Your Thursday Briefing
A coal-fired power plant in Bogatynia, Poland. Credit…David W Cerny/Reuters
An international deal to end coal use
A coalition of 18 countries, plus dozens of banks and other institutions, will pledge to phase out coal-fired power plants domestically and to end funding for international coal projects. The burning of coal is the single greatest contributor to climate change, and ending support for it has been a key focus at the U.N. climate change conference COP26.
The new campaign, which is expected to be announced by British officials today in Glasgow, declares that the end of coal “is in sight” because of the new coalition. The group will commit to ending all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally. The time frame was not specified.
The agreement also promises a “just transition away from coal power in a way that benefits workers and communities” and a rapid scaling up of the deployment of clean energy like wind and solar power.
Details: The full list of 18 countries includes developed and developing countries like Poland, Vietnam, Egypt, Chile and Morocco, according to the British government. It was unclear whether the U.S. was part of the agreement.
Islamic State poses a growing threat in Afghanistan
In the two months since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the local Islamic State affiliate — known as ISIS-K — has stepped up attacks across the country, with at least 54 attacks between Sept. 18 and Oct. 28. After spending 20 years fighting as an insurgency, the Taliban now find themselves struggling to deliver on their promises of law and order.
The attacks have killed at least 90 people in key cities like Kunduz and Kandahar in recent weeks. They have mostly been directed at Taliban units and minority Shiite Muslims. Western officials worry that the Islamic State could gain the capability to strike international targets in six to 12 months.
For Western intelligence communities, a core concern is an inability to measure the Taliban’s effectiveness against ISIS-K because of a dearth of information. Limited drone flights provide piecemeal information, and the established network of informants has collapsed.
More from Afghanistan: An investigation of the Aug. 29 airstrike by the U.S., which mistakenly killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, did not recommend any disciplinary action.
Authorization granted for an Indian Covid vaccine
The W.H.O. granted emergency authorization to Covaxin, the first coronavirus vaccine developed in India to receive the designation. The move provides a major boost for Narendra Modi, the country’s prime minister, who has stressed his intention to make India’s pandemic prevention effort self-reliant.
Developed by Bharat Biotech, an Indian drug company, and the Indian Council of Medical Research, a government body, Covaxin is the eighth coronavirus vaccine to receive the global health body’s green light. The W.H.O. said that the vaccine had a 78 percent efficacy rate against Covid-19 and should be administered in two doses four weeks apart.
The authorization comes after a lengthy review period; the manufacturers applied in April and provided the first batch of data to the agency on July 6, addressing a host of issues, including safety and efficacy. The vaccine had been administered to millions of people before the data was released, prompting concerns that it might be ineffective.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
The campaign to vaccinate young children in the U.S. against Covid has begun.
The Netherlands has expanded mask requirements to curb rising cases.
Did Covid change how we dream?
THE LATEST NEWS
Virginia elected a Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, above, for the first time in more than a decade. The results are being seen as a sign of voter dissatisfaction with President Biden ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when hundreds of seats in Congress will be up for grabs.
Shaken by the results, Democrats are pushing forward on Biden’s social policy and climate bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes for a Friday vote and has added four weeks of paid leave to the bill.
During a Supreme Court argument, justices asked questions that were skeptical of a New York gun control law.
Inflation worries led the Federal Reserve to slow a bond-buying program that helped buoy the economy during the pandemic.
Around the World
The Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accused a former vice premier of China of sexual assault, the first time a #MeToo allegation has touched the highest levels of Communist Party power.
A U.N. report found that all sides in the war in Ethiopia had committed gross human rights violations, including killings of civilians, sexual violence and attacks on refugees.
China could have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, according to the annual U.S. assessment of the Chinese military, but the expansion would still leave Beijing behind the U.S. and Russia.
What Else Is Happening
Knopf plans to publish a memoir by the movie star Paul Newman next year based on hours of recordings he left behind, as well as interviews with family, friends and associates.
The venerable Olympic sport of modern pentathlon is set to drop equestrian jumping from the event, after claims of animal abuse.
Meet the fearsome fish that loses 20 teeth each day, then grows them all back.
A Morning Read
A devoted corps of users has kept the world of Neopets, where magical creatures have been reared since 1999, afloat. Droves of pandemic-era nostalgia seekers have joined them.
“Recently, the site feels like the one place on the internet that can be an escape,” one user said.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Like it’s the 1930s
This movie season, black and white films are everywhere. Kyle Buchanan spoke with the cinematographers behind three major monochromatic features to examine the trend.
A new spin on Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” is shot in a claustrophobic aspect ratio rarely used since the 1950s. “It’s meant to bring theatricality and to lose temporality,” the cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel said. “It’s not about the 1700s, and it’s not about Scotland, either. We’re giving an abstraction.”
The technique can also have a narrative purpose, as it does in “Passing,” above, based on the 1929 novel of the same name, which follows two light-skinned Black women, one of whom has been passing for white. In a scene where the friends are reunited, the movie’s cinematographer, Eduard Grau, flooded the shots with white light. “We didn’t want to clearly show to the audience at first whether our characters were white or Black or mixed race,” Grau said. “Everything is so bright that it’s difficult to tell.”
One of the strengths of black and white “is not to tell you how a person or place looks, but how they feel,” said Haris Zambarloukos, the cinematographer for “Belfast,” about a boy in Northern Ireland in the turbulent 1960s. “It has a transcendental quality to be of the past and the present. It’s realistic, but it has a certain magical sense to it as well.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
This yogurt cake is from “Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean,” the latest book from a doyenne of food writing. Read our profile.
What to Read
Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize for “The Promise,” a depiction of a white family in post-apartheid South Africa.
What to Listen To
Take five minutes to fall in love with Bach.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Choice when ordering wings (five 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. The Times now has one million digital subscribers outside the U.S. Take a look at our reporting from around the world.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about COP26.
Sanam Yar wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].