Analysis & Comment

Your Tuesday Briefing

We’re covering Afghanistan’s food shortage crisis and a missile test in North Korea.

A million children in Afghanistan could die, U.N. warns

United Nations officials warned that millions of Afghans could run out of food before the arrival of winter and one million children could die if a food shortage is not quickly addressed.

“After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, they face perhaps their most perilous hour,” Secretary General António Guterres said at a U.N. conference in Geneva. He said the international community pledged more than $1 billion in emergency funding at the event.

Efforts to dole out much-needed help are complicated by the lack of international aid workers. Many have fled the country out of safety concerns, and those who remain are unsure if they will be able to continue their work. The U.N. has pressed the Taliban to allow aid workers to go about their business safely.

Without enough aid, the health care system is on the brink of collapse, public health experts warned.

Context: Even before the Taliban took control, Afghanistan was stricken by a drought. The World Food Program estimates that 40 percent of crops are lost, and the price of wheat has gone up by 25 percent.

Delta outbreaks hit Asia

Thailand and Vietnam, two countries whose economies rely largely on tourism, are pushing to reopen their travel industries despite surges in coronavirus cases and outbreaks of the Delta variant.

Vietnam, which recently opened the island of Phu Quoc to fully vaccinated overseas tourists, is recording a daily average of 12,724 new cases, with just 4.9 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

In Thailand, fully vaccinated tourists can go to Bangkok and other popular destinations starting in October. The country is reporting about 14,000 new daily cases. In 2020, it registered fewer than 100 Covid-related deaths, but the toll in 2021 already exceeds 12,000.

Even in countries with fewer cases, Delta has been hard to tackle: China’s Fujian province reported 22 new locally transmitted infections, the country’s largest outbreak in a month. While the case count is far below many other countries, the number reflects what health experts have long warned: that it is probably nearly impossible to completely eradicate the Delta variant, and that Beijing needs to rethink its zero-Covid strategy.

Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert specializing in China, recently wrote in our Opinion section that “China can’t afford to keep its borders closed forever.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

New York City’s classrooms reopened on Monday to roughly a million children, most of whom were returning for the first time since the school system, the largest in the United States, closed in March 2020.

Australia opened up Covid vaccinations to children as young as 12.

North Korea’s missile test

The country’s state news agency said on Monday that it​ had successfully launched long-range cruise missiles in its first missile test in six months, as Pyongyang continues to refine its arsenal while nuclear disarmament talks with the U.S. are stalled.

The missiles hit targets 1,500 kilometers away on Sunday after flying more than two hours and changing their trajectories in flight, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

What it means: U.N. resolutions ban North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missiles, but not cruise missiles. The nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, who usually supervises all major weapons tests, did not make an appearance.

THE LATEST NEWS

Asia News

Typhoon Chanthu moved up China’s coast on Monday after bringing heavy rain and wind to Taiwan, CNN reports. Shanghai suspended flights and closed parts of its busy ports.

Japan warned its citizens to stay away from crowds and religious facilities in six Southeast Asian countries, because of risks of suicide bombings, The A.P. reports.

Around the World

U.S. President Biden campaigned with Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, who is trying to head off a recall vote on Tuesday.

Daniil Medvedev won the U.S. Open men’s title, ending Novak Djokovic’s quest to win all four majors in one year. Emma Raducanu, the 18-year-old British phenom, won the women’s singles final.

Finally, a woolly mammoth start-up: A Harvard biologist has been leading a small team of moonlighting researchers developing the tools for reviving the extinct beasts. With $15 million in private funding, his company, Colossal, aims to bring thousands back to Siberia.

A Morning Read

Twenty years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. is still grappling with the consequences of brutal interrogations. Studies have shown that using torture is fruitless or counterproductive, and the country has abandoned it.

But the use of torture is complicating efforts to bring the men who are accused of plotting the attacks to justice. Over a decade of court proceedings, defense lawyers have put the C.I.A. on trial, and have sought to portray evidence against the men as a product of torture and therefore unreliable.

ARTS AND IDEAS

The Met Gala returns

The Met Gala, the exclusive black-tie extravaganza known as the Oscars of the East Coast, is back tonight. The major fashion event kicks off a blockbuster exhibition at the museum’s Costume Institute, which focuses on American fashion this year.

Another unofficial theme is youth, Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic for The Times, writes. Many of the designers are young, as are the hosts: the presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, the actor Timothée Chalamet, the tennis champion Naomi Osaka and the pop star Billie Eilish.

For more on who gets to go, what they might wear and how to watch the red carpet, read Vanessa’s explainer.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

Drizzle lemony roasted fish with caper-infused brown butter.

What to Read

In Wendy Guerra’s book “I Was Never the First Lady,” the protagonist sets out to find the mother who abandoned her, and Cuba, long ago.

Home

Here are tips for doing laundry more efficiently.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Adventure story (four letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina

P.S. The Times introduced a new head of Talent and Acquisition, Tuvia Lwowski.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on U.S. vaccine mandates.

Sanam Yar wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].

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