Friday Briefing: A Call for Answers in Libya

A view of the damage in Derna, Libya yesterday.Credit…Abdullah Doma/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Calls for answers in Libya as rescue efforts falter

A top Libyan official demanded an investigation late on Wednesday, three days after two dams collapsed, causing major floods that destroyed most of the city of Derna and ravaged other coastal towns, leaving thousands dead and thousands more missing.

Mohamed al-Menfi, the head of the Libyan Presidential Council, based in the divided country’s west, said in a social media post that “everyone who made a mistake or neglected either in abstaining or taking actions that resulted in the collapse of the dams in the city of Derna” would be held accountable.

It was unclear how an investigation would be conducted and how much accountability Libyans could hope to see in a country where infrastructure has been allowed to degrade as rival authorities have jockeyed for power for more than a decade.

As officials called for answers, the relief effort was faltering. Yesterday, the health minister for the eastern government said that toll has risen to 3,065 documented dead. On Wednesday night, the mayor of Derna told the Al Arabiya television station that the death toll could reach 20,000, based on the number of districts wiped out.

A volunteer working in a relief effort said the response was unorganized and uncoordinated. “Unfortunately in Libya we suffer from a lack of crisis management. There is none.”

With many health facilities either out of service or overwhelmed, the W.H.O. said it was preparing an airlift with 28 tons of surgical and medical supplies to take off from Dubai in the next 48 hours.

What’s next: The Libyan authorities announced a joint operation room to oversee the response. The interior minister of the government in eastern Libya, Essam Abu Zeriba, explained the plan, saying the joint effort would work in cooperation with the security forces.

Drone footage offers a heart-wrenching look at what’s left of the city of Derna.

A photograph released by North Korean state media of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un in Russia this week.Credit…Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Putin will visit North Korea

President Vladimir Putin of Russia will visit North Korea, accepting an invitation from the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, the Kremlin said yesterday, after the two leaders held a summit in far eastern Russia on Wednesday.

North Korea has leveraged the war in Ukraine to elevate its standing with Russia. And to support its war effort against Ukraine, Moscow needs ammunition and military equipment, which North Korea has in abundance.

History turns upside down: Washington and Moscow flooded the Korean Peninsula with arms and aid during the Korean War, which never officially ended after a 1953 cease-fire. ​Both Koreas have since engaged in an arms race, and are now in a position to supply their former benefactors.

Other developments in the war:

  • The Ukrainian military said yesterday that it hit Russian surface-to-air missile defense systems near Yevpatoriya, in western Crimea, after a strike against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Wednesday.

  • The U.S. imposed a raft of new sanctions targeting Russia’s military supply chains, penalizing more than 150 companies and individuals said to be profiting from the war.

Hunter Biden outside the federal courthouse in Wilmington, Del., in July.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Hunter Biden indicted on gun charges

Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, was charged yesterday with three criminal counts connected to his illegal purchase of a handgun in 2018, a move that may put him on trial next year as his father runs for re-election.

The charges, which came after the last-minute collapse of a plea deal that would have shielded Hunter Biden from prison, are related to whether he lied about his drug use on a government form during the purchase. The indictment comes as House Republicans are stepping up their efforts to use Hunter Biden’s work abroad to build a case for impeaching his father.

For more: Hunter Biden, now 53, has acknowledged a decades-long addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine. Here’s a timeline of his life and legal troubles.

A close relationship: Despite the potential political fallout, allies of the president say his bond with his son is ironclad.


U.S. News

  • NASA announced that it had appointed a research director to collect and interpret data on U.F.O.s. The official’s identity will be kept secret.

  • Workers at three automakers are expected to go on strike today — a major disruption at a time when the companies are contending with the transition to electric vehicles.

  • For the first time, the C.I.A. released the identity of a second spy who helped rescue U.S. diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

Around the World

The number of migrants moving through the Darién Gap has never been greater.Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times
  • The Darién Gap is the only land route to the U.S. from South America, and politicians and prominent businessmen are making millions by charging migrants for passage.

  • A U.S. Senate committee passed a bill that would end double taxation between the U.S. with Taiwan.

  • Spanish women’s soccer players called off their strike after reaching an agreement on minimum pay.

  • Shares of Arm, the British chip designer, soared 25 percent as they began trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the year’s biggest initial public offering.

  • Investigators seized three works by the painter Egon Schiele, believed to have been stolen from a Jewish art collector killed during the Holocaust, from American museums.

  • A luxury cruise ship that was stuck off the coast of Greenland for three days was pulled free yesterday.

Other Big Stories

  • The leader of this year’s COP28 climate summit is an executive who runs both a sustainable-energy firm and the United Arab Emirates’ national oil company.

  • The psychedelic drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, is inching closer to approval as a PTSD treatment in the U.S.

A Morning Read

Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Khalida Popal, the former captain of the Afghanistan women’s national soccer team, helped save over two hundred people, including the entire senior national team, from the Taliban.

Now she is on another mission: trying to convince FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, to let her exiled teammates — who are now living in Australia — represent their country again after the Taliban barred girls and women from playing sports.


Credit…Thea Traff for The New York Times

The Rolling Stones start up again

“Hackney Diamonds,” due Oct. 20, is both a new blast and a summing up. It digs into the Rolling Stones’ long-established style: Keith Richards’s sinewy guitar riffs, Mick Jagger’s proudly intemperate vocals, and the band’s bluesy underpinnings and ever-improvisatory guitar interplay.

“Without improvisation, it wouldn’t be anything in the first place, Richards said. “I mean, there are no rules to rock ’n’ roll. That’s the reason it’s there.”

The songs are unapologetically hand-played and organic, our chief pop music critic, Jon Pareles, writes. They’re not quantized onto a computer grid; they speed up and slow down with a human pulse. And the album honors the band’s elder-statesman status, drawing guest appearances from Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and Elton John.


Credit…Kate Sears for The New York Times

Make chile crisp fettuccine Alfredo with spinach for a satisfying meatless one-dish dinner.

Watch a bingeable, soapy thriller.

Plant a sustainable lawn that you can still trample.

Wear a luxury bridal robe embellished with feathers and sequins as a pre-wedding look.

Play the Spelling Bee. (If you’re stuck, the Bee Buddy can help.) Here’s the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you Monday. — Justin

P.S. Sarah Goldstein, Sergio Gonzalez and Oskar Garcia will become new editorial directors at The Athletic.

We welcome your feedback. Send us your suggestions at [email protected].

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