Thursday Briefing: Climate and Ukraine at the U.N.

The Climate Ambition Summit yesterday at the United Nations.Credit…Sarah Yenesel/EPA, via Shutterstock

Climate and Ukraine take center stage at the U.N.

The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, convened a special summit yesterday in New York designed to shine a spotlight on the most ambitious global leaders on climate policy. The leaders of the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest polluters, did not get a turn at the microphone.

Of the world’s four biggest emitters, only the E.U. spoke at the summit. But despite its emphasis on ambition, the summit yielded little in the way of new announcements of climate action. In London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a delay on a ban on the sale of new gas and diesel cars, weakening Britain’s climate targets.

Also at the U.N., President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine presented his 10-point plan to end the war with Russia at a Security Council meeting and called for Russia to be stripped of its veto power.

“It is impossible to stop the war because all actions are vetoed by the aggressor,” he said.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, was not present for Zelensky’s speech. When Lavrov spoke later, he justified his country’s invasion, reiterating claims that the West had staged a “coup” in Ukraine to install a pro-Western president.

Zelensky had left the chamber by then and was not present for Lavrov’s remarks.

Zelensky is heading to Washington today. His visit comes as dozens of Republicans are opposing President Biden’s latest request of $24 billion for additional military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine’s war.

Credit…The New York Times

Ukraine’s counteroffensive gains

As fall approaches, and with it poor weather, Ukraine’s gains around the village of Robotyne, which its forces recaptured over the summer, could dictate the next moves in its southern campaign.

The first big strategic target, the rail and transport hub of Tokmak, is still another 15 miles away. Thirty miles south of Tokmak is the coastal city of Melitopol, a key prize in the battle for the south. This map illustrates the gains so far and the scope of the ground Ukraine still has to cover in its counteroffensive.

A photograph released by the Nagorno-Karabakh human rights ombudsman showed a damaged car in the Nagorno-Karabakh region yesterday.Credit…EPA, via Shutterstock

Azerbaijan reclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan said yesterday that it had restored full control over Nagorno-Karabakh after just two days of fighting. The enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has been under the control of Armenian separatists for more than three decades.

The development could create a wave of new refugees. The fate of the tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians still living in Nagorno-Karabakh is likely to emerge as an explosive and painful question.

The separatists’ surrender could also hasten the decline of Russian influence in the Caucasus, where Moscow has played a role as an arbiter between Armenia and Azerbaijan.


Asia Pacific

The landmark banyan tree in Lahaina, Hawaii, after the wildfires in early August.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times
  • A 150-year-old giant banyan tree in downtown Lahaina, Hawaii, that burned during the Maui fires is showing signs of recovery.

  • The police in South Korea accused 17 U.S. soldiers and five other people of distributing or using synthetic marijuana that had been brought into the country through the U.S. military’s postal service.

  • Rugby: An improbable run by the New Zealand Warriors has offered some excitement to counter the All Blacks’ recent misfortune.

Around the World

Black Lives Matter protesters in front of the New Scotland Yard building in central London last year.Credit…Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters
  • A police officer in Britain has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a Black man in south London last year, a rare move in a case that drew outrage.

  • President Biden met with Benjamin Netanyahu in New York and hinted that the Israeli leader might be invited to the White House within months — a major boost for the prime minister.

  • The union representing U.S. autoworkers threatened to expand its strike to more plants if its contract talks with three automakers failed to make progress.

  • At least 77 people died in a fire that tore through a dilapidated building in Johannesburg three weeks ago. Here are the stories of some of the victims.

Other Big Stories

  • Canada’s accusation that India killed a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia has revived long simmering tensions within Canada’s Indian diaspora.

  • More than a dozen authors, including John Grisham and Jonathan Franzen, are suing OpenAI for using their books to train its ChatGPT chatbot.

  • Seven works by Egon Schiele, an Austrian Expressionist, were handed over to the heirs of the man who had owned them before he was murdered by the Nazis.

A Morning Read

A flint found at the site used to shape the wooden structure.Credit…Larry Barham/University of Liverpool

Scientists have unearthed logs in Zambia that are nearly half a million years old and were part of large wooden structures crafted by our early ancestors. The discovery drastically pushes back the historical record of structural woodworking. Before, the oldest known examples of this craft were 9,000 years old.


The rapper Doechii in the studio.Credit…Noah Throop/The New York Times

How rap is written

Many fans might still have an outdated image of an artist scribbling furiously in a notepad — think Tupac, Nas or Eminem. But many younger hip-hop artists grew up idolizing stars like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Future and Young Thug, all of whom have boasted about never writing lyrics down at all.

Instead, much of modern rap music is composed via a strange, improvisational studio technique known as “punching in” — a freestyle approach to every line, one at a time, until a song is fully formed. Watch how it’s done.


Credit…Nico Schinco for The New York Times

Bake these dreamy four-ingredient Nutella brownies.

Choose which new iPhone to get with help from Wirecutter.

Listen and see redwith Doja Cat and other musicians.

Read one of these six young adult novels that focus on teen mental health.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin

P.S. “The Run-Up” podcast plans to answer readers’ questions about the 2024 election. Submit yours here.

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