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Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times


Good morning. We’re covering an agreement at COP26, rising tensions on the Poland-Belarus border and a U.S. military cover-up in Syria.

On Saturday, diplomats from nearly 200 countries struck an agreement to do more to fight climate change. Signed at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the pact urged wealthy nations to “at least double” funding to protect poor nations from the hazards of a hotter planet.

The pact also states that all nations will need to halve their carbon dioxide emissions this decade to hold warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to preindustrial levels. It called on governments to return next year with stronger plans to cut emissions. And it is the first global climate agreement to explicitly mention the need to curb fossil fuels. Here are the key takeaways.

However, the pact still leaves developing countries far short of the funds they need to build cleaner energy and cope with extreme weather. And it leaves unresolved how the burden of those cuts will be shared and what action is expected of individual nations.

Next steps: The plan’s architects hope the agreement will show governments and corporations that more ambitious action is inevitable, empowering civil society groups and lawmakers to shift toward cleaner energy sources.

Thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have limited food, water or power to charge their phones, as temperatures drop to dangerous levels. Poland said that at least nine have died there; Belarus has not released details. Watch video from the scene.

The crisis was engineered by the country’s strongman leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko. Belarus loosened its visa rules. The state-owned airline increased flights from the Middle East to Minsk, the capital. Then, Belarusian security forces ferried the new arrivals to the border and, migrants say, supplied them with wire cutters to cross fences.

European leaders have characterized the move as a cynical ploy to punish the bloc. Now, troop movements are ramping up a stalemate with chilling echoes of the Cold War.

Analysis: Europe has long paid other nations to keep refugees away from its borders, our columnist writes. That’s given countries on the periphery the leverage to use migrants as pawns.

Global impact: Sulaimaniya, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, has turned into a bustling port of departure. The bazaars are buzzing with winter clothes sales, as travel agents sell about 100 packages a week for trips to Belarus.

The latest: Hoping to stem the flow of migrants, Dubai banned Iraqi and Syrian passengers from traveling to Minsk.

The military hid an airstrike that killed dozens of Syrian civilians in 2019, as the battle against the Islamic State came to a close.

An American attack jet dropped a 500-pound bomb on a large crowd of women and children. Then, a jet tracking the crowd dropped two 2,000-pound bombs, killing most of the survivors. The Times reported the details for the first time.

At nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed or downplayed the catastrophic attack, one of the war’s largest civilian casualty incidents.

A legal officer flagged the bombing as a possible war crime that required an investigation, but the military never conducted an independent investigation. The Defense Department’s independent inspector general began an inquiry, but the report containing its findings was stalled and stripped of any mention of the strike.

Details: The Times investigation found that a classified American Special Operations unit, Task Force 9, had called in the bombing. The task force — which was in charge of ground operations in Syria — operated in such secrecy that it did not always inform even its own military partners of its actions.


Chen Nianxi, a miner who became a celebrated poet, is a pioneering voice in a new Chinese genre: “migrant worker literature.” A voice of the country’s often-invisible laborers, he is caught between his old life and his new.

“Before there was bread or pasta, much less meat or fish, there was rice,” Hanya Yanagihara writes in T magazine. Though rice has origins in both Asia and Africa, it’s hard to find a culture that hasn’t made the foodstuff its own: fried, puréed, roasted, baked or scorched. And so, for T’s winter travel issue, writers explored the world through the grain. Some highlights:

Senegal, which consumes more rice per capita than almost any other African nation, is attempting to resuscitate homegrown varieties.

Mansaf, a dish of lamb and rice, is a national symbol in Jordan and a taste of home for suburban Detroit’s Arab American diaspora.

In Mexico, rice arrived via the Spanish Conquest, making its presence there inextricable from colonialism.

And when browned on the bottom of a pot, rice becomes a treasure prized by food cultures in Iran, Vietnam, the Philippines and elsewhere.

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