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Thursday Briefing

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On a tour of a wind turbine factory in Colorado, President Biden rebuked conservative opponents who had characterized his climate policies as “a massive failure.” But even as he stressed the importance of an economy built on clean energy, the president said little about climate change, just days after declining to attend COP28, the U.N. climate summit in Dubai, which begins today.

Instead, Vice President Kamala Harris will attend COP28 tomorrow and Saturday. She plans to “underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s success in delivering on the most ambitious climate agenda in history, both at home and abroad,” a spokeswoman said.

Lisa Friedman, a reporter for The Times, is covering the conference, the 12th one she has attended.

What will you be watching this time around?

Lisa: There are a number of important things set to take place, including a global assessment of how successful nations have been in meeting the climate targets they set in Paris in 2015 and finalizing the details of a new fund to help vulnerable countries cope with the loss and damage caused by global warming.

But the big thing I’ll have my eye on is the political agreement nations are debating around phasing out fossil fuels.

Of the two main issues — the “loss and damage” fund and a deal to replace fossil fuels with clean energy — which is most likely to be finalized?

Lisa: The “loss and damage” fund has a deadline to be operational by the end of COP28, and it seems likely at this stage that it will happen. In early November, the U.S. signed off on draft U.N. guidelines that stipulate that the fund will be housed at the World Bank for at least four years. Neither developed countries nor anyone else would be obliged to pay into the fund.

As for the energy transition, I think most people expect there to be an agreement. It’s just a question of how ambitious it will be.

Henry Kissinger, the scholar-turned-diplomat who engineered the U.S.’s opening to China, negotiated its exit from Vietnam and used cunning, ambition and intellect to remake American power relationships with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, sometimes trampling on democratic values to do so, has died at 100.

Few diplomats have been both celebrated and reviled with such passion as Kissinger, who advised 12 presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Joe Biden. A German-Jewish refugee, he transformed almost every global relationship he touched, speaking with a lifelong Bavarian accent that sometimes added an indecipherable element to his pronouncements.

From the archives: In 2011, Kissinger sat down with The Times to discuss the perils of diplomacy past and present.


Minutes before the deadline, Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their cease-fire in the Gaza Strip for at least one more day. Officials with knowledge of the talks said they also hoped that the succession of short-term pauses would pave the way toward a longer-term cease-fire to bring the war to a close.

Achieving that is no easy task. Israeli officials have vowed not to stop their military campaign until Hamas’s leadership has been eliminated and the group’s military and governance infrastructure is uprooted from Gaza, objectives that remain remote.

Hamas last night released 16 people who had been held hostage in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli authorities said, pushing the number of freed captives past 100, of whom 70 are Israelis. In return, Israel a few hours later set free 30 more Palestinian prisoners. The exchanges so far have focused on women and children.

Details: The Israeli military said that more than 140 hostages remained in Gaza. Many of them are soldiers or men young enough to be called up for military service. Hamas officials have said it will demand a higher price for releasing people in those categories.

The opera star Maria Callas, who would have turned 100 on Dec. 2, gave the genre’s melodramas a startling sense of reality and her characters profound psychological depths, Zachary Woolfe, The Times’s classical music critic, writes in this appraisal.

“She and her flash of a career,” he writes, “remain a beacon of artistic integrity and profundity — of the cultivation of tradition and craft, of a desire to bring the past to bear on the present — in a culture that values those qualities less and less.”

New soccer stadiums: Why do they cost so much to build?

The overhead kick: Alan Shearer explores the biomechanical beauty of the skill.

Tennis’s “premier tour” revolution: Inside the deal that could transform the sport.

Gymnastics: The weighing of athletes will be restricted in Britain after reports of abuse in the sport.

Paddington is the busiest bear in Hollywood, appearing opposite Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro. He even slipped on a spacesuit for “Interstellar.”

But his prominence has nothing to do with a promotional schedule. It’s because every day since 2021, the artist Jason Chou has digitally inserted the anthropomorphized star into scenes from popular films and television shows. He has no plans to stop.

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