Today's edition of quick hits:
* An important speech: "President Joe Biden on Tuesday gave a forceful defense of his decision to pull troops from Afghanistan as critics question the chaotic final chapter of the nation's longest war. 'I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,' he said in his first public speech since the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan."
* A fascinating report: "Less than 24 hours before the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban stopped a bus headed for the Kabul airport and forced all the passengers off, saying the bus might be rigged with explosives and had two possible suicide attackers on board, according to the account of a U.S. citizen who was on the bus."
* On the ground in Afghanistan: "Officials emphasized that those 100 to 200 Americans who were not evacuated by Monday's deadline were among the most nuanced and complicated cases: individuals with dual citizenship and deep roots in Afghanistan; those with large extended families including non-citizens they hoped to bring with them; or those who waited until very late in the process to express their interest in leaving."
* Louisiana is currently facing all kinds of painful challenges, but this is encouraging: "The levees, floodwalls and floodgates that protect New Orleans held up against Hurricane Ida's fury, passing their toughest test since the federal government spent billions of dollars to upgrade a system that catastrophically failed when Hurricane Katrina struck 16 years ago."
* California wildfire: "A ferocious wildfire swept toward Lake Tahoe on Tuesday just hours after roads were clogged with fleeing cars when the entire California resort city of South Lake Tahoe was ordered to evacuate and communities just across the state line in Nevada were warned to get ready to leave."
* Good call: "A federal judge Monday threw out a major Trump administration rule that scaled back federal protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the United States, reversing one of the previous administration's most significant environmental rollbacks."
* A broken clock is right twice a day: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has filmed a public service announcement to encourage people to get the Covid vaccine, a 30-second video shot and distributed by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Kentucky Broadcasters Association."
* What a strange story: "The mysterious disappearance of the lawyer John Pierce began last Tuesday, prosecutors say, when he missed a hearing for one of the many cases where he is representing a defendant in the Capitol riot investigation. The young associate who took his place said that Mr. Pierce had a 'conflict.' At the time, no one seemed to give it much mind. But in the days that followed, Mr. Pierce — who is defending more cases connected to the riot than any other lawyer — missed additional hearings and the reasons for his absence started changing."
* We have so much work to do: "The number of hate crimes in the United States rose in 2020 to the highest level in 12 years, propelled by increasing assaults targeting Black and Asian people, the FBI reported Monday."
See you tomorrow.