We’re covering violence in Beirut and a high-stakes meeting to stop biodiversity collapse.
Beirut rocked by sectarian fighting
At least six people were killed and dozens were injured during clashes between militias that briefly turned Beirut neighborhoods into a war zone on Thursday. Here are the latest updates.
The violence broke out at a protest led by two Shiite Muslim parties — Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. The protesters were calling for the removal of the judge charged with investigating the huge explosion at the Beirut port last year.
The fighting marked a new low in Lebanon’s descent into political and economic crises.
Conflict: The Sunnis, Shiites and Christians are Lebanon’s largest religious groups, and tensions between denominations and Hezbollah have often spilled into violence, most catastrophically during the country’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.
Context: Lebanon’s currency has collapsed, battering the economy. Bitter infighting among officials has stymied a path forward. The explosion at the Beirut port exposed the results of what many Lebanese see as decades of poor governance.
The other big crisis we hear little about
A high-level meeting is underway this week as part of an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.
The U.N. biodiversity conference seeks to tackle the rapid collapse of species and systems that collectively sustain life on Earth, and comes ahead of the global climate summit in Glasgow, beginning Oct. 31.
The stakes at the two meetings are equally high, many leading scientists say, but the biodiversity crisis has received far less attention. Humans have destroyed land through farming, mining, logging, overfishing and more. Scientists say transformational change is needed.
Quotable: “If the global community continues to see it as a side event, and they continue thinking that climate change is now the thing to really listen to, by the time they wake up on biodiversity it might be too late,” said Francis Ogwal, one of the leaders of the working group charged with shaping an agreement among nations.
Details: The average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes has fallen by at least 20 percent, mostly since 1900, according to a major report on the state of the world’s biodiversity. Lose too many players in an ecosystem, and it will stop working.
Biden expresses optimism about the fight against Covid
President Biden warned that the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t yet over, but said that the U.S. “was headed in the right direction.” He called on states and private businesses to support vaccine mandates in an effort to avoid another surge in cases.
“We have critical work to do and we can’t let up now,” Biden said in a speech at the White House on Thursday. “I’m calling on more business to step up. I’m calling on more parents to get their children vaccinated when they are eligible.”
He projected optimism amid a drop in new cases compared to a devastating summer wave.
The numbers: The U.S. is now recording roughly 90,000 new infections a day, down more than 40 percent since August. Hospitalizations and deaths are also falling. Nearly 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, and many children under 12 are likely to be eligible for their shots in a matter of weeks.
A new cable car and hundreds of giant murals have brightened lives in one of the most crime-ridden areas of Mexico City, but poverty and attacks against women are still pervasive. Many wonder if the beautification project will be enough to change the sense of danger.
ARTS AND IDEAS
What Jane Goodall is reading
The primatologist talked to our Books desk about what she’s learned from reading.
What books are on your night stand?
“The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West,” to remind me to reread. It is brilliant and I know the author, Imran Ahmad. And “Cult: Following My Escape and Return to the Children of God,” by Bexy Cameron. I skimmed it and it is an extraordinary and chillingly true autobiography.
By the end of a day of Zooms and Skypes and emails my eyes are too tired to read, so I turn to audiobooks. I need something soothing. Like an Agatha Christie.
What’s the last great book you read?
Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” — the author has created another world that becomes totally real even as the story grips you.
Was reading a big part of your life during the decades that you lived among wild chimpanzees? What books, or what kinds of books, did you read in that period?
I read no books, as I was utterly focused on first finding, then observing the chimpanzees, and in the evening transcribing my field notes. Every day up in the mountains at dawn, back at dusk.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
There was no TV when I was a child. I learned from books — and nature. I read every book about animals I could find. Doctor Dolittle and Tarzan led me to dream about living with animals in Africa.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook