President Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, traveled to Beijing this week in hopes of persuading officials there to begin reducing China’s carbon emissions on a faster timeline. After all, China is responsible for nearly a third of global emissions, and scientists say its decisions — along with those of the United States — will be vital in the fight to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

But after three days of talks, Kerry emerged today with no new deals. In fact, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, insisted in a speech that China will pursue its goals to eliminate carbon dioxide pollution at its own pace and in its own way.

Xi’s comments – which reiterated his plan to make China carbon neutral by 2060, but rejected outside influence – suggested that tensions between the US and China are making it difficult to work together on a crisis that threatens the planet.

However, Kerry insisted he was not disappointed with the outcome, noting that just talking showed progress. “We had very frank conversations, but we came here to create new paths,” he said, adding, “It’s clear we’re going to need a little more work.”

For more: We watched as the United States and China — the world’s two biggest polluters — stack up.

Extreme heat: On Sunday, a remote city in northwestern China reported the highest temperature ever recorded in that country: 126 degrees.

Russian forces will consider any ship in the Black Sea bound for Ukrainian ports as a potential carrier of military cargo, the Kremlin said, in a significant escalation of tension and a blow to Ukraine’s ability to export its grain.

The declaration appeared to signal that Moscow would view merchant ships as legitimate military targets, which would almost certainly discourage commercial shipping. The announcement, coming just days after Moscow pulled out of a UN-brokered deal that allowed Ukrainian ships to export grain, sent wheat prices soaring.

In other war news, the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6, said Vladimir Putin had cut a deal allowing Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary leader who rebelled last month, to “save his skin”.

In a speech to American lawmakers on Capitol Hill, President Isaac Herzog of Israel sought to ease concerns that his country is losing its democratic, pluralistic tradition.

That message appeared to be aimed not only at the United States, but also at members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, who wish to increase the power of Netanyahu’s office. That effort, along with settlement building in the West Bank, strained the United States’ longstanding bipartisan support.

The tensions were clear again today when a handful of Democrats boycotted the speech, including Representative Pramila Jayapal, who last week said Israel “is a racist state” before walking back.

Following a review that found serious flaws in his academic research, Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced today that he will step down as president of Stanford University. Tessier-Lavigne, who will remain at the university as a professor of biology, said he would retract three papers and correct two more. Questions about the accuracy of his work were recently resurfaced by the student newspaper, The Stanford Daily.

In other education news, Wesleyan University, a liberal arts college in Connecticut, said it would no longer give a leg up to the children of alumni.

For generations of American children, July was a time to swim, explore, sing, shoot hoops, create art and make new friends. In other words: camp time.

Unfortunately, the recent stretch of extreme weather has made for many more unhappy campers. First there was the smoke from the Canadian fires, which polluted the air across the country. Then floods sent children home in the Northeast. And this week, it continued to be too hot for extended outdoor activities across much of the South and West.

They are called the Cow, the Koala, the Camel and the Tasmanian Devil. But don’t worry – no Earth-dwelling animals were harmed in these giant explosions in outer space. Instead, these are simply nicknames given to a strange phenomenon that scientists cannot explain.

The latest, the Finch, was the most interesting yet: It was found far outside a galaxy where scientists wouldn’t expect many, if any, stars. The most promising explanation so far is that the explosions are the result of a star 20 times the size of the sun collapsing into a black hole.

Parts of the Hudson River, which runs from the Adirondacks to New York, are potentially dangerous to humans, from dumped sewage or residual mercury. But overall, the river is much cleaner than years ago. And one man plans to swim the whole thing to prove it – 315 miles in nothing but a Speedo, cap and goggles.

That man, Lewis Pugh, seeks to raise awareness of the potential to revive toxic waterways. Pugh knows he may encounter some unpleasant obstacles on his journey, but he says he wants to prove to people along the Nile, the Seine or the River Thames that their river, too, can be saved.

Have a safe evening.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. – Matthew

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