The New York Times 2024-02-16 12:10:19

Middle East Crisis: Israeli Forces Search Gaza Hospital; 4 Patients Die as Power Is Lost, Gazan Officials Say

The Israeli military is in control of Nasser hospital, Gazan officials say.

Israeli special forces were combing the grounds of southern Gaza’s largest hospital on Friday and questioning suspects, the military said, as Gazan officials announced that four patients had died there after all power was lost amid an Israeli raid on the facility.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said that electric generators had cut out and that all power was lost at the hospital, the Nasser Medical Complex, but did not specify the reason. The ministry said on Facebook that the Israeli military was in control of the complex, which it raided early Thursday.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Friday that its forces had arrested 20 people who it said had participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack, and that it had detained dozens of others for questioning. It also said its troops had found mortar shells and grenades belonging to Hamas in the area of the hospital.

In announcing its raid, the Israeli military said that its action was based partly on intelligence that hostages had been held at the complex and that their bodies could have been there. Late Thursday, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, said that its forces had not found any hostages taken in the Oct. 7 attack, but that their search was continuing.

Neither the Israeli claims nor those of the Gazan authorities could be independently verified. Communications with people inside the Nasser complex, in the city of Khan Younis, have been extremely spotty since Israel’s military pushed into its grounds before dawn on Thursday, smashing through the perimeter and entering the compound as explosions and gunfire rang out.

Videos showed chaotic scenes inside the hospital’s smoke-filled corridors, with parts of the ceiling collapsing and wire and beams protruding as gurneys were rushed past.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday that its staff had had to evacuate but that the weakest patients had stayed behind. The Israeli military ordered all remaining workers and patients into one building, according to a voice memo from a doctor provided by the group.

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes, and its raid on the Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza in November revealed a stone-and-concrete tunnel shaft below.

The army said in January that it had detected the launch of mortar fire from the Nasser complex toward Israeli soldiers.

Early Friday, the Gazan Health Ministry said that the hospital’s power supply had cut out, endangering the lives of six adult patients in intensive care and three infants in incubators who were dependent on oxygen. About 40 minutes later, it said that three of the patients had died, and a few hours later, a fourth.

Nasser had been the largest functioning hospital left in Gaza. Two days before the raid, the Israeli military began ordering the evacuation of the thousands of civilians who were sheltering at the complex, setting off alarm from international observers.

“Nasser is the backbone of the health system in southern Gaza,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, wrote on the social platform X earlier in the week. “It must be protected.”

Several people were also killed or wounded in Thursday morning’s incursion, including at least one doctor and one patient, according to Doctors Without Borders, Gazan health officials and a doctor at the hospital.

As Israel pushes Gazans into Rafah, Egypt is building a new wall near the border.

A wall is going up in the desert of Egypt near the border of the war-torn Gaza Strip, but no one is talking much about it.

Satellite imagery, photographs and video analyzed by The New York Times show a large patch of land being bulldozed and the wall being built in the buffer zone between Egypt and Rafah, the southern Gaza city overflowing with over a million displaced Palestinians that Israeli forces are poised to invade.

The satellite imagery clearly shows newly graded land south of the Rafah border crossing. An analysis of the satellite images indicated that the work began around Feb. 5.

But the Egyptian government, which has looked on with concern as Gazans displaced by the war between Israel and Hamas mass in Rafah, has declined to discuss the new construction. A spokesman for the government would only refer to statements by the government in recent weeks highlighting its fortification of the border.

It was not clear whether the structure might be intended to hold Gazans who crossed the border, but if it were to be used that way, it would be a major reversal of Egypt’s stance.

A contractor and an engineer who were interviewed by The Times and provided photos said they had been commissioned by the Egyptian Army to build a five-meter-high concrete wall — about 16 feet — to close off a five-square-kilometer plot of land at the site. They said they had begun work on Feb. 5 and started on the wall two days ago.

The contractor and the engineer spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying that they feared reprisals. The Egyptian authorities heavily restrict information coming from the border area.

Since October, when a Hamas-led attack on Israel led to immense Israeli military retaliation in Gaza, Egypt has repeatedly rebuffed any suggestion that it take in some of the Gazans who have fled air and ground assaults to areas near the border in Rafah. Egyptian officials fear that an influx of refugees would pose a security risk, and many Palestinians suspect that Israel might not allow people who leave Gaza to come back when the war is over.

In recent weeks, uprooted Gazans have crammed into Rafah, on the border of Egypt, struggling to survive in tents and makeshift shelters with scarce access to food and other critically needed supplies, aid workers say. One Gazan official in Rafah, Ahmed al-Soufi, estimated that there were over 100,000 displaced Palestinians in encampments pressed against the border.

At a meeting convened by Egypt on Thursday, Martin Griffiths, the United Nation’s top aid chief, said that “the possibility of spillover, a sort of Egyptian nightmare, is one that is right before our eyes.”

Like Israel, Egypt has sealed its borders with Gaza, and in recent months it has been adding fortifications to its border area.

A day after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, the governorate of North Sinai — where the work captured in the satellite images is taking place — said in a statement that the governor had held an emergency meeting with senior local officials to “study the capacities of schools, housing units and empty land that can be used as shelter sites if necessary.”

But on Thursday, the deputy governor of North Sinai, Maj. Gen Hisham el-Khouly, said he was not aware of any new construction. And the governor of North Sinai, Maj. Gen Mohamed Shousha, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Ahmed Ezzat, the head of emergency operations at the Egyptian Red Crescent, which coordinates Gaza-related humanitarian assistance work at the border, said he had not heard of the project.

Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting from Geneva, and Adam Rasgon from Jerusalem.

Maps: Tracking the Attacks in Israel and GazaSee where Israel has bulldozed vast areas of Gaza, as its invasion continues to advance south.

Medical workers describe chaos as Israeli forces raided Nasser.

Confusion and fear spread through and beyond the Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza on Thursday as an Israeli military raid on one of the region’s few functioning hospitals sent panicked workers and sheltering civilians fleeing.

A doctor at the hospital, Islam Sawaly, said she fled on foot around 3 a.m. after a rocket struck the orthopedic department.

“Only a few doctors remained,” she said after what she described as a walk of more than four hours along a dark and damaged road to the area of Miraj, about halfway between the hospital in Khan Younis and Rafah. That city along the border with Egypt has become the destination of many fleeing Gazans.

Video verified by The New York Times showed the aftermath of a strike, with injured people being rushed through a smoke-filled corridor amid debris and the sounds of gunfire. It is unclear what time the video was filmed.

The number of casualties from the raid was unclear.

Doctors Without Borders said that shelling had left “an undetermined number of people killed and injured.” In voice notes released by the group, a doctor at the hospital said a rocket attack around 2 a.m. had killed a patient in his bed and injured six others.

Dr. Sawaly told The Times that a rocket attack had left two people with burns and killed a doctor, although health officials in Gaza said the doctor had been injured.

Doctors Without Borders also said that one of its workers was unaccounted for after being detained at a checkpoint and called for the “protection of his dignity.”

An Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said late Thursday that “dozens” of people had been arrested, and the military released photos of three individuals it said were suspected of terrorism.

Conditions at Nasser — where health officials said about 8,000 displaced Palestinians were staying before an evacuation order — deteriorated rapidly in recent days, and then grew still worse overnight when Israeli forces entered the complex.

The Doctors Without Borders physician, whose name the group withheld for his protection, said that Israeli troops had ordered the medical staff to move all the patients into the oldest building of the hospital. The doctor said only about 40 health care workers and administrative staff members were left. Some 300 medical workers were there before the evacuation order, Gazan health officials have said.

Tanya Haj-Hassan, a pediatric intensive care doctor for the group, described the situation there as “catastrophic and utterly unbearable.” The hasty evacuations set off in recent days by Israeli warnings, she said, meant that those left behind at Nasser were the sickest patients, who could not be moved, and an unknown number of evacuees who turned back after coming under fire while trying to get out.

Rik Peeperkorn, the World Health Organization’s representative for the West Bank and Gaza, said Nasser had been treating about 400 patients on Wednesday, including about 80 in intensive care, with 35 on dialysis.

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad and Ameera Harouda contributed reporting.

The U.S. conducted a cyberattack against an Iranian military ship, an official says.

The United States recently carried out a cyberattack against an Iranian military vessel that the Pentagon says was gathering intelligence on merchant ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and relaying that information to Houthi fighters, a U.S. military official said on Thursday.

The cyberattack happened as part of the Biden administration’s retaliation on Feb. 2 to a drone attack last month by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that killed three American soldiers at a remote outpost in Jordan and injured dozens of others, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters.

U.S. analysts had suspected for weeks that the ship, the MV Behshad, was operating near the African port of Djibouti, which lies across a strait from Yemen, to spy on nearby ships and pass that information to Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The Houthis, who control northern Yemen, have been firing missiles and drones at vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Iranian officials have denied the allegations. The Houthis have said that their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli attack in Gaza.

The cyberattack was intended to disrupt the Iranian ship’s ability to share that information with the Houthis, according to the U.S. military, who did not elaborate on the clandestine mission.

Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined on Thursday to comment on the matter.

The New York Times previously reported that the United States had conducted a cyberattack against Iranian targets as part of the response to avenge the deaths of the three soldiers in Jordan. That response also included retaliatory strikes against Iranian forces and the militias they support in seven sites in Syria and Iraq. NBC News first reported new details about the cyberattack on Thursday.

The U.S. says it seized more weapons from Iran intended for the Houthis.

The U.S. military said on Thursday that a Coast Guard cutter had recently seized advanced weapons and other lethal aid from a vessel in the Arabian Sea that had originated in Iran and were bound for Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

A Coast Guard boarding team intercepted the vessel on Jan. 28 and found more than 200 packages that contained medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, naval drone components, anti-tank guided missile launcher parts and communications gear, the military’s Central Command said in a statement.

The United States has accused Iran of supplying weapons and arms components to the Houthis, helping the Iran-backed militia sustain its string of missile and drone attacks targeting commercial vessels and Navy ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Houthis have said that their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli attack in Gaza.

“This is yet another example of Iran’s malign activity in the region,” Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, the head of Central Command, said in a statement. “Their continued supply of advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis is in direct violation of international law and continues to undermine the safety of international shipping and the free flow of commerce.”

The United States and several allies have repeatedly warned the Houthis of serious consequences if their salvos do not stop. But U.S.-led retaliatory strikes — including major barrages on Jan. 11 and Feb. 3 — have so far failed to deter the Houthis from attacking shipping lanes to and from the Suez Canal that are critical for global trade. Hundreds of ships have been forced to take lengthy detours around southern Africa, driving up costs.

In the past five days, the United States has carried out short-notice strikes on at least two dozen aerial and naval drones and anti-ship cruise missiles in Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen that Central Command said posed an imminent threat to commercial ships. But the Houthis continue to fire away, at one point this week hitting a ship carrying corn to Iran, the U.S. military said.

U.S. and British military strikes are intended to whittle away at the Houthis’ arsenal, American officials say, while the maritime interdictions are aimed at choking off the militants’ arms pipeline.

Last month, two members of the Navy SEALs died during an operation at sea to intercept weapons from Iran headed to Houthi fighters. In that nighttime mission, which also involved helicopters and aerial drones, Navy commandos boarded a small boat and seized Iranian-made ballistic-missile and cruise-missile components, the U.S. military said.

The items seized in that operation included propulsion and guidance systems and warheads for medium-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as air-defense components, Central Command said. Such weapons transfers to the Houthis would violate international law and a United Nations Security Council resolution, the military said.

How 2 American Families Became Activists After Hamas Captured Their Sons

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One hundred and three days after Omer Neutra was taken prisoner by Hamas, his parents, Ronen and Orna, found themselves in the basement of the United States Capitol, looking for an exit. Andrea Mitchell, the NBC News journalist, stood with them, eager for an interview. Beside Ms. Mitchell were two Senate staff members, with orders to deliver the Neutras to meetings with their bosses.

It would be the second media interview of the morning for the Neutras and for Yael and Adi Alexander, whose son Edan is also held captive by Hamas. The two families have worked together for months to build political pressure to free their sons, an effort that on this day would include meeting privately with Joni Ernst, a Republican senator from Iowa, and gathering with dozens of members of Congress for a candlelight vigil.

“I have walked more distance in these corridors than I have in my own house,” Ronen Neutra, 59, said of his experience the last four months. “I can’t believe this is our life.”

Hamas took more than 240 people captive when it attacked Israel on Oct. 7. About 100 hostages, most of them women and children, were released during a cease-fire in November, and at least 30 others are believed to have died in captivity, according to Israeli officials. That may leave around 100 alive, most of them men who are Israeli citizens.

Those who remain include a number of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, like Mr. Alexander and Mr. Neutra. The young men, dual American-Israeli citizens who both grew up a short train ride from Manhattan, were serving together on the same military outpost the morning of the attacks.

For the Neutras and the Alexanders, the capture and imprisonment of their sons has thrust their families into a new, public life. Almost every week, the families fly to Israel or to Washington. They spent two hours with President Biden in the White House, where he cried with them and gave them a tour of his private offices. Ronen Neutra flew to Qatar to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani; Ms. Alexander met with the sheikh privately in Washington.

The two families share one urgent goal: the immediate release of their sons. So they have upended their lives, enduring fatigue and forsaking privacy to keep their sons’ shared plight near the forefront of policymakers’ minds.

Their activism is choreographed in part by some of the world’s most skilled and influential lobbying groups and consultants. The families, new to politics but savvy to the politicization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, understand they must avoid alienating any politician who may someday help bring their sons home, while constantly debating whether to be more aggressive.

As Israel’s war effort grows more unpopular in the United States — the war has killed more than 28,000 people in Gaza, according to health officials there — the families respond to growing criticism of Israel by not responding. They take no stand on Israel’s war tactics or a possible two-state solution. And they try to avoid criticizing Hamas, which their advisers warn might further endanger their sons.

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“We get pressure mostly from the Israeli press,” Adi Alexander, 52, said. “They want us to be more political, to say which politicians need to resign. But that is not our place.”

Omer Neutra and Edan Alexander are two of six Americans held by Hamas.

Their families have received no information about their medical conditions, and no evidence that the young men are still alive. Their only insights come from the Israeli government, which has told the families it has no evidence that the soldiers are dead.

Mr. Neutra is 22, two years older than Mr. Alexander. Both are the sons of dual Israeli-American citizens. They met in the summer of 2023, as Israeli soldiers stationed near the Gaza border, on a military outpost the size of a suburban Walgreens back home.

As a boy on Long Island, Mr. Neutra’s lubberly horsing around concealed his seriousness, his parents said. He became captain of the volleyball and basketball teams at the Schechter School of Long Island, a private Jewish school, and president of the United Synagogue Youth group’s Metro New York chapter. He moved to Israel, joined the Israel Defense Forces, and opted to serve in a tank brigade, partly because he had heard it was among the army’s toughest jobs.

Mr. Alexander grew up in New Jersey, where his powerful backstroke made him a star on the Tenafly High School swim team. Boys liked his jokes; girls liked his suave smile and sensitive eyes. During his senior year in 2022 he joined Garin Tzabar, a program of the Israel Scouts that prepares young people from around the world to join the Israel Defense Forces. He was assigned to the infantry, arriving at the tiny base near Gaza in September.

When Hamas attacked, Mr. Neutra drove two miles to the border, where Hamas militants ambushed his tank with rocket-propelled grenades. More militants surrounded the outpost, where Mr. Alexander stood with his rifle, alone.

Both were taken prisoner.

Their parents used videos of the attack posted to the internet by Hamas militants, plus conversations with Israeli military officials and members of their sons’ units, to piece together how the men were captured.

Unlike civilian hostages, soldiers taken captive are considered prisoners of war, a class that is protected but also accepted under international law, including the Geneva Accords. (Israeli and Hamas leaders accuse each other of employing torture and other practices that violate those accords.)

To their parents, Mr. Alexander and Mr. Neutra are not so different from their civilian counterparts who were taken hostage.

“They were taken by force during a peaceful situation,” Ms. Neutra said. “Israel was at peace. They all need to come home.”

Four months after the attack, at her home in Tenafly, Yael Alexander picked up a pack of Marlboro Ultra Light 100s and a can of Diet Coke, walked into her garage and opened the garage door. She lit a cigarette and watched a cold rain slap the driveway.

“I was a smoker, in the army,” said Ms. Alexander, 44, who served in the Israel Defense Forces in her 20s. “I stopped, obviously, because of the kids. But now, I start smoking again. This is the only time I can actually breathe.”

Later that morning, she stood outside in the rainstorm and addressed a crowd of 500 supporters in downtown Tenafly.

“We miss your laugh, and your beautiful smile, so, so much, Edani,” she said, reading the words from her iPhone as her husband held an umbrella above her head.

Her message — free of politics, delivered as if she were speaking directly to her son — followed advice from consultants at SKDK, a well-connected public relations firm in Washington. SKDK is paid by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which was founded after the Hamas attacks and has raised millions of dollars in donations.

The American families realized within days of Oct. 7 that they needed advice from people who understood power in Washington, Mr. and Ms. Neutra said. Their aim was to use their stature as Americans to keep Congress and the White House focused on the hostages’ safe return.

The families interviewed three consulting firms for the job. They chose SKDK partly for its experience with previous hostage negotiations, and partly because the firm’s roster includes Kendra Barkoff Lamy, who served more than four years as press secretary to Mr. Biden when he was vice president.

“They take us by the hand, chauffeur us around,” Mr. Neutra said. “It’s very helpful. Without it, we’d be lost.”

Ms. Lamy and a spokesperson for SKDK declined to discuss the company’s role with the families.

The Neutras own a company that makes scientific equipment. Mr. Alexander works as a diamond dealer in Manhattan. Both families live comfortably, but neither could afford SKDK’s fees on their own.

In addition to their regular trips to Israel and Washington, the Neutras flew recently to Utah, where they met celebrities attending the Sundance Film Festival, they said. Whenever they need to travel, Mr. Neutra said, he texts volunteers at the forum, who plan each trip, book hotel rooms and pay for flights.

The organizational effort also includes the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy group that is helping to schedule meetings with political leaders, and Gilbert LLP, a law firm that offers use of its offices, a few blocks from the Capitol, when the families visit Washington.

The goal is to “keep this issue as a top global humanitarian priority until every single hostage is brought home,” Ted Deutch, the committee’s chief executive, said in a written statement.

As a recent gray Friday turned blue with dusk, Orna Neutra opened the refrigerator in her home in Plainview on Long Island. She pulled out trays of couscous, chicken in wine and a chocolate cake.

The food had been prepared by friends, who organized themselves to cook most of the couple’s meals after the Neutras’ new lives left no time to buy groceries. In a few minutes, the Neutras would bring the food to a friend’s house for Shabbat dinner.

Dusk on Friday is also when the Neutras used to enjoy video chats with Omer, who called from his army outpost in Israel. They played backgammon together. Omer always won.

“This is when we miss him the most,” Ms. Neutra, 54, said.

And so the parents wait, and fear, and prepare for a reunion they insist will come. To accommodate all the guests they plan to invite, both families bought new, larger dining room tables. The Neutras recently flew to Israel to rent an apartment. When Omer is released, they hope, he will have a place to go.

“We wanted to create the reality that he is coming home very soon,” Mr. Neutra said.

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Rishi Sunak Back in Hot Seat After Losses, but His Ouster Is Unlikely

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain could find himself in a familiar predicament after his Conservative Party went down to defeat in parliamentary elections in two districts on Thursday: isolated, embattled and the subject of whispered plotting by restive Tories bent on pushing him out for a new leader.

The crushing loss of two seats in once-reliable Conservative areas capped another dismal week for Mr. Sunak. Economic data confirmed on Thursday that Britain had fallen into recession at the end of last year, undermining one of the prime minister’s five core pledges — that he would recharge the country’s growth.

Yet the scheming against Mr. Sunak, analysts said, is no more likely to go anywhere than it has during his previous leadership crises. However desperate the political straits of the Conservatives, they would find it hard, at this late stage, to replace their languishing prime minister with someone else.

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Zelensky Visits Berlin and Paris to Shore Up Support as U.S. Wavers

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is making a whirlwind trip through Berlin and Paris on Friday in a bid to shore up European backing at a critical moment for his country’s fight against Russia, with United States support wavering and Ukraine desperately in need of more arms.

Arriving in Berlin on Friday morning, Mr. Zelensky signed a security agreement with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany. The Ukrainian leader was expected in Paris later Friday to sign a similar accord with President Emmanuel Macron of France, before an expected appearance at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

“A historic step,” Mr. Scholz wrote in a social media post that included a picture of him and Mr. Zelensky holding the agreement after it was signed. The details of the deal were not immediately made public.

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Architect Embraces Indigenous Worldview in Australian Designs

Jefa Greenaway will never forget the first time he heard his father’s voice. It was in 2017, when he was watching a documentary about Indigenous Australians’ fight to be recognized in the country’s Constitution.

“It was poignant, surreal,” Mr. Greenaway recalled. “In one word: emotional.”

In the film, his father, Bert Groves, an Indigenous man and a civil rights activist born in 1907, recounts how he was prevented from pursuing an education because of the size of his skull, a victim of phrenology, the pseudoscience that lingered in Australia into the 20th century.

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Life Imitates Art as a ‘Master and Margarita’ Movie Stirs Russia

By all appearances, the movie adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s cult favorite novel “The Master and Margarita,” in Russian theaters this winter, shouldn’t be thriving in President Vladimir Putin’s wartime Russia.

The director is American. One of the stars is German. The celebrated Stalin-era satire, unpublished in its time, is partly a subversive sendup of state tyranny and censorship — forces bedeviling Russia once again today.

But the film was on its way to the box office long before Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine and imposed a level of repression on Russia unseen since Soviet times. The state had invested millions in the movie, which had already been shot. Banning a production of Russia’s most famous literary paean to artistic freedom was perhaps too big an irony for even the Kremlin to bear.

Its release — after many months of delay — has been one of the most dramatic and charged Russian film debuts in recent memory. The movie refashions the novel as a revenge tragedy about a writer’s struggle under censorship, borrowing from the story of Bulgakov’s own life. The emphasis, for many Russians, has hit close to home. And, for some defenders of Putin, too close.

“I had an internal belief that the movie would have to come out somehow,” the director, Michael Lockshin, said in a video interview from his home in California. “I still thought it was a miracle when it did come out. As for the response, it’s hard to expect a response like this.”

More than 3.7 million people have flocked to see the film in Russian theaters since its Jan. 25 premiere, according to Russia’s national film fund.

Some moviegoing audiences in Moscow have erupted in applause at the end of screenings, recognizing echoes of Russia’s wartime reality and marveling that the adaptation made it to theaters at all. Other, less politically minded viewers have praised the adaptation for its special effects and audacity in departing from the book’s plot.

Putin’s most bellicose defenders have been less than thrilled.

Pro-war propagandists mounted a broadside against Lockshin, who has publicly opposed Russia’s invasion and supported Ukraine, calling for a criminal case against him and for his designation as a terrorist.

Fulminating on state television, one of Russia’s most prominent propagandists, Vladimir Solovyov, demanded to know how Lockshin had been allowed to make the movie. He asked whether the release was a “special operation,” or if somebody had been “duped.”

State networks didn’t promote the movie the way they normally would for a government-funded picture. And the state film fund, under pressure after the release, removed the movie’s production company from its list of preferred vendors.

The antics spurred a new wave of moviegoers, who rushed to theaters fearing the film was about to be banned.

“The film amazingly coincided with the historical moment that Russia is experiencing, with the restoration of Stalinism, with the persecution of the intelligentsia,” said the Russian film critic Anton Dolin, who has been branded a “foreign agent” and fled the country. “And when the author of the film began to be subjected to this persecution, a completely magical rhyme arose.”

Bulgakov’s novel, written in the 1930s, is a phantasmagorical story exploring the capacity for good and evil in every individual. In it, the devil arrives with his retinue in Joseph Stalin’s Moscow, where he meets an afflicted author, known as the Master, and his lover, Margarita. The novel also retells the story of Pontius Pilate ordering Jesus’s crucifixion, which the reader finds out is the subject of a forbidden text the Master has written.

Bulgakov’s own travails were reflected in the Master’s torment.

Stalin didn’t order the novelist’s execution or imprisonment, in contrast to the treatment of other Soviet writers of the time, but severely restricted Bulgakov’s work and suffocated his artistic ambitions. Bulgakov poured much of that pain into “The Master and Margarita,” which wasn’t published until the late 1960s, more than a quarter century after his death.

“The movie is about the freedom of an artist in an unfree world,” Lockshin said, “and what that freedom entails — about not losing your belief in the power of art, even when everything around you is punishing you for making it.”

“Of course,” he added, “there is a love story in it as well.”

Lockshin, who grew up both in the United States and Russia but is an American citizen, signed on to the project in 2019, choosing a Quentin Tarantino-style revenge plot as a frame for the adaptation before the war revived severe censorship in Russia.

When Putin launched his invasion two years ago, Lockshin opposed the war on social media from the United States and called on his friends to support Ukraine. Back in Russia, that put the movie’s release at risk.

“My position was that I wouldn’t censor myself in any way for the movie,” he said. “The movie itself is about censorship.”

Universal Pictures, which had signed on to distribute the film, pulled out of Russia after the war began and exited the project. (The movie currently has no distributor in the United States.)

And as repression in Russia expanded, life began to imitate art. “All of these things that were in the movie were kind of playing out,” Lockshin said.

Russia charged a theater director and a playwright with allegations of justifying terrorism, echoing a show trial for the Master that the film’s creators added to the script. An “almost naked” theme party in Moscow led to a crackdown on its celebrity attendees, conjuring images of the novel’s famous satanic ball. And Russians began denouncing one another for harboring antiwar sympathies, much like when the Master’s friend snitches on him.

“Not everyone can afford to be so uncompromising,” the friend tells the Master in the movie, before ratting him out. “Some people have alimony to pay.”

The film’s verisimilitude was unmistakable for many moviegoers.

Yevgeny Gindilis, a Russian film producer, said that he had crowded into a Moscow theater near the Kremlin to watch it, and sensed some discomfort in the hall. At the end, he said, about a third of the audience erupted in applause.

“I think the clapping,” Gindilis said, “is about the fact that people are happy they are able to experience and watch this film that has this clear, anti-totalitarian and anti-repressive state message, in a situation when the state is really trying to oppress everything that has an independent voice.”

Gindilis recounted how one of the most uncomfortable scenes for people to watch in Moscow was the final revenge sequence, when the devil’s mischievous talking cat repels a secret police squad that has come to apprehend the Master, leading to a fire that ultimately engulfs all of Moscow.

The Master and Margarita, alongside the devil, played by the German actor August Diehl, gaze out over the burning city, watching a system that ruined their lives go up in flames.

“Today the whole country is unable to take revenge or even respond to the persecution, restrictions and censorship,” Dolin, the film critic, said. But the protagonists of the film, having made a deal with the devil, manage to get even.

The film flashes to the Master and Margarita in the afterlife, reunited and free. “Listen,” she says to him. “Listen and enjoy that which they never gave you in life — peace.”

Alina Lobzina contributed reporting.

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How Russia Depicts Wounded Soldiers: As Heroes, or Not at All

A shell slammed into the ground just feet from where the Russian soldier was deployed, and the explosion tossed him into the air.

“I felt my arm fall off, then a blow to my leg, everything slowed down, just a frozen picture in my eyes — no sounds, no other sensations,” said the soldier, Andrei, a 29-year-old former convict recruited into the Wagner private military company.

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Losing Ground, Ukraine Seeks New Positions Around Avdiivka

Ukrainian soldiers are withdrawing from positions in the shattered town of Avdiivka after advancing Russian forces breached a critical supply line and threatened to encircle scores of Ukrainian soldiers, Ukrainian military officials and soldiers said on Thursday.

Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesman for Ukrainian forces fighting in the area, said the Ukrainians were “maneuvering” and “sometimes withdrawing to more advantageous positions and sometimes repelling enemy advances.”

He also said military commanders had set up a backup logistical route to the town to transport much needed supplies to Ukraine’s beleaguered troops.

The battle, Mr. Lykhovii said, was dynamic and changing by the hour as the two sides engaged in fierce urban combat. But his comments suggested the fighting had taken another ominous turn for Kyiv’s forces, potentially presaging their withdrawal from a town reduced to ruins by months of horrendous bombardment.

In a war of mostly small territorial gains, the capture of Avdiivka would be the Russians’ most significant battlefield achievement since taking Bakhmut last May.

Signs of Ukraine’s deteriorating hold on Avdiivka have been evident for several weeks. Ukraine recently rotated out soldiers from the 110th Brigade, which had played a vital role in the defense of the city for two years but were exhausted and severely depleted after months of brutal combat. Soldiers from the elite Third Assault Brigade were sent in to shore up Ukraine’s forces but noted that they were being sent into a situation that was already “extremely critical.”

“Avdiivka is hell,” the brigade’s commander, Andrii Biletskyi, said in a statement. The situation in the city was “ precarious and unstable,” he said, with the Russians able to rotate troops and deploy more resources to the fight.

“We are forced to fight 360 degrees against new brigades that the enemy is deploying,” he said.

Avdiivka, which is less than 10 miles from the Russian occupied city of Donetsk, has withstood months of relentless Russian assaults aimed at encircling the stronghold.

However, as U.S. military assistance stopped flowing and commanders were forced to start rationing ammunition, the Russians managed to gain two footholds within the town itself.

As Russian warplanes pounded Avdiivka with powerful guided bombs, its small assault units stormed through the ruins. The Ukrainians have turned to drones to help thwart Russian advances. But a recent stretch of foggy and rainy weather has limited the use of drones by both sides.

With the Ukrainians forced to conserve ammunition, small bands of Russian assault units were able to amass within the city itself.

“The Russians are throwing everything they have left just to symbolically take the city,” a Ukrainian soldier said when reached by phone, insisting on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “From a strategic point of view, the city no longer matters. And it’s only advantageous for us to hold it to make the losses for the Russkies as high as possible.

Another soldier fighting in the city said it was “just horrible” and the “only thing to do is pray.”

The Russian units are now advancing from the south, threatening to cut off Ukrainian forces in the southern part of city, and the north, where they have now crossed a key supply line in several places.

“The supply and evacuation of Avdiivka has become challenging, but an alternative logistics route, prepared in advance, has been activated,” Mr. Lykhovii said.

The Russians’ ultimate goal, he said, is to encircle the hulking Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, which could be used by Ukrainian forces to mount a last stand in the city should they be forced to pull out of residential areas entirely.

Ukraine’s new top military commander, Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, is under close scrutiny for how he handles Avdiivka. While military analysts agree that Ukraine has inflicted far steeper losses on the Russians than it suffered during months of fighting, the urban combat that typifies the endgame can be far more costly for both sides.

In the nine-month long fight for Bakhmut, it was the final bloody months of fighting across a bombed-out city that took the heaviest toll on both sides. General Syrsky was widely criticized for ordering his soldiers to fight inside the city long after it was clear Bakhmut would be lost. The fight for Avdiivka, a small city of 30,000 before the war but now just lifeless ruins spread across 12 square miles, has only recently descended into street fighting.

At the same time as General Syrsky has to establish trust at home, he has to plan for the future unsure what assistance his forces will get from their chief military backer, the United States.

A bill that would provide $60 billion in urgently needed military assistance is facing stiff resistance from Republicans in the House of Representatives.

“Avdiivka is at risk of falling under Russian control,” John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told reporters on Thursday. “In very large part, this is happening because the Ukrainian forces on the ground are running out of artillery ammunition.”

The failure of Congress to deliver a new $60 billion aid package, he said, was being paid for by Ukrainian soldiers on the battlefield.

“The cost of inaction by the Congress is stark,” he said. “Russian forces are now reaching the Ukrainian trenches actually in Avdiivka and are beginning to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses.”

Russia launched another wave of 26 ballistic and cruise missiles at cities across Ukraine early Thursday. Ukrainian air defense teams were only able to shoot down 50 percent of the barrage, a sign that decreased air defense capabilities were taking a toll.

“We need additional missiles or systems to continue conducting effective air defense battles,” Yuri Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said after the attack. “We need missiles not only to destroy Russia’s cruise or ballistic missiles but also to deter Russian aviation from approaching Ukrainian-controlled territory.”

Maria Varenikova and Liubov Sholudko contributed reporting from Kyiv.

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Which Version of an Ex-General Did Indonesia Just Vote For?

A strongman apparatchik accused of multiple human rights abuses. A violent nationalist. A pious defender of Muslims. A loyal acolyte of a popular president with few achievements of his own.

Prabowo Subianto has been called all of these over the years he has sought power in Indonesia. Now he is projected to be the country’s next president. Unofficial tallies from Wednesday’s election show him winning a decisive victory, with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

During the campaign, Mr. Prabowo repeatedly promised that he would continue on the path and policies charted by Joko Widodo, the popular departing president. That would mean doling out billions of dollars on welfare programs like school lunches, health care and housing. Mr. Joko, who had beaten Mr. Prabowo in previous elections and is scheduled to step down in October, seemed to offer support to his former rival as well, through his 36-year-old son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who will be Mr. Prabowo’s vice president.

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This Centuries-Old Border Dispute Pits an Army Against Unarmed Volunteers

Simon Romero and Alejandro Cegarra spent several days in Belize, traveling by boat to the Sarstoon River and crisscrossing the country by car to speak with people about the dispute with Guatemala.

The boat edged its way past the mangrove swamps, a tangled maze of thorn-covered branches sheltering jaguars and shrieking howler monkeys. We were in Belize, our GPS signals showed, the English-speaking Central American country where British pirates put down stakes centuries ago.

But then members of Guatemala’s military, clad in camouflage and berets, spotted us. Pulling up in their own boat, they grasped rifles, index fingers close to the triggers.

“You’ve just entered Guatemalan waters!” one shouted in Spanish when they were just a few feet away. “We request that you steer toward the nearest Guatemalan command post.”

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In Extraordinary Move, Venezuela Expels U.N. Human Rights Agency

A United Nations agency that monitors and defends human rights was ordered on Thursday to leave Venezuela by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, an extraordinary move that will further strip the country of foreign oversight at a time when its government stands accused of intensifying repression.

The announcement by Yván Gil, the foreign minister, comes just days after the detention and disappearance of Rocío San Miguel, a prominent security expert and human rights advocate.

Following her detention, several U.N. entities issued online statements expressing concern about the arrest, some calling it part of a pattern in which the government tries to silence critics through intimidation.

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Greece Becomes First Orthodox Country to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Greece legalized same-sex marriage and equal parental rights for same-sex couples on Thursday as lawmakers passed a bill that has divided Greek society and drawn vehement opposition from the country’s powerful Orthodox Church.

Although Greece became the 16th European Union country to allow same-sex marriage, it is the first Orthodox Christian nation to pass such a law. The country extended civil partnerships to same-sex couples in 2015, but stopped short of extending equal parental rights at the time.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had pledged to pass the new measures after his landslide re-election last year. He told his cabinet last month that same-sex marriage was a matter of equal rights, noted that similar legislation was in place in more than 30 other countries, and said that there should be no “second-class citizens” or “children of a lesser God.”

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India’s Supreme Court Strikes Down a Fund-Raising Edge for Modi

India’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a contentious fund-raising mechanism that allowed individuals and corporations to make anonymous political donations, a system that was widely seen as an advantage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party.

Though the judgment came just months before the country’s next general election, probably too late to affect its outcome, activists said it could bring more accountability to campaign finance down the road.

The ruling on “electoral bonds,” as the fund-raising instruments are known, came a full six years after Mr. Modi’s government introduced them. According to political analysts, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party raised immense sums of money during that period — both from electoral bonds and other means — money it has used to trounce its rivals in elections and drown out opposition voices more generally.

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Why Farmers Are Marching Toward Delhi Again

Once again, India’s capital is bracing itself for a siege. Not by a foreign army but by an army of Indian farmers, streaming toward New Delhi from nearby states to protest government policies.

The farmers’ march has turned the city’s main points of entry into choke points, as the federal and local police go into overdrive: barricading highways by pouring concrete and stacking shipping containers to halt the advancing tractors.

The authorities have blocked the social media accounts of some protest leaders and even used drones that were once billed as an agricultural innovation to drop tear-gas grenades on the demonstrators.

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An English City Gave Soccer to the World. Now It Wants Credit.

As far as the man in the food truck is concerned, the patch of land he occupies in Sheffield, England, is about as humdrum as they come. To him, the spot — in the drab parking lot of a sprawling home improvement superstore, its facade plastered in lurid orange — is not exactly a place where history comes alive.

John Wilson, an academic at the University of Sheffield’s management school, looks at the same site and can barely contain his excitement. This, he said, is one of the places where the world’s most popular sport was born. He does not see a parking lot. He can see the history: the verdant grass, the sweating players, the cheering crowds.

His passion is sincere, absolute and shared by a small band of amateur historians and volunteer detectives devoted to restoring Sheffield — best known for steel, coal and as the setting for the film “The Full Monty” — to its rightful place as the undisputed birthplace of codified, organized, recognizable soccer.

Map locates Sheffield, Manchester and London in England. It also shows where Wembley Stadium is in northwest London.

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How John Travolta Became the Star of Carnival

Jack Nicas and Dado Galdieri reported this article among the giant puppets of the Carnival celebrations in Olinda, Brazil

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It was near the start of one of Brazil’s most famous Carnival celebrations, in the northern seaside city of Olinda, and the town plaza was jammed with thousands of revelers. They were all awaiting their idol.

Just before 9 p.m., the doors to a dance hall swung open, a brass band pushed into the crowd and the star everyone had been waiting for stepped out: a 12-foot puppet of John Travolta.

Confetti sprayed, the band began playing a catchy tune and the crowd sang along: “John Travolta is really cool. Throwing a great party. And in Olinda, the best carnival.” (It rhymes in Portuguese.)

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‘This Is Where I Want to Be’

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When Ayelet Khon moved back to the Kfar Azza kibbutz with her husband two months after the brutal Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, the first thing she did was hang a string of rainbow-colored lights up on the front patio.

At night, when darkness drenches this community, the twinkling colors are the only lights visible.

“We are going to keep these lights on and never turn them off — even if we’re out for the evening — they are lights of hope,” Ms. Khon said she told her husband, Shar Shnurman.

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Manhattan or Pulau Rhun? In 1667, Nutmeg Made the Choice a No-Brainer.

Richard C. Paddock and

Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, along with the photographer Nyimas Laula, spent three days on Pulau Rhun to document life on the remote island.

The isles of Manhattan and Pulau Rhun could hardly be farther apart, not just in geography, but also in culture, economy and global prominence.

Rhun, in the Banda Sea in Indonesia, has no cars or roads and only about 20 motorbikes. Most people get around by walking along its paved footpaths or up steep stairways, often toting plastic jugs of water from the numerous village wells or sometimes lugging a freshly caught tuna.

But in the 17th century, in what might now seem one of the most lopsided trades in history, the Netherlands believed it got the better part of a bargain with the British when it swapped Manhattan, then known as New Amsterdam, for this tiny speck of land.

Map locates the Maluku Islands in eastern Indonesia. It also locates Pulau Rhan, an island in the Banda Island group, which is part of the Maluku Islands.

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Discontent and Defiance on the Road to Pakistan’s Election

Christina Goldbaum and

The reporters traveled along a famed highway in Pakistan’s most heated political battleground to understand how Pakistanis are feeling before a national election on Thursday.

The highway is the most politically charged slice of a politically turbulent country. It winds 180 miles from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, through the fertile plains of Punjab Province to Lahore, the nation’s cultural and political heart.

For centuries, it was known only as a sliver of the Grand Trunk Road, Asia’s longest and oldest thoroughfare, linking traders in Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. But in Pakistan, this stretch of the smog-drenched highway has become the stage for major rallies and protests led by nearly every famed civilian leader the country has had.

As Pakistan heads into national elections on Thursday, the road is buzzing. Politics dominates the chatter between its vendors and rickshaw drivers, their conversations seeped in a culture of conspiracy, cults of political personality and the problems of entrenched military control.

The map highlights the Grand Trunk Road from Islamabad to Lahore in Pakistan . The towns of Gujar Khan, Jhelum, Wazirabad and Gujranwala along the road are also located.

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The Friar Who Became the Vatican’s Go-To Guy on A.I.

Before dawn, Paolo Benanti climbed to the bell tower of his 16th-century monastery, admired the sunrise over the ruins of the Roman forum and reflected on a world in flux.

“It was a wonderful meditation on what is going on inside,” he said, stepping onto the street in his friar robe. “And outside too.”

There is a lot going on for Father Benanti, who, as both the Vatican’s and the Italian government’s go-to artificial intelligence ethicist, spends his days thinking about the Holy Ghost and the ghosts in the machines.

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Cleaning Latrines by Hand: ‘How Could Any Human Do That?’

When he came to fully realize exactly what his parents and older brother did for a living, and what it likely meant for his own future, Bezwada Wilson says he was so angry he contemplated suicide.

His family members, and his broader community, were manual scavengers, tasked with cleaning by hand human excrement from dry latrines at a government-run gold mine in southern India.

While his parents had tried hard to hide from their youngest child the nature of their work as long as they could — telling Mr. Bezwada they were sweepers — as a student Mr. Bezwada knew his classmates viewed him with cruel condescension. He just didn’t know the reason.

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A Child of Another War Who Makes Music for Ukrainians

When the owner of an underground club in Kyiv reached out to Western musicians to play in Ukraine, long before the war, there were not so many takers.

But an American from Boston, Mirza Ramic, accepted the invitation, spawning a lasting friendship with the club’s owner, Taras Khimchak.

“I kept coming back,” Mr. Ramic, 40, said in an interview at the club, Mezzanine, where he was preparing for a performance during a recent tour of Ukraine.

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A Woman Who Shows Age Is No Barrier to Talk Show Stardom

Pushing a walker through a television studio in central Tokyo earlier this week, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi slowly climbed three steps onto a sound stage with the help of an assistant who settled her into a creamy beige Empire armchair.

A stylist removed the custom-made sturdy boots on her feet and slipped on a pair of high-heeled mules. A makeup artist brushed her cheeks and touched up her blazing red lipstick. A hairdresser tamed a few stray wisps from her trademark onion-shaped hairstyle as another assistant ran a lint roller over her embroidered black jacket. With that, Ms. Kuroyanagi, 90, was ready to record the 12,193rd episode of her show.

As one of Japan’s best-known entertainers for seven decades, Ms. Kuroyanagi has interviewed guests on her talk show, “Tetsuko’s Room,” since 1976, earning a Guinness World Record last fall for most episodes hosted by the same presenter. Generations of Japanese celebrities across film, television, music, theater and sports have visited Ms. Kuroyanagi’s couch, along with American stars like Meryl Streep and Lady Gaga; Prince Philip of England; and Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. Ms. Kuroyanagi said Gorbachev remains one of her all-time favorite guests.

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They Thought They Knew Death, but That Didn’t Prepare Them for Oct. 7

At 76, David Weissenstern has collected the remains of the dead for most of his adult life. But after the Oct. 7 attacks, in which Hamas-led fighters killed about 1,200 people along Israel’s border with Gaza, he can no longer stand the smell of grilled meat. The odor, he says, reminds him too much of burned human flesh.

His son Duby Weissenstern, 48, has lost track of time after working successive days and nights to recover those killed on Oct. 7. He now marks time in relation to that date.

And his son-in-law Israel Ganot, 32, now gags at the smell of food that has turned rotten. He was in the second wave of recovery workers who reached bodies that had been trapped under rubble for weeks.

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Playing Soccer in $1.50 Sandals That Even Gucci Wants to Copy

The wealthy pros of Ivory Coast’s national soccer team were resting in their luxury hotel last week, preparing for a match in Africa’s biggest tournament, when Yaya Camara sprinted onto a dusty lot and began fizzing one pass after another to his friends.

Over and over, he corralled the game’s underinflated ball and then sent it away again with his favorite soccer shoes: worn plastic sandals long derided as the sneaker of the poor, but which he and his friends wear as a badge of honor.

Shiny soccer cleats like his idols’? No thanks, said Mr. Camara, a lean 18-year-old midfielder, as he wiped sweat from his brow.

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Russian Skaters Stripped of Olympic Gold, Setting Up New Fight for Medals

International skating’s governing body on Tuesday sought to put an end to a two-year-old controversy by revising the disputed results of a marquee figure skating competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. But in stripping Russia of its victory in the team event, awarding the gold medal to the United States and denying Canada the bronze it had been expecting, the sport may have only set the stage for yet another protracted legal fight.

The revised finishes were announced by the skating body, the International Skating Union, one day after the teenage Russian star Kamila Valieva was banned for four years for doping. Disqualifying Valieva, a 15-year-old prodigy who had led Russia to an apparent victory, had the most immediate effect on the Olympic team standings: elevating the U.S. to gold and Japan to silver, while, surprisingly, dropping Russia just enough that it could still claim the bronze.

Within hours, Russia’s Olympic committee, already furious about Valieva’s ban, announced that it would appeal any outcome that denied it the team gold. Canadian officials quickly threatened to appeal the ruling as well. That left skating officials and the International Olympic Committee, which had chosen not to award medals in the team event until Valieva’s doping case was resolved, wondering how they could at last arrange a “dignified Olympic medal ceremony” for an ugly dispute that appeared nowhere near its end.

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FIFA Convictions Are Imperiled by Questions of U.S. Overreach

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Nearly a decade after police officers marched world soccer officials out of a luxury hotel in Zurich at dawn, revealing a corruption scandal that shook the world’s most popular sport, the case is at risk of falling apart.

The dramatic turnabout comes over questions of whether American prosecutors overreached by applying U.S. law to a group of people, many of them foreign nationals, who defrauded foreign organizations as they carried out bribery schemes across the world.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year limited a law that was key to the case. Then in September, a federal judge, citing that, threw out the convictions of two defendants linked to soccer corruption. Now, several former soccer officials, including some who paid millions of dollars in penalties and served time in prison, are arguing that the bribery schemes for which they were convicted are no longer considered a crime in the United States.

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Depardieu Sexual Assault Suit Dropped Over Statute of Limitations

A sexual assault lawsuit filed against Gérard Depardieu by a French actress has been dropped because it was past the statute of limitations, prosecutors in Paris said on Monday, but the French actor is still under investigation in a separate case.

In the lawsuit that was dropped, the actress Hélène Darras had accused Depardieu of groping her on the set of “Disco,” a comedy released in 2008. Her suit had been filed in September but was made public only last month, shortly before she appeared in a France 2 television documentary alongside three other women who also accused Depardieu of inappropriate comments or sexual misconduct.

The documentary, which showed Depardieu making crude sexual and sexist comments during a 2018 trip to North Korea, set off a fierce debate in France that prompted President Emmanuel Macron and dozens of actors, directors and other celebrities to defend Depardieu, splitting the French movie industry.

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An Olympic Dream Falters Amid Track’s Shifting Rules

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Maximila Imali, a top Kenyan sprinter, did not lose her eligibility to compete in the Paris Olympics because she cheated. She did not fail a doping test. She broke no rules.

Instead, she is set to miss this year’s Summer Games because she was born with a rare genetic variant that results in naturally elevated levels of testosterone. And last March, track and field’s global governing body ruled that Ms. Imali’s biology gave her an unfair advantage in all events against other women, effectively barring her from international competition.

As a result, Ms. Imali, 27, finds her Olympic dream in peril and her career and her livelihood in limbo.

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En Venezuela, un día eres crítico y al siguiente estás detenido

De todos los críticos del gobierno, pocos pensaban que Rocío San Miguel sería la que iba a desaparecer.

San Miguel, de 57 años, durante mucho tiempo ha sido una de las expertas en seguridad más conocidas de Venezuela, una mujer que se atrevió a investigar al gobierno autoritario de su país incluso cuando otros huían. También es moderada, cuenta con reconocimiento internacional y parecía tener fuertes contactos en el hermético mundo del ejército venezolano, cualidades que sus colegas pensaban que podrían protegerla.

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El Carnaval de Brasil solo empieza cuando llega John Travolta (el que mide 4 metros)

Jack Nicas y Dado Galdieri reportaron este artículo entre los gigantescos muñecos de las celebraciones de Carnaval en Olinda, Brasil

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Era casi el comienzo de una de las celebraciones más famosas del Carnaval en Brasil, en la ciudad costera de Olinda, al norte del país, y la plaza de la ciudad estaba repleta de miles de asistentes. Todos esperaban a su ídolo.

Justo antes de las 9 p. m., las puertas de un salón de baile se abrieron de par en par, una banda de música se abrió paso entre la multitud y salió la estrella que todos habían estado esperando: un muñeco de John Travolta de cuatro metros.

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Una redada israelí en Rafah rescata a 2 rehenes y mata a decenas, según las autoridades

Las fuerzas de operaciones especiales israelíes asaltaron a primera hora del lunes un edificio de la ciudad de Rafah, en el sur de Gaza, y liberaron a dos rehenes que estaban en poder de Hamás, según informó el ejército, mientras Israel lanzaba una oleada de ataques en los que murieron decenas de palestinos en la ciudad, según el ministerio de Salud gazatí.

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La operación nocturna —solo la segunda vez que las fuerzas israelíes dicen haber rescatado a cautivos en Gaza— provocó alegría en Israel, donde el destino de más de 100 personas secuestradas durante el ataque dirigido por Hamás el 7 de octubre se ha convertido en una de las principales prioridades del país.

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Ricardo Martinelli, refugiado en la embajada de Nicaragua, promete hacer campaña desde ahí

El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

Mientras Panamá se preparaba para su ruidosa temporada de Carnaval, las celebraciones del fin de semana se producían en medio de un extraño drama político que tiene lugar en la capital.

Un expresidente, quien también es uno de los principales candidatos en las elecciones presidenciales de mayo de este año, se refugió en la embajada de Nicaragua en Ciudad de Panamá con sus muebles, incluidos un sofá y un escritorio, así como su perro, Bruno.

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Australia introduce el derecho laboral a ‘desconectarse’

Cuando estén fuera del horario laboral y el jefe los esté llamando por teléfono, los trabajadores australianos —que ya figuran entre los más descansados y satisfechos del mundo— podrán pronto tocar la opción “rechazar” para entregarse mejor al dulce llamado de la playa.

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En lo que significó un nuevo refuerzo contra el flagelo del exceso de trabajo, el Senado australiano aprobó el jueves un proyecto de ley que podría otorgarles a los trabajadores el derecho a ignorar llamadas y mensajes fuera del horario laboral sin temor a represalias. Ahora el documento regresará a la Cámara de Representantes para su aprobación definitiva.

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