The New York Times 2024-02-21 10:44:35


Middle East Crisis : U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution Calling for a Cease-Fire in Gaza

The U.S. says the cease-fire resolution would have jeopardized efforts to broker a hostage-release deal.

The United States on Tuesday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution put forth by Algeria that would have called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. It was the third time Washington had blocked a resolution that would have demanded an immediate end to fighting.

Humanitarian agencies, U.N. officials and other diplomats have argued that without a cease-fire, humanitarian aid at the scale that Gaza needs is not possible. The U.N. spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said that the World Food Program, a U.N. agency, was suspending crucial food deliveries in northern Gaza, where the population was at the brink of starvation, because its staff could not operate safely and that the Council should find a unified voice on the war.

The United States said that the resolution would jeopardize Washington’s negotiation efforts with Qatar and Egypt to broker a deal that would release hostages from Gaza in exchange for a temporary humanitarian cease-fire. Those negotiations have stumbled, with neither Israel nor Hamas reaching a consensus on the terms for a deal.

“Any action the council takes right now should help, not hinder, these sensitive and ongoing negotiations,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “Demanding an immediate unconditional cease-fire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring endurable peace.”

Thirteen council members voted in favor. Britain abstained.

Algeria’s ambassador to the U.N., Amar Bendjama, sharply criticized the United States, telling the council that voting against the resolution “implies an endorsement of the brutal violence and collective punishment inflicted upon” the Palestinians. He said “silence is not a viable option, now is the time for action and the time for truth.”

The United States has drafted a rival resolution, which is still in early stages of negotiations, that calls for a temporary humanitarian cease-fire as soon as practical, and the release of hostages. The draft resolution, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, also states that Israel’s army must not carry out an offensive in Rafah under the current conditions there. More than a million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, many of them displaced multiple times.

The United States was expected to circulate its resolution on Tuesday afternoon among Council members to start negotiations, according to diplomats. Two Security Council diplomats said that the resolution would be challenged, given the U.S. veto on Tuesday, and that Russia and China were expected to veto and block the U.S. from imposing its views on the majority of the Council.

Diplomats said that a number of Council members were angry that a draft of the U.S. resolution had been leaked to the media and shared on social media ahead of the Council’s vote on Algeria’s resolution and before any Council members, including European allies, had had the chance to see it. They suggested that the U.S. appeared to want to do damage control before its veto.

But many of the diplomats have grown frustrated with the United States, saying it has prioritized its own diplomatic negotiations at the expense of the Council’s wider efforts, undermining the ability of the U.N. body to do its job. In October, the United States vetoed a humanitarian resolution, put forth by Brazil, to deliver aid to Gaza at a time when Israel had placed the strip under a strict blockade of essential aid, saying it could undermine President Biden’s efforts with the government of Israel to win aid delivery to Gaza.

Russia and China condemned the United States’ veto. “It is not that the Security Council does not have an overwhelming consensus, but rather it is the exercise of the veto by the United States that has stifled the Council consensus,” said China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun, adding that while the United States vetoed the cease-fire, civilians were getting killed and suffering.

Israel orders evacuations in Gaza City, as the U.N. suspends food deliveries to the north because of looting.

Israel’s military ordered two neighborhoods of Gaza City to evacuate on Tuesday amid signs of hunger and mounting desperation in the northern part of the enclave at a time when the focus of Israel’s offensive has shifted south.

The evacuations came as the World Food Program halted deliveries in the north on Tuesday, describing scenes of chaos as its teams faced looting, hungry crowds and gunfire in recent days.

The fiercest fighting and most intense bombing has in recent weeks shifted south to areas around Khan Younis and Rafah. But the evacuation order from Israel’s military on Tuesday for the Zaytoun and Turkoman neighborhoods of Gaza City raised the possibility of further military moves in the north.

Northern Gaza has been decimated by four months of bombardment, and continued fighting there between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters has severely hindered deliveries of aid to the estimated 300,000 people still in the area, who the United Nations has warned face starvation.

The W.F.P. had suspended its deliveries for the past three weeks because of safety concerns, and on Sunday the agency tried to restart them, but “crowds of hungry people” surrounded the initial convoy as it was going to Gaza City, and aid workers were forced to fend off people trying to climb onto the trucks, the organization said in a statement.

Another convoy on Monday “faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order,” the statement added, saying that several trucks were looted and a driver was beaten.

The W.F.P. said it did not take the decision to suspend deliveries in Gaza’s north lightly, adding that it meant “more people risk dying of hunger.”

“W.F.P. is deeply committed to urgently reaching desperate people across Gaza but the safety and security to deliver critical food aid — and for the people receiving it — must be ensured,” the statement said.

It cited the “unprecedented levels of desperation” witnessed by its teams as evidence of Gaza’s “precipitous slide into hunger” and pointed to a U.N. report published on Monday that said acute malnutrition had surged in the northern part of the enclave.

Northern Gaza was the initial target of Israel’s military offensive. As Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza, the military urged civilians to move south for their own safety.

Hundreds of thousands heeded the calls, and more than half of Gaza’s population is now crowded into Rafah, living in temporary lodgings and tents. But widespread shortages of food and water, coupled with concerns that nowhere in Gaza was truly safe, prompted some of the displaced to return to the north.

The new evacuation notice given by Israel’s military on Tuesday told people in the two Gaza City neighborhoods to move to an area around the seaside village of Al-Mawasi, west of Khan Younis in the southern part of the enclave. The notice was posted in Arabic on social media, but communication networks have been severely disrupted in Gaza, so it was unclear how many people saw it.

Ameera Harouda and Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.

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

The W.H.O. says Nasser hospital is still without power, which Israel denies.

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis had no electricity or running water after an Israeli raid last week, calling the destruction around the hospital “indescribable” and saying piles of medical waste and garbage were breeding disease.

But Israeli authorities pushed back on the W.H.O.’s description of dire conditions at the hospital, maintaining that the facility had sufficient medical supplies and that Israel had delivered a generator for the intensive care unit and food for the remaining patients.

Israeli forces raided the grounds of the facility — one of the last and largest hospitals still in operation in Gaza — late Thursday. Videos posted online showed chaotic scenes from inside smoke-filled corridors. The military said it had arrested 20 people who had participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and had found mortar shells and grenades it said belonged to the militant group.

According to the W.H.O., an estimated 130 sick and injured patients and at least 15 doctors and nurses remain inside the hospital.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Friday that the electric generators powering the hospital had stopped, and that five patients had died as a result. In a statement on Tuesday, the W.H.O. said that the hospital’s intensive care unit was not functioning and that, aside from minimal supplies it had been able to bring in, the remaining patients and staff were “cut off from aid.” The last remaining patient in the I.C.U. had been transferred to a ward where patients are receiving basic care, the W.H.O. said.

Col. Moshe Tetro, the head of the Israeli government agency that oversees aid in Gaza, said at a news conference that there had been electric power in the intensive care unit throughout the operation. He said Israel had delivered a generator to ensure this was the case.

He acknowledged that there were problems with power outages in other parts of the hospital, but he said the issues were not related to Israel’s raid last week.

Neither the Israeli claims nor those of the W.H.O. and the Gaza Health Ministry could be independently verified.

Colonel Tetro also said that Israel had delivered “large amounts of water, food and baby food for those remaining in the hospital.” Based on conversations with the hospital’s staff, he added that “it is our understanding that there is no shortage of medical supplies at the moment.”

Colonel Tetro said that Israel has also assisted in transferring patients to other places for treatment since the raid.

Before the raid, the Israeli military ordered an evacuation of thousands of displaced people who had taken shelter at the hospital. Israel has repeatedly said that Hamas uses hospitals for military activities, a claim Hamas regularly denies.

The Israeli military said that the raid was based partly on intelligence that hostages taken by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel had been held at the complex and that their bodies might be there. No hostages have been reported as found.

On Friday, the Israeli military said medication bearing the names of Israeli hostages had been discovered during a search. The source of the drugs and how they were used was being investigated, the military said in a statement.

While Israel and Hamas reached a deal last month to deliver medications to the remaining hostages, it has been unclear if any had reached the captives. Qatar, which has served as a mediator, said on Tuesday that Hamas had confirmed that it had received the medications and that it had started delivering them.

Leaders of aid groups denounce the United States for vetoing a cease-fire resolution.

Leaders of several humanitarian organizations on Tuesday sharply denounced the United States for vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, criticizing the country for not doing more to use its international influence to prevent further death and destruction.

“Again, the U.S. has weaponized its veto power to obstruct, to undermine, the possibility of the U.N. Security Council taking action by calling for a cease-fire,” Amnesty’s director for global research and policy, Erika Guevara-Rosas, said at a media briefing held as the United States vetoed the resolution. Representatives from several international medical aid groups had convened to discuss the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The veto was expected; the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Sunday that the resolution, presented by Algeria, would jeopardize ongoing talks to free hostages in Gaza. The United States has vetoed resolutions calling for a cease-fire twice before, standing alone among the other Security Council members.

Avril Benoit, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the United States, called the repeated blocking of cease-fire resolutions by the United States “unconscionable,” denouncing the decision as “effectively sabotaging all efforts to bring assistance.”

The United States is negotiating an alternative resolution, which proposes a temporary cease-fire contingent on the return of all hostages and greater aid being allowed into Gaza, but some speakers on Tuesday’s panel dismissed it as too weak or impractical.

Jeremy Konyndyk, the president of Refugees International, said the calls by the United States for a plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah were “a mirage,” arguing that the rest of Gaza was “almost entirely uninhabitable” and there was no safe way for them to leave.

“It worries me, actually, to be hearing this from the U.S. government, this idea of a safe evacuation, because it suggests that such a thing is possible,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has ordered the military to draw up plans to evacuate civilians in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza packed with about 1.4 million people, many of whom moved there months before seeking shelter. Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, also said that the government had no intention of evacuating Palestinian civilians into Egypt.

Tsafrir Cohen, the executive director of the aid group Medico International, called on Israel’s two closest allies — the United States and Germany — to stop giving the Israeli government “carte blanche” and to condition their military support on ending the fighting, preventing further displacement in Gaza or into Egypt, and increased humanitarian aid entering the enclave.

South Africa says Palestinians endure ‘a more extreme form of apartheid.’

At a hearing before the U.N.’s highest court, South Africa on Tuesday called Israel’s policies toward Palestinians an “extreme form of apartheid” and argued that its occupation of territory sought for an eventual Palestinian state was “fundamentally illegal.”

The hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague is one of two matters being heard about Israel, part of a concerted effort to leverage the authority of the court and the global reach of the U.N. to stop the war in Gaza and examine the legality of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

Starting this week and lasting six days, the court is hearing arguments on Israel’s conduct, following a request by the United Nations General Assembly more than a year ago. In the other matter, a case, which began in January, South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide in its ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.

Israel has strongly rejected those accusations.

The latest proceedings, which began on Monday, focus on the legality of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian-majority territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. South Africa and many other countries that have asked to address the court argue that Israel’s decades-long occupation violates the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and that its security apparatus, including a giant wall, amounts to racial segregation.

More than 50 countries and three regional blocs are scheduled to argue before the 15-judge bench over the next week, a level of participation never before seen at the court.

The hearings on Israel’s policies have gained urgency amid the bloodshed of the war in Gaza. They come less than a month after the court ordered Israel to restrain its attacks in the Hamas-controlled territory in the genocide case.

The court is expected to answer the questions on the legality of Israel’s conduct with an advisory opinion that will be nonbinding.

Palestinians “continue to be subjected to discriminating land zoning and planning policies, to punitive house demolitions and violent incursions into their villages, towns and cities,” South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela, said in an address to the court on Tuesday.

Israel has long rejected accusations that it operates an apartheid system, calling such allegations a slur and pointing to a history of being singled out for condemnation by U.N. bodies and tribunals.

Also on Tuesday, the 22-nation Arab Group of the U.N. submitted a resolution to the Security Council calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. The United States vetoed the resolution for the third time.

Israel said it would not participate in this week’s hearings in The Hague, saying the premise before the court was unwarranted and biased. Last year, Israel delivered a letter to the court in which it argued that the focus of the proceedings failed to “recognize Israel’s right and duty to protect its citizens,” to recognize Israel’s security or to take into account years of agreements with the Palestinians to negotiate “the permanent status of the territory, security arrangements, settlements and borders.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a statement on Monday that the case is “part of the Palestinian attempt to dictate the results of the political agreement without negotiations.”

The war in Gaza, which the Gazan Health Ministry said has killed more than 29,000 people and which was started by last year’s Hamas-led terrorist attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200, is foremost in the public’s mind, but it is not the war most relevant to the present hearings.

Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbors. Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005. It considers parts of the occupied West Bank to be disputed territory, and has built settlements there, which much of the world considers illegal. After the 1967 war, Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem and considers the unified city its capital.

South Africa and other speakers have argued that the proliferation of Jewish settlements, many of which are full-fledged towns, suggests that the occupation is not temporary, but permanent.

Support for the Palestinians has long been a popular rallying cry in South Africa and its governing party, the African National Congress, has often compared Israel’s policies to those of apartheid-era South Africa.

In his arguments on Tuesday, Mr. Madonsela, the South African diplomat, recalled his country’s history of racial segregation and invoked one of apartheid’s most famous critics, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Citing the separate court systems, land zoning rules, roads and housing rights for Palestinians, he said Israel had put in place a “two-tier system of laws, rules and services” that benefit Jewish settlers while “denying Palestinians rights.”

Mr. Madonsela quoted a 2010 statement from Archbishop Tutu, in which the Nobel laureate said Israel maintains a system for the “two populations in the West Bank, which provides preferential services, development and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable.”

South Africans see “an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against Black people in my country,” Mr. Madonsela said. He said that South Africa had a special obligation to call out apartheid practices wherever they occur. He also called on Israel to dismantle the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank, which the court had ordered be removed in 2004 and still stands.

The United States is scheduled to make arguments on Wednesday.

The judges are expected to take roughly five months to issue their advisory opinion.

One in six children in northern Gaza is severely malnourished, UNICEF says.

The United Nations’ children’s agency has warned that acute malnutrition has surged in Gaza, with one out of six children in the north of the territory suffering its effects amid dire shortages of food and water.

The agency, UNICEF, said in a statement on Monday that the estimate was based on data collected through nutrition screenings at shelters and health centers last month, and that the situation was “likely to be even graver today.”

Humanitarian agencies have accused Israel of restricting aid deliveries to northern Gaza, which was the first area of the enclave targeted by Israel’s military offensive and has been devastated by four months of bombardment and ground fighting. Israel has denied blocking aid deliveries.

In southern Gaza, where more than a million people from northern Gaza have fled, UNICEF said that five percent of children under the age of two are acutely malnourished.

“There is a high risk that malnutrition will continue to rise across the Gaza Strip due to the alarming lack of food, water and health and nutrition services,” it added in the statement, expressing alarm that the enclave was “poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths.”

Calling the surge in malnutrition “dangerous and highly preventable,” U.N. aid officials reiterated pleas for additional humanitarian aid and access for Gaza.

The war between Israel and Hamas has exacerbated an already grim situation: Even before Oct. 7, nearly 70 percent of Gazans were dependent on humanitarian assistance for food because the territory has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.

Israel’s military releases videos showing Bibas family members in captivity on Oct. 7.

Relatives of an Israeli mother and child who appeared to be shown in captivity in Gaza in newly released videos from the day of the Hamas-led attack said Tuesday they hoped the footage would call attention to the urgency of freeing the hostages.

The Israeli military distributed videos Monday evening that it said showed members of the Bibas family in the area of Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Oct. 7. The New York Times could not immediately verify the footage, which showed a figure being covered in a blanket while appearing to hold a redheaded child.

In a tearful news conference, Ofri Bibas-Levy, the sister of Yarden Bibas, who was taken captive along with his wife Shiri and their two red-haired children, Ariel and Kfir, said that she was desperately calling on Israeli and international leaders to bring her relatives home through a negotiated deal.

“When we saw the video, it really tore our hearts out,” Ms. Bibas-Levy said.

The fate of the Bibas family has been murky. In late November, Hamas claimed that Ms. Bibas and the children had been killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Israeli officials have not confirmed the claim.

The Bibas family was taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz, a town along Israel’s border with Gaza where more than 70 of the roughly 240 hostages were seized. Kfir, who was nine months old at the time of his capture, is the youngest hostage in Gaza. Israeli officials estimate that about 130 hostages remain in captivity, although at least 30 of those are thought to be dead.

In the videos, which the Israeli military said were taken from security cameras in Khan Younis, red hair on the back of a child’s head can be seen over the shoulder of a barefooted figure walking along a dirt path, as if the child is being carried. Surrounded by a few men, at least one of whom is armed, the figures are draped in a blue-and-white-patterned blanket and transferred into a car.

Kfir is not seen in the videos, but Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said in a news briefing that the baby was likely in a carrier on his mother’s chest, as he was when the family was captured in Israel. He did not say how the authorities had confirmed the identities.

The Israeli military could not confirm whether Ms. Bibas and her children are alive or dead, but Admiral Hagari said that based on the information available to them, “we are very concerned and worried about the condition and well-being of Shiri and the children.”

He added that “we are making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.”

The fate of the Bibas family has captivated Israel’s public, and the release of the videos made headlines in Israeli media. Yedioth Ahronoth, a popular Israeli daily, led its front page with an article titled “A Mother and Two Small Souls, Led Into the Darkness.”

“I know they became a symbol,” Ms. Bibas-Levy said, “but for us it’s our family, and we want them back.”

Prince William calls for an end to the fighting in Gaza ‘as soon as possible.’

Prince William, the heir to the British throne, called on Tuesday for an end to the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible in a rare, if measured, public statement on the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“I remain deeply concerned about the terrible human cost of the conflict in the Middle East since the Hamas terrorist attack” on Oct. 7, the prince said in comments issued by his office. “Too many have been killed.”

He added: “I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible. There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. It’s critical that aid gets in and the hostages are released.”

By tradition, the British royal family keeps itself out of politics, and its members usually avoid intervening in contentious issues.

Prince William’s comments came ahead of a meeting in London on Tuesday with the Red Cross, where he was to be updated on humanitarian efforts to support people affected by the conflict. Later this month, he is expected to visit a synagogue to join a discussion with members of the Holocaust Educational Trust, which campaigns against hatred and antisemitism.

The prince’s statement added, “Sometimes it is only when faced with the sheer scale of human suffering that the importance of permanent peace is brought home,” and that “even in the darkest hour we must not succumb to the counsel of despair.”

It concluded: “I continue to cling to the hope that a brighter future can be found and I refuse to give up on that.”

A legal fight ensues after some Israelis donate money to settlers hit with U.S. sanctions.

Within weeks of President Biden imposing financial sanctions on Israelis accused of violent assaults in the occupied West Bank, crowdfunding campaigns on behalf of two of the men had collected the equivalent of more than $170,000.

Far-right Israelis pledged the funds in a show of support for the settlers, whose efforts to exert Israeli control over lands in the West Bank have often involved maintaining illegal outposts and assaulting and intimidating Palestinians. But the donations have become the focus of a legal battle after an Israeli credit card company balked at transferring the funds.

Cal, the credit card company processing the donations for Yinon Levi, one of the settlers hit with sanctions, refused to send the money designated for Mr. Levi and stated that it would reimburse those who had donated, according to the nonprofit group that set up the crowdfunding campaign. The group appealed to an Israeli court, arguing that the donations were intended for Mr. Levi’s family, including his three children, and should not be affected by the U.S. restrictions.

Last week, a court in Tel Aviv issued a temporary injunction while it hears arguments in the matter.

The sanctions that the Biden administration announced on Feb. 1 barred four Israelis from the U.S. financial system, and some Israeli banks have enacted restrictions on the men in order to not run afoul of the American measures.

Mr. Levi, whom the U.S. State Department accused of leading settler groups in attacks on Palestinian and Bedouin civilians, told ABC News that he had been unable to access his money in Israel and would struggle to pay workers on his farm. David Chai Chasdai, who the State Department said had led a deadly riot in the Palestinian town of Huwara, told an Israeli television channel that he couldn’t pay his phone bills or his children’s kindergarten fees.

On Feb. 6, a campaign in support of Mr. Levi — who last week was also hit with sanctions by Britain — appeared on the Israeli crowdfunding platform Givechack featuring a photo of him, his wife Sapir Levi and their three children. The campaign portrayed the family as victims of harassment by the Israeli left and emphasized its financial plight since Mr. Levi’s accounts were frozen.

Within 10 days the campaign had raised over 517,000 Israeli shekels ($141,000). Then the nonprofit group that organized it took it down. Reut Gez, the director of the nonprofit, the Mount Hebron Fund, said in an interview that Cal, the Israeli credit card company, “asked us to take down the campaign, and are withholding the funds.” The group filed a lawsuit to get the company to release the money either to it or to a trustee that would manage the funds for the family.

The Mount Hebron Fund was founded in 2015 by the Mount Hebron Regional Council, a state-funded local authority in the West Bank, and is managed by council members and their relatives, according to the Democratic Bloc, a group that monitors the Israeli far right. Ms. Gez said that all the donations for the Levi family had come from Israel.

The campaign to support Mr. Chasdai has raised 114,000 shekels, roughly $31,000, through a separate crowdfunding platform. Those funds have been collected by the nonprofit Shlom Asiraich, which aids Israeli Jewish extremists imprisoned for serious crimes, including murder, largely against Palestinians.

The crowdfunding efforts show that even though most Israelis, according to opinion surveys, oppose settler violence, there is sympathy on the far right for those facing financial penalties. But the sweeping nature of the U.S. sanctions means that financial institutions would be reluctant to participate in efforts to direct money to Mr. Levi or others, experts said.

“The language of the order suggests that anyone who enables or provides funds to sanctioned persons is implicated and risks repercussions themselves,” said Eliav Lieblich, a law professor at Tel Aviv University. “No one wants to mess with the U.S. Treasury.”

Gazan tailors used to make wedding dresses. Now they’re sewing diapers.

Inside a factory that used to sell wedding gowns, tailors in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, make diapers out of Covid-19 protective gear. The diapers are a great help to parents who are struggling to keep their babies dry and offer some relief to Gazans short of necessities after months of war.

Strongmen Find New Ways to Abuse Interpol, Despite Years of Fixes

For years, strongmen and autocrats had a novel weapon in their hunt for political enemies. They used Interpol, the world’s largest police organization, to reach across borders and grab them — even in democracies.

An award-winning Venezuelan journalist was detained in Peru. An Egyptian asylum seeker was stopped in Australia. And Russia has tried repeatedly to secure the arrest of William F. Browder, a London-based human rights campaigner.

In response, Interpol has toughened oversight of its arrest alerts, known as red notices, making it harder than ever to misuse them. But as Interpol adapted, so did strongmen. They have turned to the agency’s lesser-known systems to pursue dissidents, a New York Times investigation has found.

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Wife, Protector and Now Political Heir: Yulia Navalnaya Rallies Russians

It was August 2020, and Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of Russia’s most famous opposition leader, was striding through the battered, gloomy hallways of a provincial Russian hospital, looking for the room where her husband lay in a coma.

Aleksei A. Navalny had collapsed after being given what German medical investigators would later declare was a near-fatal dose of the nerve agent Novichok, and his wife, blocked by menacing policemen from moving around the hospital, turned to a cellphone camera held by one of his aides.

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Protesting Polish Farmers Block Much of Ukraine’s Western Border

As the war continued to rage in Ukraine’s east, much of its Western border was blocked on Tuesday by another fight, this one with Polish farmers.

The farmers have for months been protesting an influx of Ukrainian products that they say is crowding the Polish market and undercutting their livelihood. On Tuesday, they obstructed check points for commercial transportation, halted the passage of about 3,000 Ukrainian trucks and opened some train cars containing Ukrainian grain, spilling it onto the rails.

“It’s either us or them,” a Polish farmer said on Tuesday on the Polish TV channel Polsat News. “Someone must be interested in us.”

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Russian Pilot Who Defected to Ukraine Is Believed Dead in Spain

Maksim Kuzminov pulled off a daring escape last summer when he defected to Ukraine and handed his military helicopter over to Ukrainian commandos in exchange for half a million dollars.

Ukraine trumpeted the defection as a major coup. But in Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, he was guilty of the most grievous sin anyone can commit: Treason. Ukrainian intelligence officials warned Mr. Kuzminov that his life was in danger and urged him not to leave the country.

But he ignored them, and was believed to have moved with his money to a small resort town of pastel houses on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

Now Mr. Kuzminov, 28 at the time of his defection, appears to have met the harsh fate Ukrainian officials warned of. Two Spanish police officials with knowledge of the case said the body of a man found riddled with bullets last week in the coastal town of Villajoyosa belonged to Mr. Kuzminov.

Andriy Cherniak, a representative of Ukraine’s military intelligence, also said he could “confirm the fact of his death,” referring to Mr. Kuzminov, but he declined to elaborate on the circumstances.

Authorities released no information about possible assailants or a motive, and they have not publicly confirmed the identity. The case has been complicated by puzzling statements issued by the Civil Guard, a branch of Spain’s national police forces, which at one point said the papers found on the body identified him as a 33-year-old Ukrainian man. But they added that the documents may be fake.

The death of such a high profile defector is likely to fuel speculation that it was the work of Russia’s intelligence services and exacerbate already heightened tensions between Moscow and European capitals. President Vladimir V. Putin has made no secret of his deep disdain for defectors and has allowed targeted assassinations of Russian informants abroad, Western security officials say.

Moscow’s foreign intelligence chief appeared to support the idea that Mr. Kuzminov was dead with comments that condemned his defection. “This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment he planned his dirty and terrible crime,” Sergei Naryshkin told the Russian state news agency TASS on Tuesday, commenting on media reports of Mr. Kuzminov’s death.

Word of Mr. Kuzminov’s death came just a few days after Aleksei A. Navalny, Mr. Putin’s most prominent political adversary, died in a Russian prison, exposing what several Western leaders said are the Kremlin’s brutal tactics against its opponents. “Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” President Biden said on Friday.

Ukrainian authorities said the defection of Mr. Kuzminov was the culmination of a six-month operation, code-named “Titmouse,” which was made public in late August. In a documentary released by the intelligence services, Mr. Kuzminov said he had “contacted representatives of Ukrainian intelligence” and agreed to cooperate after being told he would be guaranteed safety in Ukraine and receive new identity documents and a compensation.

Mr. Kuzminov said he had flown his Mi-8 helicopter into Ukrainian territory at low altitude and in radio-silence mode to evade detection. He landed in Vovchansk, a town near Ukraine’s northeastern border with Russia, where Ukrainian special forces were waiting for him, according to footage from the documentary.

The operation to seize Mr. Kuzminov’s aircraft did not go completely smoothly. When his Russian crew mates saw Ukrainian commandos surrounding the helicopter, they tried to force Mr. Kuzminov to take off, and opened fire. Ukrainian fighters returned fire and killed the crew members, the Ukrainian official said.

“Otherwise, they could have killed Kuzminov and escaped in the aircraft,” he said. Mr. Kuzminov was also injured during the operation.

Mr. Kuzminov said in the documentary that he defected because he opposed Russia’s war in Ukraine and did not want to contribute to it. He encouraged other Russian servicemen to follow in his footsteps. “Of course if you do what I did, this kind of act, you will not regret it at all,” he said.

His defection was presented as a major coup for Kyiv, bringing to Ukraine’s depleted air fleet a precious piece of aircraft, as well as intelligence about Russian military operations from a highly trained pilot.

Mr. Kuzminov provided “valuable evidence about Russia’s army aviation, communication systems, and airfield network to our military intelligence,” the documentary said, comparing the defection to Operation Diamond, a mission by Israel’s Mossad intelligence services to capture a Soviet-built MiG-21 fighter jet flown by an Iraqi defector. Ukraine said it was the first time a Russian pilot defected since Moscow invaded in February 2022.

“Kuzminov had access to state secrets. He carried classified documents and items onboard the hijacked helicopter,” a representative of Russia’s counterintelligence services told Russian television in a report on the defection.

Ukrainian authorities said the pilot’s family had been extracted from Russia to Ukraine before his defection. Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the intelligence services, told Ukrainian television that Mr. Kuzminov would receive a $500,000 reward for his services.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Spain has become a haven for disenchanted Russians, many of whom have moved to the warmer coastal areas, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics. About 20 percent live in the province of Alicante where Mr. Kuzminov’s body was believed to have been found.

Mr. Kuzminov’s activities in Ukraine, and then in Spain, remain unclear. In Spain, he lived in a modest apartment building less than a 10 minute walk from the beach in a neighborhood popular with Ukrainian and Russian tourists.

The Russian television report featured unnamed officers of Russia’s intelligence services saying they would seek revenge. “Of course we’ll find him,” one of them said. “Our long arms can reach everywhere.”

José Bautista and Rachel Chaundler contributed reporting.

‘Beginning of the End’ as Assange Case Returns to Court

Since 2019, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been held in a high security prison in southeast London while his lawyers fight a U.S. extradition order. Now, that particular battle may be nearing its end.

On Tuesday, Mr. Assange’s case returned to a British court for a two-day hearing that will determine whether he has exhausted his right to appeal within the U.K. and whether he could be one step closer to being sent to the United States.

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That ‘Unimaginable’ Smell in Cape Town? A Docked Ship With 19,000 Cows.

When a smell so foul that locals called it “unimaginable” wafted over Cape Town this week, a search for the source of the stench choking the scenic South African tourist destination led to the city’s harbor.

Nearly a mile from the dock on Monday morning, Terence van der Walt, a local wine distributor, was stuck in traffic when the odor, made worse by the hot summer weather, began to drift into his car. With a smell so enveloping, rolling up his windows felt pointless.

“It was so putrid,” Mr. van der Walt said on Tuesday, describing his experience. “It would have been green if this were a cartoon.”

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Women Outnumber Men in South Korea’s Sports Stadiums

Each time the South Korean men’s soccer team scored against Singapore during a recent 5-0 rout in a World Cup qualifier, the roar from the home crowd came largely from women, who held nearly two-thirds of the tickets to the match.

In the Seoul stadium that November day, a billboard-size banner for the star striker Son Heung-min had been made by a women-only group. A banner for one of his teammates — “Cho Gue-sung wins the day” — had been signed by a club called “Women Rooting for Cho Gue-sung’s Pursuit of Happiness.”

The scene illustrated a fact that has puzzled experts in one of the world’s most patriarchal societies: In sports, South Korean women generally outnumber men in the stands.

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Can the Olympics Rejuvenate One of France’s Poorest Corners?

Parisians are already grumbling about the crowds for this summer’s Olympics. They envision sweaty tourists jamming the subway cars, making the hell of commuting even more, well, hellish. They are planning their summer escapes; at worst a “télétravail” schedule to work from home.

But not Ivan Buyukocakm. Glancing out at a corner known for drug dealing near his family’s kebab shop in the low-income district just north of Paris, he sees the upcoming Olympics as heralding something totally different: opportunity.

“They are redoing the streets and refurbishing buildings,” said Mr. Buyukocakm, as a woman in a thin coat dragged a grocery trolley toward a dilapidated housing project. “This area is going to be improved. Life could get better.”


The map locates Seine-Saint-Denis, a suburb northeast of Paris.

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Yulia Navalnaya’s Account Is Briefly Suspended by X

The social media platform X temporarily suspended on Tuesday an account created by Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Aleksei A. Navalny, and then restored it, saying it had been mistakenly flagged by its automated security protocols.

Ms. Navalnaya opened the account on Monday to announce that she would continue her husband’s work advocating for a free, peaceful and democratic Russia in the wake of her husband’s death in a remote Arctic prison. More than 90,000 users followed the account in its first 24 hours.

But on Tuesday, the account and its activity suddenly disappeared, replaced by the words “Account suspended” and a note that X — the social media company formerly known as Twitter — “suspends accounts which violate the X Rules.”

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South Korean Doctors Walk Out, Protesting Plan to Increase Their Ranks

Hundreds of interns and residents at major South Korean hospitals walked off the job on Tuesday, disrupting an essential service to protest the government’s plan to address a shortage of doctors by admitting more students to medical school.

While South Korea takes pride in its affordable health care system, it has among the fewest physicians per capita in the developed world. Its rapidly aging population underscores the acute need for more doctors, according to the government, especially in rural parts of the country and in areas like emergency medicine.

The protesters, who are doctors in training and crucial for keeping hospitals running, say the shortage of doctors is not industrywide but confined to particular specialties, like emergency care. They say the government is ignoring the issues that have made working in those areas unappealing: harsh working conditions and low wages for interns and residents.

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Inside Aleksei Navalny’s Final Months, in His Own Words

Confined to cold, concrete cells and often alone with his books, Aleksei A. Navalny sought solace in letters. To one acquaintance, he wrote in July that no one could understand Russian prison life “without having been here,” adding in his deadpan humor: “But there’s no need to be here.”

“If they’re told to feed you caviar tomorrow, they’ll feed you caviar,” Mr. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, wrote to the same acquaintance, Ilia Krasilshchik, in August. “If they’re told to strangle you in your cell, they’ll strangle you.”

Many details about his last months — as well as the circumstances of his death, which the Russian authorities announced on Friday — remain unknown; even the whereabouts of his body are unclear.

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Russia Arrests U.S. Citizen, Accusing Her of Treason by Aiding Ukraine

Russia’s main security agency said on Tuesday that it had arrested a dual citizen of Russia and the United States on accusations of committing state treason by raising funds for Ukraine.

The Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., identified the detainee as a 33-year-old woman who lives in Los Angeles. It said in a statement that she had raised money for a Ukrainian organization that bought weapons and other equipment for Ukraine’s military.

Perviy Otdel, a group of Russian lawyers who specialize in cases involving accusations of treason and other politically charged allegations, said that the woman had been accused of treason for sending just over $50 to Razom for Ukraine, a New York-based nonprofit organization that sends assistance to the country.

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4 Ways Autocrats Have Used Interpol to Harass Faraway Enemies

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Interpol is the world’s largest police organization. It serves as a powerful bulletin board that governments and law enforcement agencies use to team up to pursue fugitives across the globe. At its best, it helps track down killers and terrorists.

But it is also a novel weapon for strongmen and autocrats in the hunt for political enemies, giving them the power to reach across borders and grab their targets — even in democracies.

Here are some of the ways countries can exploit Interpol:

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Where Hostage Families and Supporters Gather, for Solace and Protest

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A week after Hamas-led terrorists stormed his kibbutz and kidnapped his wife and three young children, Avihai Brodutch planted himself on the sidewalk in front of army headquarters in Tel Aviv holding a sign scrawled with the words “My family’s in Gaza,” and said he would not budge until they were brought home.

Passers-by stopped to commiserate with him and to try to lift his spirits. They brought him coffee, platters of food and changes of clothing, and welcomed him to their homes to wash up and get some sleep.

“They were so kind, and they just couldn’t do enough,” said Mr. Brodutch, 42, an agronomist who grew pineapples on Kibbutz Kfar Azza before the attacks on Oct. 7. “It was Israel at its finest,” he said. “There was a feeling of a common destiny.”

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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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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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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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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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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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La salud de Navalny se vio perjudicada por las condiciones carcelarias

Alexéi Navalny se presentaba a sí mismo como invencible, utilizando constantemente su característico humor para dar a entender que el presidente Vladimir Putin no podría doblegarlo, por terribles que fueran sus condiciones en prisión.

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Pero detrás de esa cara valiente, la realidad era evidente. Desde su encarcelamiento a principios de 2021, Navalny, la figura más formidable de la oposición rusa, y sus colaboradores indicaron constantemente que sus condiciones eran tan sombrías que lo estaban matando a cámara lenta.

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La disputa territorial entre Belice y Guatemala sigue siendo una preocupación en la región

Simón Romero y Alejandro Cegarra pasaron varios días en Belice, viajando en barco hasta el río Sarstoon y atravesando el país en auto para hablar con la gente sobre el conflicto con Guatemala.

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El barco se abrió paso entre los manglares, un enmarañado laberinto de ramas cubiertas de espinas que cobijaban jaguares y ruidosos monos aulladores. Las señales de nuestros GPS señalaban que estábamos en Belice, el país centroamericano de habla inglesa donde piratas británicos se instalaron hace siglos.

Pero algunos miembros del ejército guatemalteco, vestidos con camuflaje y boinas, nos vieron. Se acercaron en su propia embarcación, empuñaron fusiles y acercaron los dedos índices a los gatillos.

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Alexéi Navalny, crítico de Putin, muere en prisión, según las autoridades rusas

Andrew E. Kramer y

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Alexéi Navalny, activista anticorrupción que durante más de una década lideró la oposición política en la Rusia del presidente Vladimir Putin, murió el viernes en una prisión en el círculo polar ártico, informaron las autoridades rusas.

Su muerte fue anunciada por el Servicio Penitenciario Federal de Rusia, que declaró que Navalny, de 47 años, perdió el conocimiento el viernes luego de dar un paseo en la prisión a la que fue trasladado a finales del año pasado. La última vez que se le vio fue el jueves, cuando compareció en una audiencia judicial por videoconferencia; sonreía tras los barrotes de una celda y hacía bromas.

[El video a continuación muestra imágenes del medio de comunicación ruso SOTA en donde aparece Alexéi Navalny riendo y haciendo bromas entre rejas durante su última comparecencia ante el tribunal a través de una conexión de video].

Leonid Volkov, durante mucho tiempo jefe de gabinete de Navalny, dijo que aún no estaba preparado para aceptar la noticia de que Navalny había muerto. “No tenemos motivos para creer en la propaganda estatal”, escribió Volkov en la plataforma social X. “Si esto es cierto, entonces no es ‘Navalny murió’, sino ‘Putin mató a Navalny’, y solo eso. Pero no les confío ni un centavo”.

Navalny estaba cumpliendo diversas condenas que probablemente lo habrían mantenido en prisión hasta al menos 2031 por cargos que, según sus partidarios, fueron en gran medida fabricados en un esfuerzo por amordazarlo. A pesar de las condiciones cada vez más arduas, que incluían reiteradas temporadas en régimen de aislamiento, mantuvo una presencia en redes sociales, mientras que los integrantes de su equipo seguían publicando investigaciones sobre la élite corrupta de Rusia desde el exilio.

Navalny fue condenado a tres años y medio de prisión en febrero de 2021, después de que regresó a Rusia desde Alemania, donde se había estado recuperando luego de ser envenenado con una sustancia neurotóxica en agosto del año previo. En marzo de 2022, recibió una condena de nueve años por malversación y fraude en un juicio que los observadores internacionales denunciaron como “motivado políticamente” y una “farsa”. Y en agosto de 2023, fue condenado a 19 años de prisión por “extremismo”.

Tras su envenenamiento en 2020, Navalny había regresado prácticamente de entre los muertos y había hecho huelgas de hambre para mejorar su situación; muchos de sus partidarios lo creían prácticamente invencible.

Durante su detención, Navalny fue sometido de manera reiterada a confinamiento solitario y aseguró que sufría de enfermedades graves. En diciembre, desapareció por tres semanas durante su traslado a una colonia penal a unos 65 kilómetros al norte del círculo polar ártico.

Navalny fue un crítico inquebrantable de Putin, un antiguo oficial de la KGB al que acusó de apropiarse de las ganancias del petróleo para enriquecer a sus amigos y a su entorno en los servicios de seguridad. Afirmaba que el partido político de Putin era una organización de “estafadores y ladrones”, y acusó al presidente de intentar convertir Rusia en un “Estado feudal”.

Navalny era conocido por sus estrategias innovadoras en la lucha contra la corrupción y el fomento de la democracia. Desafiando las expectativas, Navalny utilizó con destreza la política desde las calles y las redes sociales para crear un movimiento de oposición tenaz, incluso después de que gran parte de los medios de comunicación independientes de Rusia fueron reprimidos y otros críticos se vieron obligados a exiliarse o murieron en asesinatos sin resolver.

En los años previos a la invasión de Rusia a Ucrania, muchos de los colaboradores de Navalny, y en algunos casos sus familiares, fueron detenidos o forzados al exilio.

Antes de su muerte, Navalny era el crítico más destacado de Putin que quedaba en Rusia, en un momento en el que el presidente ha diseñado un plan para permanecer en el poder al menos hasta 2036.

Se cree que Navalny había sido atacado físicamente al menos dos veces antes: un presunto intento de envenenamiento cuando estaba en prisión en 2019 y un ataque en 2017 en el que alguien le arrojó un líquido verde a la cara que casi lo cegó.

Había hablado abiertamente de la posibilidad de que lo asesinaran.

“Intento no pensar mucho en ello”, dijo en una entrevista con CBS News en 2017. “Si empiezas a pensar en qué tipo de riesgos tengo, no puedes hacer nada”.

El 20 de agosto de 2020, poco después de abordar un vuelo procedente de Siberia, donde se había reunido con candidatos de la oposición a cargos locales, Navalny se empezó a sentir mal y cayó en coma.

Afirmó que el veneno había sido puesto en su ropa interior en su hotel en algún momento previo a abordar el avión. El vuelo aterrizó de emergencia en la ciudad rusa de Omsk, donde los médicos se resistieron durante dos días a las peticiones de su esposa de que fuera trasladado a Alemania para recibir tratamiento.

Finalmente, Navalny fue evacuado a Berlín en una ambulancia aérea, un esfuerzo coordinado por la fundación de un productor de cine radicado ahí. Poco más de una semana después, el gobierno alemán anunció que había sido envenenado con un agente nervioso de la potente familia de toxinas novichok. Las pruebas, declararon las autoridades alemanas, eran “inequívocas”.

Las autoridades rusas previamente habían desplegado una campaña de acoso de baja intensidad contra Navalny. A menudo era detenido y encarcelado por breves periodos, por lo general por delitos menores relacionados con protestas sin permiso para marchar.

Putin apenas ha mencionado el nombre de Navalny y los medios de comunicación estatales lo ignoraron de manera categórica durante su campaña anticorrupción que abarcó una década. Sin embargo, Navalny, un político joven y enérgico, encontró una base de apoyo en la clase media rusa, lo que claramente indignó al Kremlin.

El Kremlin, restándole importancia al describirlo como un tábano antipatriótico, a veces parecía dispuesto a pasar por alto sus críticas para darle a Putin la apariencia de dirigir un gobierno que toleraba la disidencia. Las detenciones breves permitieron a las autoridades rusas mantener a Navalny fuera de la vista en momentos importantes, como durante protestas organizadas, al tiempo que eludían las críticas por un trato severo que pudiera convertirlo en mártir.

A pesar de los ataques y los periodos en prisión, Navalny seguía adelante, dijo, por un deseo de cambiar el rumbo de su país y no defraudar a la gente que trabajaba con él. Estaba enfadado con lo que denominó el círculo cercano de Putin y los servicios de seguridad que lo protegían.

“Hago esto porque odio a esta gente”, dijo en una entrevista con The New York Times en 2011, antes de saltar a la fama.

Andrew E. Kramer es el jefe de la oficina de Kiev para el Times y ha estado cubriendo la guerra en Ucrania desde 2014. Más de Andrew E. Kramer

Valerie Hopkins cubre la guerra en Ucrania y cómo el conflicto está cambiando a Rusia, Ucrania, Europa y Estados Unidos con sede en Moscú. Más de Valerie Hopkins

Ucrania afirma que Rusia utilizó por primera vez un nuevo misil hipersónico

Ucrania dijo tener pruebas de que Rusia utilizó por primera vez un nuevo misil de crucero hipersónico en un ataque la semana pasada, algo que, de confirmarse, podría plantear otro nuevo desafío a las ya abrumadas defensas aéreas del país.

Un análisis preliminar de fragmentos de misil realizado por el Instituto de Investigación Científica y Peritaje Forense de Kiev, organismo dirigido por el gobierno, concluyó que se había utilizado un misil 3M22 Zircón en un ataque llevado a cabo el 7 de febrero contra ciudades de toda Ucrania. Según el instituto, en los escombros se encontraron marcas típicas del misil.

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Rusia oculta su número de bajas. Estas son las pistas que tenemos

El verdadero número de bajas en Rusia por su invasión a Ucrania es un secreto a voces. El Kremlin mantiene una política de silencio y muchos rusos no hablan públicamente por miedo a las repercusiones.

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Pero se cree que el número de rusos heridos en combate es abrumador.

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