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Your Tuesday Briefing: Xi Meets Putin in Moscow

todayMarch 20, 2023 5

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President Vladimir Putin welcomed Xi Jinping at the Kremlin yesterday and pledged that Russia would study China’s peace proposals for Ukraine “with respect.” But Xi did not mention Ukraine at all in his public remarks.

Though the war and the divides that it exposed hung over the meeting, the leaders focused on projecting unity and shoring up their countries’ overall relationship during the three-day summit.

“Dear friend, welcome to Russia,” Putin told Xi, who is the highest-profile world leader to visit since the invasion. Putin said that China took a “fair and balanced position on the majority of international problems.” Xi hailed the two nations as “good neighbors and reliable partners,” Russian state media said.

The state visit, which is being closely watched by Kyiv and its allies, underscores China’s increasingly close ties with Russia. The U.S. has warned that China could go even further than diplomatic or economic support for Russia, possibly by supplying weapons to use in the war.

A major U.N. climate report said that the Earth would most likely cross a critical global warming threshold within the next decade — unless countries made an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels. There is “a rapidly closing window of opportunity” to address climate change, the report said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which issued the report, said that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s.” Beyond that point, scientists say, the impacts of climate change — catastrophic heat waves, crop failures and species extinction — will become much harder for humanity to handle

To shift course, the report said, countries need to cut greenhouse gases by half by 2030 and stop emitting carbon dioxide altogether by the early 2050s. If those two steps were to be taken, the world would have about a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Practically, that means retiring fossil fuel infrastructure or canceling planned projects. It also means efforts like expanding wind and solar energies, making cities friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists and reducing food waste.

However, global fossil-fuel emissions set records last year, while China and the U.S. continue to approve new fossil fuel projects. Under the current policies, Earth’s temperature is estimated to heat up by 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius this century.

Analysis: “The report is sobering, gut-wrenching and above all, practical,” my colleague Somini Sengupta writes in our climate newsletter. “Its clearest takeaway: The continued use of fossil fuels is harming all of us, and harming some of us a lot more.”

The cost: Governments and companies would need to invest three to six times as much as they currently spend to hold global warming at 1.5 or 2 degrees, the report says.

Indian authorities have restricted communications in Punjab for a third day as a manhunt continues for Amritpal Singh, a Sikh separatist leader who has called for an independent Sikh homeland. Singh’s rapid rise in the public eye has stirred fears of violence in India’s only Sikh-majority state, which still has vivid memories of a deadly separatist insurgency. 

The search for Singh began on Saturday. Since then, the government has blocked the internet, restricted mobile communications and deployed thousands of paramilitary soldiers. The manhunt comes a month after Singh and hundreds of his supporters stormed a police station armed with swords and firearms, demanding the release of an aide. Six police officials were injured in the clash. 

History: For many in India, the clash was similar to the 1980s revolt in Punjab, when thousands were killed during an insurgency organized by Sikh separatists that raged for years.

Singh: The 30-year-old self-styled preacher has called for protecting Sikh rights against what he believed to be the overreach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government. He also implicitly threatened Amit Shah, the home minister.

Japan’s exotic animal cafes are popular selfie spots, but a survey found that many contain critically endangered species — and others banned from international trade.

Similar cafes have cropped up in other Asian countries. Critics say they could threaten wildlife conservation, animal welfare and public health.

Remote workers in the U.S. have fueled a surge in midday exercise and beauty treatments during the workweek. With new flexibility, they are opting to extend their leisure time into the afternoon, and tack on extra hours of work after dark — often with the blessing of their bosses.

For instance, a new study using geolocation data found that there were 278 percent more people playing golf at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday in August 2022 than in August 2019. One of the report’s authors said that the rise of afternoon leisure could have an under-examined role in driving the economic rebound since 2020.

“They’re not sneaking away,” the owner of a golf course in New Jersey said. “They’re getting the work done, just not at your typical hours.”

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Shortly before landing in Moscow on Monday, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, condemned the killing of nine Chinese nationals a day earlier at a gold mine in the Central African Republic, where tensions have flared between Chinese and Russian interests.Among competing claims about who was responsible — including one that blamed the Kremlin-backed Wagner mercenary group — Mr. Xi urged the authorities of the Central African Republic to bring the perpetrators […]

todayMarch 20, 2023 8