Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

We cover General Mark Milley’s testimony and the unpredictable leadership race in Japan.

General Mark Milley, the top US military commander, defended his actions in the final months of the Trump administration and warned of the “very real possibility” that Al Qaeda and ISIS could rebuild themselves in Afghanistan , after the withdrawal of American troops.

In his testimony to lawmakers on Tuesday, Milley insisted that the calls he made to his Chinese counterpart last year and a meeting in which he asked U.S. generals to alert him if the president tried to launch a nuclear weapon were all part of his job as the most senior military officer.

Senior military officers have publicly admitted for the first time that they have advised President Biden not to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan. They said the collapse of the Afghan army took the commanders by surprise.

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that a reenactment of Al Qaeda or ISIS in Afghanistan “with aspirations to attack the United States is a very real possibility.” He added: “And these conditions, to include activity in ungoverned spaces, could arise in the next 12 to 36 months.”

Drone attack: After a Times investigation found that a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on August 29 killed 10 civilians, senators had the opportunity to ask senior military officials directly what was wrong.

Polls show the Japanese public is supportive of Taro Kono, the minister overseeing the deployment of the coronavirus vaccine in Japan, to be the next prime minister. He is ahead of the other candidates in the race to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party – which, in fact, is the race to become prime minister.

Party members will vote on Wednesday to choose a successor to Yoshihide Suga, the current prime minister and party leader.

But behind the scenes, Kono, 58, doesn’t have as much support. His reputation as a maverick and his leftist views on social issues put him at odds with the party’s former conservatives, who have considerable influence.

Details: Kono courted public opinion, posting playful tweets and even personally answering vaccine questions online. He opposes nuclear power and supports same-sex marriage, positions that put him on the bad side of many party members.

Competitors: Sanae Takaichi, 60, an uncompromising conservative, is said to be Japan’s first female prime minister. She enjoys strong support from the right-wing party and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Many party members believe 64-year-old Fumio Kishida, a moderate with lukewarm support in the polls, is the safest choice.

The pandemic: Japan ends its state of emergency measures on Thursday as the number of new daily coronavirus cases declined and the vaccine rollout reached nearly 60% of the population.

Pfizer and BioNTech said on Tuesday they had submitted data to U.S. regulators that the companies said showed their coronavirus vaccine to be safe and effective in children aged 5 to 11.

The companies have said they will submit a formal request to allow a pediatric dose of their vaccine to be administered in the United States in the coming weeks. Similar requests will be filed with regulators in Europe and in other countries.

About a week ago, Pfizer and BioNTech announced favorable results from their clinical trial with more than 2,200 participants in this age group.

The context: In the United States, about 28 million children aged 5 to 11 are believed to be eligible for the vaccine, far more than the 17 million children aged 12 to 15 who became eligible for the vaccine in May.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

Asian News

Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s former White House press secretary, releases revealing book that accuses former President Trump of abusing his staff, appeasing dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and making comments sex on a young assistant. Its publisher calls the book “the most candid and intimate portrait of the White House of Trump to date.” We have a few highlights from the manuscript.

At a recent concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, nearly 6,000 attendees gathered dressed in a mix of costumes, ties and cosplay of video game characters. They had come to see an orchestra and a choir perform the music of Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997.

The music for the first installment of the Final Fantasy series in 1987 was limited to a handful of electronic sounds. But technology evolved, and by the late 1990s games featured live orchestral recordings. Nobuo Uematsu, who composed the scores for the first nine installments of Final Fantasy, was inspired by influences as varied as Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Celtic music and classical music.

The soundtracks of the Final Fantasy series are extremely popular: since 2007, there have been more than 200 official concerts in 20 countries. During the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics this summer, some athletes marched to songs from Final Fantasy. On YouTube, fans post covers, tutorials and their own compositions.

“There are melodies that I composed almost 30 years ago that I almost forgot,” said Junya Nakano, who worked with Uematsu on the score for the 10th installment of Final Fantasy. “But the fans still play them.”

What to cook

The world through a lens

In southern Mexico, the Zapotec people have long accepted – and celebrated – gender nonconformity. Our Travel section has these portraits of the community.

Now is the time to play

Here are today’s mini crosswords, and a hint: Plumped up, like a pillow (five letters).

And here’s today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all of our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. And a correction: Yesterday’s briefing incorrectly described the number of women running for the next prime minister of Japan. There are two, not four.

See you next time. – Melina

PS The Times introduced the Headway team, which will investigate important national and international challenges through the lens of progress.

The last episode of “The Daily” includes a conversation with an Afghan general.

Sanam Yar wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].

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