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Beirut, Hong Kong, Climate Change: Your Friday Briefing

2020-08-06 21:46:04
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Good morning.

We’re covering growing anger at Lebanon’s government after the Beirut explosion, a surge in virus cases in France and Germany and the pain inflicted by extreme heat from climate change.

International rescue teams arrived in Beirut on Thursday, as the nation entered a period of official mourning over the huge explosion that has brought the Lebanese capital to its knees.

Among those charged were Lee Cheuk-yan, a veteran organizer of the vigils; Joshua Wong, a prominent activist; and Gwyneth Ho, a former journalist. They were accused of “knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly.” Mr. Lee, a former lawmaker, faced an additional charge of “holding an unauthorized assembly” after he and several other leaders urged others to join the commemoration.

Mr. Wong and Ms. Ho were among a dozen pro-democracy candidates, including sitting lawmakers, who had been disqualified from running in legislative elections recently moved from September to next year.

Quotable: “I feel the pressure. I am overloaded with charges,” Mr. Lee said in an interview. “Even if you’re peaceful and nonviolent, they’d still want to stifle and suppress peaceful assemblies.”

Snapshot: Above, Giuseppe Paternò, 96, fulfilling his lifelong dream of getting a university degree at the University of Palermo after being sidetracked by poverty, World War II and family commitments.

What we’re reading: This article from The Los Angeles Times on the story of Bruce’s Beach. “This look at what happened to a beach popular with Black residents back in the day — in one of the whitest towns in Los Angeles — tells so much about the struggle for Black people to even enjoy themselves,” writes Randy Archibold, our Sports editor.

Cook: Lift your family’s spirits with this blueberry Bundt cake, a showstopping treat adorned with a jewel-toned glaze.

Listen: We asked artists including Ivo van Hove, Justin Peck, Du Yun and others to share their favorite works from music of the past 20 years. Here are their picks from 21st-century composers.

Do: Seeds are in high demand these days, so gardeners may want to plan ahead for the next growing season. Here are some tips for saving the easiest seed varieties.

Looking for help in staying safe at home? Our At Home collection has lots more ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do.

Nearly everywhere, heat waves are more frequent and last longer than they did 70 years ago. And it’s worse for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Somini Sengupta, our international climate reporter, spoke to the Briefings team about a special report prepared with photographers on one of the most dangerous and stealthiest hazards of the modern era.

How did you select which cities or countries to spotlight?

Somini: I have seen over the last couple of years the impact of what is truly a global problem. Global warming is not equal — the problem of warming and extreme heat is really felt by people who are already the most vulnerable, not just because it gets super hot where they live but because they’re already vulnerable in other ways: They may be in poor health, they may be farmers who depend entirely on the rains and so a little change in rainfall or extremely hot dry periods affect them, and because they may not be able to afford the most basic luxury to cope with the heat, like having enough water or electricity around the clock so they can turn on a fan, let alone having access to air-conditioning.

I wanted to show what’s happening now. It’s certainly projected to get worse in the future, but people are dealing with unbearably hot and humid conditions right now.

Was there any research that really stuck out?

One study said episodes of extreme heat and levels the human body cannot tolerate have more than doubled in frequency since 1979. South Asia and the southeastern coast of the U.S. have been hardest hit by this already.

People can often look at climate news and feel helpless. What sort of actionable things were experts saying could be done?

Draw down the combustion of fossil fuels. The world is capable of getting off coal in many instances, capable of vastly reducing the burning of oil and gas. The world also has to adjust to the extreme heat we’re seeing already.

It means expanding access to ways to cool down, whether that’s access to air-conditioners or fans or more trees to bring down temperatures in the city, access to water. It could also mean adjusting things you might not immediately think of, like labor laws so people don’t have to work for hours under the blistering sun, agricultural changes in farming methods, or what is grown in what place to adapt to higher temperatures and longer dry seasons.

In short, it requires doing everything pretty differently.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Carole


Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. Sanam Yar wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at
[email protected].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is a conversation with one of our correspondents in Beirut, who was injured in the huge explosion at the city’s port on Tuesday.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “The Fox and the Grapes” storyteller (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “Dominic Fike, at First,” a new Times documentary on the making of a pop star, premieres today on FX and Hulu.

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