Your Wednesday Briefing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, President of Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and President Biden at COP26.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The second day of COP26 climate summit

National leaders at the COP26 climate summit agreed on two significant advances on climate change: promises to curb methane emissions and a deal to end deforestation by 2030.

But progress still fell well short of the big prize: securing aggressive commitments to reach net-zero carbon emissions globally, to slow the rising temperatures that have led to lethal fires, floods, droughts and heat waves around the world.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, can warm the atmosphere 80 times as fast as carbon dioxide in the short term. More than 90 countries agreed to limit it. Russia and China, despite abstaining from the methane pact, joined Brazil and more than 100 countries in pledging to end deforestation in the coming nine years. The pact encompasses about 85 percent of the world’s forests.

International relations: Biden criticized the efforts of China and Russia, whose leaders did not travel to the summit. “I think it’s been a big mistake for China” not to show up at the conference, he said. “They’ve lost their ability to influence people around the world, and people here at COP.”

Tigrayan fighters in June. Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Ethiopia calls on citizens to defend the capital

The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency yesterday and called on its citizens to pick up arms and prepare to defend the capital, Addis Ababa, as rebel forces from the northern region of Tigray pressed south toward the city following the capture of two key towns.

The Tigrayans, who have been fighting the government for the past year, have joined forces with another rebel group. The Ethiopian military suffered a major defeat when it was forced to withdraw from Tigray in June. Now the war is rapidly moving toward the capital.

Under the state of emergency, Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian leader, has sweeping powers to arrest and detain critics, impose curfews and restrict the news media. Any Ethiopian over 18 could be called into the fight, the justice minister said.

What’s next: Jeffrey Feltman, the Biden administration’s envoy to the Horn of Africa, said the deepening conflict could have “disastrous consequences” for Ethiopia’s unity and its ties to the U.S.

U.S. sanctions: President Biden said that he would revoke trade privileges to Ethiopia, citing “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

From left, Noelle Verbeeken, Lea Tavares Mujinga and Simone Ngalula, three of the women who are suing Belgium for crimes against humanity.Credit…Ksenia Kuleshova for The New York Times

Victims of colonial policy sue Belgium

Belgium has apologized for the kidnapping and deportation of thousands of mixed-race children born under its colonial rule of a vast territory in Africa that now includes Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Now, five survivors are seeking reparations.

The victims, the children of African mothers and European fathers, were sent to religious schools hundreds of miles from home, grew up in poverty and suffered from malnutrition and physical abuse. Now women in their 70s, their stories were recounted by lawyers on a recent morning in a small courtroom in Brussels packed with spectators.

The plaintiffs are each seeking compensation of 50,000 euros, about $55,000, and are suing the Belgian state for crimes against humanity for the segregationist policy that stripped them from their mothers — a system that endured from the end of the 19th century to Congo’s independence in 1960 and even after. A verdict is expected this month.

Background: Unions between African women and European men were forbidden under Belgian rule in Congo, and the authorities went to drastic lengths to ensure the primacy of white people.

Quotable: “For our shared history, a crime must lead to reparations,” said the granddaughter of one of the plaintiffs. “It’s just fundamental.”


Virus News

Credit…Shawn Rocco/Duke Health, via Reuters
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Inoculations could begin this week.

  • Russia recorded its highest number of daily Covid deaths, 1,178, on Tuesday.

  • China urged families to stock up on daily necessities for winter as stringent restrictions are put in place.

  • The U.S. ban on international visitors is set to end Monday, and it has kicked off a surge in travel. Here’s what to expect.

Around the World

Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
  • A new statute that punishes slander of China’s martyrs and heroes has been enforced with zeal. It has been used at least 15 times since March to punish people who have slighted Communist Party history.

  • At least 25 people were killed and more than a dozen wounded during an attack on a military hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

  • Men in the Gaza Strip often take out wedding loans worth nearly the average annual salary. Failure to repay means regularly enduring stints in a police jail — a common situation when nearly half of Gaza is unemployed.

What Else Is Happening

  • Facebook plans to delete face scan data from over a billion users, shutting down a facial recognition feature that became a privacy and regulatory headache.

  • The Atlanta Braves, after a middling regular season, beat the Houston Astros to win the World Series.

  • Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, said that the company had not yet signed a contract to sell Hertz 100,000 of its cars. The deal, which was announced last week, had sent stocks surging.

  • Because so many jobs depend on automaking, the car industry’s production problems are causing the pain to ripple.

A Morning Read

Credit…Glacier Archaeology Program, Innlandet County Council

As earth warms and glaciers melt away, long-frozen artifacts and animals are being revealed to archaeologists. But the window for study is slender, and shrinking.


Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

A six-hour opera epic

Cultural institutions have been trying to lure audiences back with shorter shows. Not the Metropolitan Opera.

The Met is staging the longest opera in its repertory, Wagner’s nearly six-hour “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” about love and music-making in medieval Germany. The show includes more than 400 artists and stagehands, breakneck set changes, fight scenes and two 40-minute intermissions.

“There’s always room for epics,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, told The Times. “There is always an appeal for huge events.”

For now, the audience has been slow to turn out. On opening night last week, a little more than half of the auditorium’s 3,700 seats were filled. On Saturday, about two-thirds of the seats were full.


What to Cook

Credit…Craig Lee for The New York Times

Five simple ingredients make for an exquisitely rich and elegant dessert.

What to Read

In “1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows,” the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei writes about family, exile and the inseparable nature of art and politics.

What to Watch

In a rising tide of animated series for adults, here are three cartoons worth catching.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Brown, bubbly drink (four letters).

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. A hidden haiku from a Times editor reflecting on his 20s: “Things happened for a / reason, preparing me for / the life I would lead.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about inflation in the U.S.

Claire Moses wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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