The New York Times 2024-02-25 05:05:54


Biden Caught in a Political Bind Over Israel Policy

The Biden administration’s reversal of Trump-era policy on settlements in the occupied West Bank reflects not just its rising frustration with Israel, but the political bind the president finds himself in, just days before the Democratic primary in Michigan, where a large Arab American population is urging voters to register their anger by voting “uncommitted.”

During a trip to Argentina on Friday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken called any new settlements “inconsistent with international law,” a break with policy set under the Trump administration and a return to the decades-long U.S. position.

The Biden administration is increasingly fed up with the Israeli government’s conduct in the Gaza war and beyond, with officials speaking out more publicly on contentious issues, said Nimrod Novik, a fellow at the Israel Policy Forum think tank. As an example, he cited a U.S. decision to slap financial sanctions on four Israelis — three of them settlers — accused of attacking Palestinians in the West Bank at a time when settler violence against Palestinians has increased.

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Atrocities Mount in Sudan as War Spirals, U.N. Says

Bombs that struck houses, markets and bus stations across Sudan, often killing dozens of civilians at once. Ethnic rampages, accompanied by rape and looting, that killed thousands in the western region of Darfur.

And a video clip, verified by United Nations officials, that shows Sudanese soldiers parading through the streets of a major city, triumphantly brandishing the decapitated heads of students who were killed on the basis of their ethnicity.

The horrors of Sudan’s spiraling civil war are laid out in graphic detail in a new United Nations report that draws on satellite imagery, photos, videos and interviews with over 300 victims and witnesses, to present the stark human toll from 10 months of fighting.

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U.S. and British Warplanes Again Strike Houthi-Linked Targets in Yemen

U.S. and British Warplanes Again Strike Houthi-Linked Targets in Yemen

The Iran-backed group, which has been targeting global shipping routes, has proved especially difficult for the United States and its allies to restrain.

Helene Cooper and

Reporting from Washington

The United States and Britain carried out another round of large-scale military strikes Saturday against multiple sites in Yemen controlled by Houthi militants, U.S. officials said.

The strikes were intended to degrade the Iran-backed militants’ ability to attack ships in sea lanes that are critical for global trade, a campaign they have carried out for almost four months.

American and British warplanes hit missile systems and launchers and other targets, the officials said. Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand provided support for the operation, according to a joint statement from the countries involved that was emailed to reporters by the Defense Department.

The strikes, which the statement called “necessary and proportionate,” hit 18 targets across eight locations in Yemen associated with Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defense systems, radars and a helicopter.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade, naval vessels, and the lives of innocent mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” the statement said.

The strikes were the largest salvo since the allies struck Houthi targets on Feb. 3 and came after a week in which the Houthis have launched attack drones and cruise and ballistic missiles at vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, the Houthis denounced “U.S.-British aggression” and said they would not be deterred. “The Yemeni Armed Forces affirm that they will confront the U.S.-British escalation with more qualitative military operations against all hostile targets in the Red and Arabian Seas in defense of our country, our people and our nation,” the statement said.

On Monday, Houthi militants fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at a cargo ship, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. The ship, called the Sea Champion, continued on to its destination at the port of Aden in Yemen, the statement added. Central Command reported several other tit-for-tat attacks that day between U.S. forces in the area and Houthis.

On Thursday, it was more of the same. American warplanes and a ship belonging to a member of the U.S.-led coalition shot down six Houthi attack drones in the Red Sea, Central Command said in another statement. The drones were “likely targeting U.S. and coalition warships and were an imminent threat,” it added.

Later that day, the statement said, the Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles from southern Yemen into the Gulf of Aden, hitting the Islander, a Palau-flagged, Britain-owned cargo carrier. The vessel was damaged, and one person had a minor injury.

And earlier on Saturday, the naval destroyer U.S.S. Mason shot down what Central Command said was an anti-ship ballistic missile launched from Yemen into the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthis say their attacks are a protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which was launched in response to attacks by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7.

The American-led retaliatory air and naval strikes against Houthi targets began last month.

“The Houthis’ now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response,” Saturday’s statement from the U.S.-led coalition said.

In a separate statement Saturday evening, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said that the Houthi attacks “harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries.”

The United States and several allies have repeatedly warned the Houthis of serious consequences if the salvos did not stop. But the U.S.-led strikes have so far failed to deter the Houthis. Hundreds of ships have been forced to take a lengthy detour around southern Africa, driving up costs.

Of all the Iran-backed militias that had escalated hostilities in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, the Houthis have been perhaps the most difficult to restrain. While the Houthis have continued their attacks, Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria appear to be observing a period of quietude since the United States carried out a series of strikes against Iranian forces and the militias they support in Syria and Iraq on Feb. 2.

Middle East experts say that after nearly a decade of evading airstrikes in a war with Saudi Arabia, the Houthis have become skilled at concealing their weaponry, putting some of it in urban areas and shooting missiles from the backs of vehicles before scooting off.

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For Car Thieves, Toronto Is a ‘Candy Store,’ and Drivers Are Fed Up

Vjosa Isai drove around Toronto in a Volkswagen Passat with 290,000 miles on it, a vehicle not coveted by car thieves, to report this article.

Whenever Dennis Wilson wants to take a drive in his new SUV, he has to set aside an extra 15 minutes. That’s about how long it takes to remove the car’s steering wheel club, undo four tire locks and lower a yellow bollard before backing out of his driveway.

His Honda CR-V is also fitted with two alarm systems, a vehicle tracking device and, for good measure, four Apple AirTags. Its remote-access key fob rests in a Faraday bag, to jam illicit unlocking signals.

As a final touch, he mounted two motion-sensitive floodlights on his house and aimed them at the driveway in his modest neighborhood in Toronto.

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Ukraine Marks 2nd Anniversary of Russian Invasion, Determined Despite Setbacks

In solemn ceremonies and small vigils, state visits, stirring speeches and statements of solidarity, Ukraine and its allies marked the dawn of the third year of Russia’s unprovoked invasion with a single message: Believe.

“When thousands of columns of Russian invaders moved from all directions into Ukraine, when thousands of rockets and bombs fell on our land, no one in the world believed that we would stand,” said Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s newly named top military commander. “No one believed, but Ukraine did!”

On the 731st day of the war, Ukrainian soldiers once again find themselves outmanned and outgunned, fighting for their nation’s survival while also trying to convince a skeptical world that they can withstand the relentless onslaught, even as they suffer losses on the battlefield and are challenged up and down the front line by Russian forces.

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Sanitation Crisis in Gaza Spreads Disease

In a sprawling tent encampment in Gaza, the Israeli bombs fall close enough to hear and feel. But daily life is also a struggle against hunger, cold and a growing sanitation crisis.

A lack of sufficient toilets and clean water, as well as open sewage, are problems that displaced Palestinians have struggled with since the early days of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

For two months after Salwa al-Masri, 75, and her family fled to the city of Rafah, at the southernmost tip of Gaza, to escape Israel’s military offensive, she said she would walk 200 yards to reach the nearest bathroom. If she was lucky, younger women in line would let her jump ahead. Other times, she might wait up to an hour to use a dirty toilet shared with thousands of other people.

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Aleksei Navalny’s Body Was Returned to His Mother, Allies Say

The Russian authorities have transferred the body of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny to his mother, his spokeswoman said on Saturday, ending a grim battle for custody of his remains, but it is unclear whether he will get a funeral that the public can attend.

“Aleksei’s body has been handed over to his mother,” Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said in a statement posted on social media. “The funeral is yet to come. We don’t know whether the authorities will interfere with carrying it out in the way the family wants and as Aleksei deserves.”

Mr. Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, on Saturday was still in the northern city of Salekhard, near the Arctic prison where Mr. Navalny was reported to have died on Feb. 16, Ms. Yarmysh said. She added that the opposition leader’s team would release information about the funeral “as it becomes available.”

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Farmers Clash With Police and Macron at Paris Agricultural Fair

France’s farmers vented their fury at President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday as he arrived at the annual agricultural show in Paris, a giant fair long seen as a test of presidents’ relationship with the countryside.

A large crowd that had camped outside the night before broke in and scuffled with police officers in riot gear while Mr. Macron entered through a side door to meet with unions demanding an end to hardships in the industry.

During an hourlong closed-door meeting before the fair opened, with top cabinet members at Mr. Macron’s side, farmers sang the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” at the top of their lungs, blew whistles, raised fists and shouted for the president to resign, as skittish prize cows and pigs brought to the capital from farms around the country looked on nervously from their display pens.

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Waiting for Serhiy

On April 12, 2022, as Russian forces continued their siege of Mariupol, a 22-year-old Ukrainian marine messaged with his sister.

His attempts to escape the Russian siege had failed. He and his fellow Ukrainian marines were surrounded, dozens of miles from friendly lines. They were nearly out of food and water. Some panicked, others quietly resigned themselves to what would come next.

Then, about a day later, Serhiy Hrebinyk, a senior sailor, and his comrades emerged from their final holdout inside the sprawling Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. He quickly messaged his older sister: “Hi Anna. Our brigade surrenders in captivity today. Me too. I don’t know what will happen next. I love you all.”


Map locates the town of Trostyanets in northeastern Ukraine, and the eastern cities of Mariupol and Olvenika. It also locates the town of Kamyshin, on the Volga River in Russia.

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Russia’s Brutal War Calculus


Two years of war have remade Russia.

Isolated from the West, it is now more dependent on China. Political repression is reminiscent of the grim days of the Soviet Union.

But Russia is not the economic shambles many in the West predicted when they imposed punishing sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine. Many Russians are pulling down their highest incomes in years.

Russian society has been refashioned in ways that have devastated some and lifted others. While government critics languish in jail and young men die in trenches at the front, other Russians — especially those willing to spout the official line — are feeling more optimistic than ever.

Here is a look at how Russia at war has changed — suffering enormous costs by some metrics but faring better than expected by others.

Daily Life

People fled Russia in droves after the invasion and draft, more than 820,000, although some returned.
Alcoholics were diagnosed in higher numbers after more than a decade of steady declines.
Demand for psychologists increased by more than 60% in the first year of the war.
Traffic to Facebook and Instagram dropped after Russia blocked them, and use of Telegram and secure platforms like VPNs surged.
Travel abroad plummeted from pre-pandemic days.
But people are making higher wages as men deployed to the front reduce the ranks of workers back home.
And Russians are shelling out on new homes, helped by generous government subsidies.

Despite the ways that life has changed, many people say they feel positive about how President Vladimir Putin is doing. His popularity surged as the war began and is now at its highest level in seven years.

Questions remain about how honest people feel they can be in polls, given the risks. And polls have signaled, too, that a substantial number would like the war to end. But Mr. Putin has convinced many that in invading Ukraine, Russia is defending itself against an existential threat from the West.

The Economy

Mr. Putin went into the war with his financial house in order.

Government debt was low. Funds were stashed away. And a team of agile technocrats were on hand to fend off a crisis.

After an initial shock, the Russian system recovered, thanks in part to emergency financial measures, high oil prices and trade with China and India. Moscow also greatly increased state spending.

Collectively, Russia has created its own wartime economy.

Trade with Europe dropped by about 65% after Western sanctions.
Toyotas and VWs, once popular, disappeared from car assembly lines.
But trade with China, India and Turkey boomed.
By last year, Chinese cars made up six of the top 10 car brands in Russia.
The G.D.P. overall was driven up last year by an enormous war-related government stimulus.
Unemployment dropped.
And more than two-thirds of Russians say their economic well-being is the same or better.
But inflation shot up too.

The economy is now in danger of overheating. The mortgage subsidies could be fueling a housing bubble. And the market is still off-kilter in some sectors, with shortages of certain medicines, for example, and dramatic reductions in car production.

If oil prices plunge, Russia will struggle. If the military spending spree ends, all bets are off. Russia can sustain warfare in Ukraine for the foreseeable future, but its long-term economic future is in doubt.

Support for the War

For the moment, at least, the resilient economy has boosted Mr. Putin. And a campaign of propaganda and repression have allowed him to reign virtually unchallenged.

As nationalist songs top the charts — “I am Russian, out of spite to the whole world,” goes one — less attention is being paid to the news. And the government plans to spend $500 million on “patriotic education” this year, including for a goose-stepping “youth army.”

The percentage of people saying the country is moving in the right direction is the highest in decades, 71% last month.
Support for Russian military actions in Ukraine is even higher, though many Russians have indicated that they aren’t comfortable sharing their opinion about the war.
Repression of those opposing the war is widespread.
Treason convictions nearly tripled.
The war has accelerated a crackdown on the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
Soviet-style denunciations are back, as Russians report “unpatriotic” behavior by fellow citizens to the authorities.
Freedom of assembly has been obliterated, with nearly 20,000 Russians detained for their antiwar stance.
Independent journalists have been forced to flee, and many have been declared foreign agents.
Mr. Putin’s best-known critic, Aleksei A. Navalny, died after years of inhumane treatment in prison.
The number of prisoners in Russia has actually decreased dramatically.
But that’s primarily because many were recruited to fight, and often die, in Ukraine.

Blood and Treasure

In the early months of the war, Mr. Putin’s military made grave mistakes, but it has regrouped. Russia fended off a Western-backed Ukrainian counteroffensive and has taken the initiative on the front, buoyed by frozen American aid for Ukraine.

Still, Russia has sustained huge costs to get this far. It is far from controlling the four regions it claims to have annexed, let alone the rest of Ukraine, and Mr. Putin may need to carry out another draft.

He claims he would like to negotiate an end to the war, but skeptics see that as a ploy to undercut Western aid to Ukraine.

Moscow has made increasing gains in recent weeks. It now controls about 18 percent of Ukraine, up from 7 percent before the full-scale invasion.
But its control of Ukraine is down from the 27 percent Russian forces once occupied at their height.
The progress is coming at a higher cost. Military spending has eclipsed social spending at the federal level for the first time in Russia’s 32-year post-Soviet history. It makes up about a third of the national budget.
Some 60,000 Russians have been killed in the fighting, according to U.S. officials.
That’s two Russian soldiers for every square mile taken from Ukraine since the invasion.
The popularity of the war appears to ebb when it comes to support for the draft. Only 36% of Russians support another mobilization to replenish forces.

To replenish its ranks, Russia has been targeting prisons and poorer regions for recruits.

Soldiers in Ukraine are earning roughly three times the average Russian salary — and in many cases more. Compensation to families of soldiers who die in Ukraine can be more than $84,000, more than nine times the average annual Russian salary.

But despite their stated support for the war, many Russians would be happy for it to end. Half of Russians say they want to start peace talks.

Where Hostage Families and Supporters Gather, for Solace and Protest

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

Leer en español

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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Can Gabriel Attal Win Over France?

Gabriel Attal, 34, is a new kind of French prime minister, more inclined to Diet Coke than a good Burgundy, at home with social media and revelations about his personal life, a natural communicator who reels off one-liners like “France rhymes with power” to assert his “authority,” a favorite word.

Since taking office in early January, the boyish-looking Mr. Attal has waded into the countryside, far from his familiar haunts in the chic quarters of Paris, muddied his dress shoes, propped his notes on a choreographed bale of hay, and calmed protesting farmers through adroit negotiation leavened by multiple concessions.

He has told rail workers threatening a strike that “working is a duty,” not an everyday French admonition. He has shown off his new dog on Instagram and explained that he called the high-energy Chow Chow “Volta” after the inventor of the electric battery. He has told the National Assembly that he is the living proof of a changing France as “a prime minister who assumes his homosexuality.”

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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.

“In my growing up years, I was made to feel different from the rest in school. I was not allowed to laugh at jokes, and caste slurs were thrown at me,” Mr. Bezwada said in an interview on a recent evening in Delhi. “All I wanted to know then was why was my community different, and how could I make them equal to the others?”

By the time he was 18 or so, the young man of course knew what his community did to put food on the table, but his knowledge was still only theoretical. He wanted to experience the work for himself.

So he urged some manual scavengers to take him on the job. He watched them reach way down into a pit to scrape dried human waste from toilet floors, piling it into iron buckets and then transferring it into a trolley to be dumped on the mining township’s outskirts.

As he observed, one man’s bucket fell into the pit. The man rolled up his pants before dropping down into ankle-deep waste to pull the bucket out.

“I shouted, cried and implored him to not do so. How could any human do that?” Mr. Bezwada recalled.

The night of that incident, furious about what he had witnessed, he spent hours sitting by a water tank, thinking about jumping in to end his life.

“The sound of the water was consistent. But what I could hear in my mind was a ‘no, don’t die. Live on and fight,’” Mr. Bezwada recalled.

And he has, for the last four decades.

Every morning, Mr. Bezwada, now 57, wakes up with a single-minded mission: to unshackle his community from the centuries-old scourge linked to their caste.

“My community did not realize that this is not what they were born to do,” Mr. Bezwada said, “but were made to do by society and government.”

The movement he founded in 1993, Safai Karmachari Andolan, or Campaign of the Cleanliness Workers, is now one of the largest organizations in India fighting against caste discrimination.

While such discrimination is illegal in India, almost all the country’s sanitation workers who deal with human excrement, including those who clean septic tanks and sewers, are from the lowest caste rung in their communities.

In addition to the social stigma, such work can be extremely dangerous: In enclosed spaces, human waste can create a mix of toxic gases, which can result in loss of consciousness and death for those forced to breathe in the foul air for extended periods.

Mr. Bezwada’s Campaign of the Cleanliness Workers movement has recorded over 1,300 sanitation worker deaths since the early 1990s.

After his own near-death experience at the water tank, Mr. Bezwada kept talking to community members at the Kolar Gold Fields in the state of Karnataka, where 114 dry latrine cleaners and about 1,000 sanitary workers overall were among the approximately 90,000 employees.

He discovered manual scavenging was not a local issue but an all-India problem. So he started writing letters, including to Karnataka’s chief minister and to the prime minister of India. He arranged for a camera through a friend and started documenting the situation at the mine, which was closed in 2001.

Communists were active at the camp, frequently staging demonstrations for higher wages, and Mr. Bezwada said he learned how to protest from them.

There were many days where he was the only one protesting, and his mother urged him to end his activism. “‘Forget it. We will move out,’” he said she told him.

His breakthrough moment came when a journalist contacted him for a story on the continued existence of dry toilets in the gold mining township, which officials claimed were no longer there. After the article ran, Mr. Bezwada found himself all over the news. Government officials wanted to inspect the situation themselves, and Mr. Bezwada was called on to show them around.

In an effort to raise awareness beyond the gold mine, Mr. Bezwada started visiting other cities and towns, traveling by bus at night, trying to mobilize the manual scavenger communities he encountered and talking to them about “how to come out of it,” he said.

A chance meeting with a retired bureaucrat in the early 1990s helped formalize his Campaign of the Cleanliness Workers movement, leading to both donations and volunteers.

Since the campaign started, and especially over the last decade, dry latrines have largely been eliminated in India, although Mr. Bezwada said they can still be found in rural and semi-urban parts of some states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. He said he won’t be satisfied until there isn’t a single person picking up waste by hand.

In addition to working to eradicate any remaining dry latrines and replace them with flush toilets, Mr. Bezwada’s movement also trains former manual scavengers in other lines of work, like tailoring, gardening and auto rickshaw driving, and it advocates safer working conditions for all waste workers.

In 2023, at least 90 sanitary workers in India died on the job, Mr. Bezwada said. From 2017 to 2022, 373 people are reported to have died cleaning hazardous sewers and septic tanks, according to government data.

Mr. Bezwada said his politics were shaped by the architect of India’s Constitution, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who himself belonged to Mr. Bezwada’s Dalit caste. It was by reading Mr. Ambedkar, Mr. Bezwada said, that his anger shifted from his community for not resisting, toward society and the government for pushing his caste into inhumane jobs.

“They were doing it to protect the interests of the elite and upper castes,” Mr. Bezwada explained.

Even after nonprofits began supporting his work, Mr. Bezwada still traveled on the cheap, often sleeping at a bus station and covering himself with the newspapers he loved to read during the day for warmth at night.

He mobilized manual scavengers and presented letters to municipalities demanding they demolish the town’s dry toilets. If towns refused, sometimes Mr. Bezwada and his volunteers would take matters into their own hands.

“We would take crow bars and start breaking them,” he said.

In 1993, he and his volunteers started documenting the existence of dry latrines across India and recording each manual scavenger’s death on the job. In 2003, the organization filed a petition in India’s top court asking for strict enforcement of a law passed in the early 1990s that was meant to eradicate manual scavenging in India but was widely ignored.

It wasn’t until 2014 that the court finally acted: It ordered state governments to pay compensation to families of those who had died cleaning sewers and septic tanks; to take stringent measures to stop manual cleaning of dry latrines; and to retrain people engaged in manual scavenging with skills that would give them the means for a more dignified livelihood.

In 2016 he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, often called the Nobel Prize for Asia.

“I had no proper education. But loads of real-life wisdom,” Mr. Bezwada said, assessing the reasons for his success.

However agonizingly long the wait for the court’s decision, the time was put to good use.

“The community got organized in the process,” Mr. Bezwada said. “That’s the reward. Even if I go quiet, today there are thousands who are speaking up.”

One recent afternoon, a group of volunteers huddled in his Delhi office for a meeting.

Mr. Bezwada was coaching them on the fine art of full-throated sloganeering for the ongoing campaign against sewer worker deaths.

“Nobody can win without putting up a fight,” Mr. Bezwada told them. “Whatever victory has come in the world so far, it is all through the struggle and fight only. But every fight may not yield a result. What’s important is the fight.”

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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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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

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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

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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Incendio en Valencia: hay al menos 9 muertos

Un día después de que un incendio arrasara un complejo de viviendas de gran altura en la ciudad española de Valencia, que derivó en la muerte de al menos 9 personas, los investigadores policiales intentaban determinar por qué las llamas se habían extendido por los dos edificios en menos de una hora.

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Las primeras sospechas recayeron en los materiales de construcción, pero era difícil determinarlo, ya que las dos estructuras permanecían tan calientes que los bomberos no pudieron entrar en los edificios sino hasta alrededor del mediodía del viernes, horas después de haber llegado al lugar durante la noche anterior.

Luis Sendra, decano del Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de la Comunidad Valenciana, dijo que los investigadores tendrían que esperar a que las estructuras se enfriaran para poder precisar si el revestimiento exterior podría haber contribuido a avivar el fuego. Afirmó que los huecos entre el aislamiento y el revestimiento podrían haber facilitado la propagación de las llamas.

“Es pronto para saber la causa exacta”, dijo Sendra. “Pero por la rapidez con que se extendió, podría haber mucha similitud con Grenfell en Londres”.

Setenta y dos personas murieron en el incendio de Grenfell, que consumió un edificio de apartamentos de gran altura en el oeste de Londres en 2017. Se habían utilizado materiales inflamables en el revestimiento de ese edificio, lo que aceleró la propagación del fuego.

En una rueda de prensa celebrada el viernes por la mañana, Carlos Mazón, presidente de la Comunidad Valenciana, anunció un periodo de luto de tres días y afirmó que siete bomberos habían resultado heridos en el incendio.

El gobierno de la comunidad autónoma había anunciado a primera hora del viernes que 10 personas habían fallecido en el incendio, pero de acuerdo con información que apareció en los medios de comunicación españoles más tarde ese mismo día, citando fuentes policiales, se afirmaba que el número de muertes se había revisado y eran nueve, y una persona desaparecida.

En unas imágenes dramáticas que circularon en los medios de comunicación españoles se veía a un bombero saltando desde el séptimo piso a una colchoneta de seguridad en el suelo. Dos residentes también fueron rescatados de un balcón tras quedar atrapados por el fuego; mientras los bomberos contenían las llamas con mangueras, los residentes trepaban de balcón en balcón para llegar a una plataforma de rescate elevada por un camión de bomberos.

El complejo residencial de Valencia, la tercera ciudad más grande de España, estaba formado por un edificio de 14 plantas y otro más bajo, y tenía un total de 138 viviendas, según Sendra.

Un equipo de 15 agentes forenses de la policía nacional está llevando a cabo una investigación sobre el incendio. Tampoco estaba claro el origen del incendio.

Aún no se sabía con claridad qué materiales se utilizaron en el exterior de los edificios. Sendra declaró a los medios de comunicación que el uso de aluminio en las fachadas de los edificios estaba permitido por la normativa de construcción española, pero que el uso de poliuretano como aislante no lo estaba.

Tampoco quedaba claro si se había utilizado poliuretano. Sin embargo, Esther Puchades, vicepresidenta del Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Técnicos Industriales de Valencia, afirmó en un comunicado que “todos los indicios apuntaban al poliuretano como el causante de la voracidad de las llamas y el color del humo”.

Un comunicado del colegio señaló que algunos de los materiales de la fachada de los edificios contenían plástico que se incendió con rapidez, pero añadía: “No podemos asegurar que sea un material en concreto hasta que no acabe la investigación”.

Pep Benlloch, presidente de la asociación de vecinos de la zona, dijo en una entrevista en la cadena de televisión Antena 3 que en el complejo vivían muchos extranjeros, entre ellos ucranianos, pero que, en un principio, había estado vacío durante mucho tiempo debido a los precios prohibitivos por el auge de la construcción.

La policía y el ayuntamiento señalaron que no podían confirmar inmediatamente cuántas de las viviendas estaban habitadas en el momento del incendio. El complejo se construyó durante el auge inmobiliario de mediados de la década de 2000, según Sendra.

Un residente de 67 años que solo dio su nombre de pila, Pep, dijo el viernes a los medios de comunicación españoles que había salido de su vivienda con su esposa poco después de que se declarara el incendio.

“Cogí la cartera, el móvil, y logré salir del infierno”, dijo el hombre, hablando fuera del hotel donde ha sido alojado temporalmente.

Jorge, quien vive en el barrio de Campanar, dijo que había salido a dar un paseo cuando vio el incendio y se unió a un pequeño grupo de personas que contemplaba con horror cómo el edificio era consumido por las llamas.

Inmediatamente empezó a grabar; hizo un video del edificio en llamas, con el sonido de gritos de fondo, que publicó en las redes sociales

“Olía a plástico quemado”, dijo Jorge, quien solo dio su nombre de pila, en una entrevista.

El ayuntamiento de Valencia señaló en un comunicado que se había instalado una locación de asistencia en un edificio cercano para ofrecer apoyo práctico y psicológico a los residentes sobrevivientes.

El presidente del gobierno de España, Pedro Sánchez, visitó el viernes el lugar del incendio, agradeció a los trabajadores de emergencia y ofreció “trasladar nuestra solidaridad, nuestro cariño y nuestra empatía” a las familias afectadas por el fuego.

“La prioridad ahora”, dijo, “es la búsqueda de víctimas”.


Emily Schmallcolaboró con reportería.

EE. UU. indagó acusaciones de vínculos del narco con aliados del presidente de México

Funcionarios de la ley estadounidenses indagaron durante años afirmaciones de que aliados del presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, se habían reunido con cárteles del narcotráfico y recibido millones de dólares luego de que asumió el cargo, según consta en registros de EE. UU. y de acuerdo con tres personas con conocimiento del tema.

La indagatoria, de la que hasta ahora no se había informado, descubrió información que señalaba posibles vínculos entre operadores poderosos de los cárteles y funcionarios y asesores mexicanos cercanos a López Obrador cuando ya gobernaba el país.

Pero Estados Unidos nunca abrió una investigación formal a López Obrador y los funcionarios que estaban haciendo la indagatoria al final la archivaron. Concluyeron que había poca disposición en el gobierno estadounidense para rastrear acusaciones que pudieran implicar al líder de uno de los principales aliados del país, dijeron las tres personas con conocimiento del caso, quienes no tenían autorización de ofrecer declaraciones públicamente.

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EE. UU. defiende a Israel ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia

El miércoles, un día después de vetar los llamados a un alto al fuego inmediato en Gaza, Estados Unidos defendió la ocupación israelí de Cisjordania y Jerusalén Oriente, ocurrida a lo largo de décadas, argumentando ante el más alto tribunal de las Naciones Unidas que Israel se enfrentaba a “necesidades muy reales en materia de seguridad”.

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La más reciente defensa estadounidense de Israel en la escena internacional se produjo en la Corte Internacional de Justicia de La Haya, donde Richard Visek, asesor jurídico en funciones del Departamento de Estado de EE. UU., instó a un panel de 15 jueces a no exigir la retirada inmediata de Israel de los territorios palestinos ocupados.

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¿Quién controla las prisiones de Latinoamérica? ¿El hampa o los guardias?

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El ejército de Ecuador fue enviado a recuperar el control de las prisiones el mes pasado, luego de que dos cabecillas importantes se fugaron y bandas criminales organizaron con rapidez una serie de disturbios que paralizaron el país.

La semana pasada, dos reclusos en Brasil con conexiones a una pandilla importante se convirtieron en los primeros en escapar de una de las cinco prisiones de máxima seguridad del país, según las autoridades.

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4 Ways Autocrats Have Used Interpol to Harass Faraway Enemies

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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