Your Thursday Briefing

We’re covering a scramble for coal in China and the global supply shortage.

“The stocks are low, much lower than they should be,” an energy specialist said. “And they’re panicking for winter.”Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A rush for coal in China as power shortages spread

China’s electricity shortage is rippling across factories and industries. Authorities announced on Wednesday a rush to mine and burn more coal in response, despite their previous pledges to curb emissions.

Mines that were closed without authorization have been ordered to reopen, along with mines and coal-fired power plants that were shut for repairs. Local governments have been warned to be cautious about limits on energy use.

The shortage laid bare a strategic weakness: China is a voracious energy hog and the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It also called into question whether Beijing can deliver strong economic growth.

Context: China depends on inefficient factories in energy-hungry industries like steel, cement and chemicals, but it practically stopped new coal investments in 2016 amid sustainability concerns. With rising demand as the pandemic eases, prices have jumped. Power plants were losing money, so they ran at lower capacity.

What’s next: The winter heating season officially begins on Friday in the country’s northeast. China’s biggest provinces have only nine to 14 days worth of coal in storage, according to a coal data firm.

Students lined up to receive the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine in Nanjing, China, in August.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China opens boosters to high-risk residents

Chinese authorities are rolling out third shots of coronavirus vaccines for high-risk groups in at least 10 regions, according to state media, as the country races to meet its goal of fully vaccinating 80 percent of its population by the end of the year.

After outbreaks of the Delta variant, Wang Huaqing, China’s top immunization official, recommended last month that additional shots be administered to people in frontline professions, including medical workers; people with weaker immune systems; those age 60 or older; and travelers to high-risk countries.

A W.H.O. panel of experts on Monday recommended that an additional dose be administered to people over 60 who were inoculated with vaccines made by the Chinese companies Sinopharm and Sinovac.

Despite its high vaccination rate, China has shown no signs of abandoning its “zero Covid” strategy, and has continued to use a mix of strict border controls, mass testing and snap lockdowns.

Details: Last month, China announced that it had fully inoculated 1 billion people, or about 71 percent of its population of 1.4 billion. The country has administered 2.21 billion doses.

What’s next: Chinese health officials have said that further studies are still needed to determine whether the rest of the population would benefit from boosters.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • The U.S. will start lifting restrictions on its borders with Canada and Mexico.

  • Texas’ governor banned Covid vaccine mandates on Monday. But U.S. legal experts say that may not hold water.

President Biden on Wednesday announced efforts to address supply chain bottlenecks in the U.S. by allowing the Port of Los Angeles to operate 24 hours a day.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Biden takes action against snarled supply chains

President Biden said Wednesday afternoon that his administration is taking steps to untangle supply chains and clear disruptions that have threatened the holiday shopping season, including extending hours at a key port and some large retailers.

The Port of Los Angeles will begin operating around the clock, he said from the White House. UPS, Walmart and FedEx will also announce they are moving to work more off-peak hours. Biden said the country must “take a longer view” and fix supply chain vulnerabilities exposed by the Covid-19 crisis.

Problems in ports, factories and shipping lanes have helped produce shortages, long delivery times and rapid price increases. It’s unclear how much the White House’s actions will help — blockages stretch up and down supply chains around the world. Some issues could last through the end of next year or longer, analysts say.

The resulting inflation has chilled consumer confidence. On Wednesday, the Labor Department announced that the Consumer Price Index, a key reading of monthly inflation, jumped 5.4 percent in September when compared with the prior year. Federal Reserve officials have struck an increasingly wary tone, and they prepared to slow support for the economy at their last meeting.


Asia Pacific

A coal-fired power plant in Ahmedabad, India, on Wednesday.Credit…Divyakant Solanki/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • India is facing an electricity crisis due to dwindling coal supplies, The Guardian reported.

  • Hong Kong suspended classes, stock market trading and government services as a typhoon passed south of the city Wednesday, The A.P. reported.

  • New Zealand’s climate chief said the country would aim for more ambitious climate targets over the next decade.

  • Harvard moved a top language program to Taipei from Beijing.

Around the World

William Shatner, left, rings the bell before liftoff with Jeff Bezos and fellow crew members Chris Boshuizen and Audrey Powers in Texas on Wednesday.Credit…Jose Romero/Blue Origin/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images
  • William Shatner, famous for playing Captain Kirk on “Star Trek,” became the oldest person to cross the Kármán line — the boundary between the atmosphere and space.

  • A man armed with a bow and arrow went on a rampage in a Norwegian town near Oslo on Wednesday, killing and wounding several people, the authorities said.

  • A range of parties in the Czech Republic banded together to oust Andrej Babis, the country’s populist prime minister.

  • The British Environment Agency urged world leaders to take decisive action on climate change, issuing a stark warning before a U.N. summit in Glasgow this month with some 20,000 delegates.

  • The Vatican announced that Pope John Paul I, the Italian pontiff who reigned for only 33 days before his death in 1978, will be beatified after a miracle was attributed to him, bringing him one step closer to sainthood.

A Morning Read

Katoku beach and its village are wrestling with how to cope with increasingly damaging storms.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

A pristine beach is one of Japan’s last. Soon, it will be filled with concrete for a sea wall to curb erosion. The project demonstrates how not even the most precious ecological treasures can survive Japan’s construction obsession, which has long been its answer to natural threats. It is also a vital source of economic stimulus in rural areas — but this plan has torn a tiny village apart.


The end of ‘women’s wear’

Models posed at the Lanvin fashion show in Paris earlier this month.Credit…Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

One of the biggest trends from the spring 2022 fashion shows, which recently wrapped, was not an accessory or a color. It was the way many designers showcased men and women in what has long been called “women’s wear.” Raf Simons, for example, showed skirt suits for him and her. At Marni, models donned giant sweaters with flowers. “By the end of season, it had become so common, it barely registered with me,” Vanessa Friedman writes in The Times. “I just saw clothes.”

Friedman and her fellow Times fashion critic, Guy Trebay, discussed how the change reflects societal shifts, particularly among younger people, in self-expression and gender identity.

Some shows in recent years have featured clothes that existed beyond the traditional categories of gendered dressing. But “this was something new. Like … gender agnosticism,” Friedman said. Brightly colored clothing with flowy fabrics and ample decoration was for everybody.

The trend goes beyond the runways, Trebay added. “Spend any time on social media and you know how readily guys are now adopting elements of traditionally feminine apparel and grooming,” he said. “It’s not a huge stretch to imagine normalizing men wearing dresses or whatever in the workplace.”


What to Cook

Credit…Con Poulos for The New York Times

This one-pot wonder of chicken, black beans, rice and chiles will make everyone at the table happy.

What to Watch

Playing Monica Lewinsky in the FX series “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” Beanie Feldstein feels it all.

What to Read

Cursed for life? Not so fast, say the witches in “The Book of Magic,” the final installment of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic series.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Secondhand (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. Elizabeth Dias and Ryan Christopher Jones were honored by the Religion News Association for excellence in religion reporting, and Laurie Goodstein was given the lifetime achievement award.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on Afghan girls’ impossible choices under Taliban rule.

Sanam Yar wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach Melina and the team at

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