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U.N. Climate Report, Iran, Matteo Salvini: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering major threats to the world’s food supply, a British bookseller who will try to save an American chain and an equestrian gift from Mongolia.

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ImageCreditChina Daily/ReutersWorld’s food supply is at risk, U.N. warns

Land and water resources around the globe are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, threatening the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report, which was prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries, was released in summary form. It says that climate change will make the dangers even worse, as extreme weather threatens to disrupt and shrink the global food supply.

Food shortages could also increase cross-border migration, which is already redefining politics in North America, Europe and other regions. From 2010 to 2015, the number of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who came to the U.S. increased fivefold, coinciding with an unusually dry period that left many without enough food.

Solutions: Addressing the crisis would require a major re-evaluation of land use and agriculture as well as consumer behavior, the report suggests. Proposals include increasing the productivity of land and eating less meat.

Go deeper: Sign up for our Climate Fwd: email newsletter to receive our latest stories and insights about climate change.

Spy games in Iran’s embargoed oil industry

Information about Iran’s clandestine oil sales has become one of Tehran’s most heavily guarded state secrets — and a target of Western intelligence agencies.

Iran’s oil traders have been offered all kinds of enticements — including vacations, alcohol, prostitutes and astronomical sums of money — in exchange for coveted data. “Sometimes I feel like I am an actor playing in a thriller spy movie,” one trader said.

Backlash: Last month, Iran arrested 17 people it said were working for the C.I.A., sentencing some of them to death. It now appears the suspects were involved in efforts to gather intelligence on oil sales.

Bottom line: Iran’s economy depends on oil, but U.S. sanctions have reduced sales to about 500,000 barrels, from 2.5 million barrels in 2018.

ImageCreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesIs the U.S. headed for another nuclear arms race?

The nuclear treaties negotiated during the Cold War are being abandoned by the U.S. and Russia, just as new strategic competitors not covered by the Cold War accords — like China, North Korea and Iran — are asserting themselves as regional powers and challenging American hegemony.

The dismantling of “arms control,” a Cold War mantra, is now heightening the risks of a new era.

Context: Nuclear powers like India and Pakistan are clashing over Kashmir. Nuclear Israel feels threatened by Iran, North Korea is testing new missiles, and other countries like Saudi Arabia are thought to have access to nuclear weapons or to be capable of building them.

The consequence, experts say, is likely to be a more dangerous and unstable environment.

Quotable: “If there’s not nuclear disarmament, there will be proliferation,” said one nuclear analyst.

Related: A fire that broke out at a weapons testing range in northern Russia killed two people, briefly raised radiation levels and prompted the authorities to prohibit shipping and sailing in parts of the White Sea for a month, according to officials and news media reports.

ImageSalvini announces government coalition is over

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister, took a break from weeks on the beach on Thursday to go to Rome and announce that he’d had enough of his coalition government with the populist Five Star Movement. Less a love affair than a marriage of convenience, they were over.

The crisis could make Mr. Salvini, who has moved the seat of Italian government to the beach chair in recent weeks, the next prime minister. “They gave me a hard time because I went on vacation in Milano Marittima,” he said.

What’s next: The announcement could potentially set the stage for elections in the fall, which would mean a summer full of Mr. Salvini’s favorite activity — campaigning — in the country’s beloved beach clubs, seashores and vacation villages.

If you have 24 minutes, this is worth itCan Britain’s top bookseller save an American bookstore?ImageCreditSuzie Howell for The New York Times

James Daunt, the head of the book giant Waterstones, fought Amazon and rescued Britain’s biggest bookstore chain.

As Mr. Daunt, the new chief executive of Barnes & Noble, commences his overhaul of the American book behemoth, he will again try to turn a large chain into what looks and feels like a collection of independent bookstores.

Here’s what else is happening

Uber: The ride-share giant reported its largest-ever loss, exceeding $5 billion, and its slowest-ever revenue growth, renewing questions about the company’s prospects.

U.S. gun debate: After two mass shootings over the weekend, background checks for gun purchases will be “front and center” in a coming Senate debate, Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, said.

SoulCycle: The home of the spinning craze — where classes are around $40 each — is facing boycotts at its U.S. locations as the investor whose company owns majority stakes in SoulCycle and the luxury gym Equinox plans to host a fund-raiser at his Hamptons home for President Trump today.

Jeffrey Epstein case: A senior JPMorgan executive overrode concerns about doing business with the financier because of his lucrative role recruiting new customers, sources told The Times.

Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro has suspended mediated talks with his country’s opposition movement, to protest the Trump administration’s latest sanctions.

Israel: A yeshiva student and aspiring soldier was found stabbed to death in the West Bank, setting off a large-scale hunt for the assailant by the Israeli Army, which was treating the killing as a terrorist attack.

ImageCreditChimgee Tuvdendagva/Associated Press

Snapshot: Above, Marshall, the horse presented to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on Thursday. It is the third time a defense secretary has named a horse in the country.

Manchester City: The team will open its campaign to win a third straight Premier League title on Saturday, and it looks unbeatable — but some coaches are planning for just how to change that. “You have to be perfect to beat them,” Rafael Benítez, the former manager of Newcastle, said. “But even if you are perfect, they can still beat you.”

Abbey Road anniversary: About 50 years ago, the Beatles walked the famous crossing in London for one of their most famous photos, taken for the cover of the album “Abbey Road.” Hundreds of Beatles fans and look-alikes turned out to celebrate the anniversary of the shoot.

What we’re reading: This Guardian article about how wild boars are wreaking havoc in European cities. Our food editor, Sam Sifton, recommended it in The Times’s Cooking newsletter — and also offered a recipe for wild boar ragù.

Now, a break from the newsImageCreditLinda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Cook: Mint chocolate chip ice cream cake is a crowd-pleasing dessert.

Watch: A Times writer looks back at the raunchy coming-of-age film “Superbad” and finds it still (mostly) holds up. But she may have loved it for the wrong reason.

Listen: NF emerged from the Christian rap scene with Eminem-esque pop hits. Now he has the No. 1 album in the U.S.

Go: The Greek island of Zakynthos boasts plenty of Instagram-friendly hot spots, but its true charm is more evident in its tranquil villages and less crowded coves.

Smarter Living: Before you buy household items like lamps, books, toys, furniture and clothes, think about the inevitable moment you won’t need them anymore. Martin Bourque, who directs an ecology center in Berkeley, Calif., says consumers should “be thinking about what you’re going to do with the item at the end of its life” — and whether “you really need it in the first place.” When the end comes, you can often swap, donate or sell it to someone else.

Catching up on housework this weekend? We can show you how to fold a fitted sheet.

And now for the Back Story on …The power of water

Last week, we told you about “Add oil!” — a Cantonese exhortation popular among the antigovernment protesters in Hong Kong. Next up: “Be water,” a rallying cry and protest tactic with ties to a local hero.

The phrase — a famous line from a 1971 episode of the American television series “Longstreet” — was uttered by Bruce Lee, the actor and martial-arts icon who hailed from Hong Kong. “Water can flow, or creep, or drip or crash,” Mr. Lee’s character says in the episode. “Be water, my friend.”


In Chinese Taoism, water represents power and flexibility in the face of obstacles. Many Hong Kong protesters see “Be water” as a guiding principle of their flash-mob-style civil disobedience, forsaking hierarchical leadership and fixed protests in favor of decentralized, amorphous tactics.

A bronze statue of Mr. Lee, who died in 1973, still stands on Avenue of Stars, along the Hong Kong waterfront, and a local fan club has long wanted to turn his former home into a museum. But the trust that owns the home plans to demolish it as early as this week and replace it with a Chinese studies center.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Mike Ives, a Hong Kong-based reporter, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about President Trump’s trips to Ohio and Texas this week.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Mixologist’s creation (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The first reference to the actor Bruce Lee in The New York Times came in a 1971 review of “Longstreet,” which noted that he “emerges impressively enough to justify a series of his own.”


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