism. I’d say the best and most effective way for someone to be involved in the housing justice movement is to join their local tenants’ union or help a tenants’ union if one doesn’t exist in their community. I know that it can be daunting to enter these spaces for the first time, and most people have never participated in unions or organizing. But it’s so important to remember that you have to start somewhere and that you are not on your own.
If you don’t know how or where to start, there are entire networks of organizers to support you — go online, do some research, ask around. The collective knowledge and resources exist but folks do have to take the first step and participate. In New York, I would strongly recommend following and getting involved with or donating to the Right to Counsel Coalition and Housing Justice for All. They have spearheaded some truly inspiring campaigns and accomplished amazing things for tenants in New York. There’s only so much you can accomplish in a courthouse. We need meaningful policy changes right now, and from my vantage point, these changes can only be accomplished through collective action.
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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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