Wednesday Briefing: More Than 5,000 Dead in Libya

The devastation in the city of Derna, Libya, yesterday.Credit…Jamal Alkomaty/Associated Press

More than 5,000 dead in the Libya floods

Thousands of people have been killed in Libya and thousands more are missing in the flooding from heavy rains that caused two dams to collapse near the coastal city of Derna.

The flooding buckled buildings, sank vehicles and blocked roads, as entire neighborhoods in Derna were swept into the sea. At least 5,200 people died in the city alone and 20,000 were displaced, according to the regional authorities. These maps show where the dams burst.

Credit…The New York Times

Libya was ill-prepared for the storm, called Daniel, that made landfall on Sunday after battering Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria last week, killing more than a dozen people.

Libya, a North African country, has been divided for years between an internationally recognized government based in Tripoli and a separately administered region in the east, which includes Derna. It was unclear how the different authorities were coordinating the search and rescue efforts.

Context: The flooding underscored how climate change can combine with political conflict and economic failure to magnify the scale of disasters.

Elsewhere in the region, aid workers in Morocco say hopes of rescuing trapped victims in the rubble of last week’s earthquake were dwindling. The death toll reached at least 2,901 yesterday, with more than 5,530 injured, according to the Moroccan interior ministry. The toll is expected to rise further.

The tragedy has put a spotlight on King Mohammed VI, whose low visibility and silence, coupled with the government’s response to the earthquake, have been criticized.

A Google office in Manhattan. The tech giant has been accused of misusing its power over the internet search market.Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

U.S. blasts Google’s tactics as trial opens

Opening statements have begun in the most consequential trial over tech power in the modern internet era.

The U.S. government accused Google of using its deep pockets and dominant position to entrench its power, paying more than $10 billion a year to Apple and others to be the default search provider on smartphones. Google viewed those agreements as a “powerful strategic weapon” to cut out rivals, the government said.

Google denied that it had illegally used agreements to exclude its search competitors and said it had simply provided a superior product, adding that people can easily switch the search engine they use. The trial will unfold over the next 10 weeks, and the final ruling could shift the balance of power in the tech industry.

Arm, led by Rene Haas, designs processor cores, a crucial part of computer chips.Credit…Ritchie B Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

A huge I.P.O. looms for the chip designer Arm

The British chip designer Arm, which for decades has defined how mobile phones operate, is preparing to go public on the Nasdaq on Thursday. Valued at $52 billion, it would be 2023’s biggest initial public offering so far.

Arm has less than $3 billion in annual revenue, but as the creator of the most widely used computing architecture of all time, it faces immense geopolitical complexities. Its I.P.O. will signal Arm’s ability to weather those challenges and enter new markets.

Masayoshi Son, the chief executive of SoftBank and Arm’s owner, also needs a hit after recently agreeing to buy out his fellow investors at a $64 billion valuation. He believes that the chip design company he bought in 2016 is poised to reap the fruits of the A.I. revolution.


Asia Pacific

A photo released by the Russian government shows Kim Jong-un at a train station in Russia yesterday.Credit…Agence France-Presse, via Russian Environment Ministry/Afp
  • Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, arrived in Russia, the Kremlin confirmed. He is expected to meet President Vladimir Putin today.

  • Maria Ressa, the journalist and Nobel laureate who has faced a barrage of charges from the Philippine government, was cleared of tax fraud.

  • The family of George Lindemann, a collector and philanthropist, returned 33 statues to Cambodia after conceding that they had been looted.

  • As the power of the “global south” grows, India is positioning itself to be a better bridge to the West than China.

Around the World

An impeachment inquiry will give Republicans broad powers to request documents and testimony.Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times
  • Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the U.S. House, ordered an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

  • Israel’s Supreme Court began meeting yesterday to decide whether to strike down a law limiting its own power, potentially setting up a constitutional crisis.

  • President Vladimir Putin waded into American politics, saying the criminal cases against Donald Trump amounted to political persecution.

  • Poverty in the U.S. soared last year, particularly among children, after pandemic aid programs ended.

Other Big Stories

  • Apple unveiled its iPhone 15, which has dropped the Lightning port in favor of European-mandated USB-C ports.

  • After an American cave expert got sick in a cave in Turkey, an international team of over 180 people extracted him.

  • Sarah Burton, who turned Alexander McQueen’s label into a luxury powerhouse, will depart the company after its show at Paris Fashion Week.

A Morning Read

Credit…Scott Wagstaff

In 1996, raging floods swept six young bull sharks into a lake near the 14th hole of the Carbrook Golf Club near Brisbane, Australia. They stayed there for 17 years, giving the course the ultimate water hazard.

The bull sharks, according to a new study, are more than just a fluke: They can live indefinitely in such low-salinity environments. Unfortunately, it’s one of the many reasons they’re responsible for dozens of fatal attacks on humans.


Tetsuya Ishida’s “Refuel Meal” (1996).Credit…© Tetsuya Ishida Estate. Courtesy of the artist, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, and Gagosian

Painting Japan’s Lost Decade

Observers of the world economy call the 1990s Japan’s Lost Decade, when the bubble of the 1980s burst and unemployment and bankruptcies rose. As is often the case, adolescents and young adults were especially affected. It was during this time that the artist Tetsuya Ishida began channeling his era’s isolation and anxiety into nightmarish visions.

Working intermittent jobs, he received little recognition during his lifetime — he died at age 31 after being struck by a train — and his works have not been easily seen by Western audiences. The Gagosian Gallery in New York City yesterday opened the most comprehensive U.S. showing to date of Ishida’s paintings.

With their recurring themes of loneliness and isolation, rabid consumerism and addiction to technology and automation, his “self-portraits of other people” have aged remarkably well. It’s hard not to see Ishida’s work as a warning from 20 years in the past, a prophecy from an artist who saw where the world was headed with startling clarity.


Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Cook this easy sheet-pan meal of miso-honey chicken and asparagus.

Store your clothes, even if you don’t have big closets.

Read about how to keep your kids safe online.

Gawk at Ralph Lauren’s spring 2024 looks (and the celebrities at the unveiling).

Play Spelling Bee. (If you’re stuck, the Bee Buddy can help.) And here’s the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

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

P.S. Do you know the recent screen versions of popular novels for young adults? Take our quiz to find out.

We welcome your feedback. You can reach us at [email protected].

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