The New York Times 2024-04-17 10:12:41

Middle East Crisis: U.S. Plans New Sanctions on Iran After Attack on Israel

The U.S. plans new sanctions on Iran, focused on limiting its oil exports.

The United States plans to impose new sanctions on Iran in the coming days to punish it for the attacks on Israel over the weekend, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said in a statement that the sanctions would target Iran’s “missile and drone program” and entities that support the country’s military groups.

“These new sanctions and other measures will continue a steady drumbeat of pressure to contain and degrade Iran’s military capacity and effectiveness and confront the full range of its problematic behaviors,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Mr. Sullivan did not specify how the sanctions might undermine Iranian weapons programs, but a Treasury official, who declined to be named in order to discuss private deliberations, said the United States was looking at ways to cut off Iran’s access to military components that it uses to build weapons such as the drones that it used against Israel.

On Saturday night, Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed several senior Iranian military officials in Syria earlier in the month. Most of the missiles and drones were intercepted and shot down by Israel and its allies, including the United States and Britain.

The United States has imposed extensive sanctions on Iran over the years as part of a broad effort to put pressure on its economy and prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

At a news conference on Tuesday ahead of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, Janet L. Yellen, the secretary of the Treasury, suggested that the Biden administration was considering ways to further restrict Iranian oil exports.

Ms. Yellen noted that the Biden administration had already targeted more than 500 Iranian individuals and entities associated with terrorist financing over the last three years.

“I fully expect that we will take additional sanctions action against Iran in the coming days,” Ms. Yellen said.

Ms. Yellen said that the United States does not generally reveal the details of sanctions before imposing them but she signaled that the Biden administration is focusing on Iranian oil, which is a major source of its government revenue.

“We have been working to diminish Iran’s ability to export oil,” Ms. Yellen said. “Clearly Iran is continuing to export some oil — there may be more that we could do.”

The United States will also be discussing Iran with finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations, who are in Washington this week. Those talks will be centered on how to coordinate sanctions to cut off Iran’s supply of military components for weapons like the Shahed drones that it deployed against Israel, according to the Treasury official.

The United States will also be talking with other countries, including China, about the need to stop supplying Iran with weapons or technology that it has been using to destabilize the Middle East.

Ms. Yellen noted that since the attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7 of last year, the United States has targeted Iran with more than 100 sanctions intended to debilitate its procurement networks for ballistic missiles and the terrorist groups that it finances.

Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington.

E.U. ministers discuss expanding sanctions against Iran’s weapons program.

The European Union is considering expanding economic sanctions against Iran’s weapons program to punish it for last weekend’s attack on Israel and try to prevent any escalation of violence across the Middle East, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Tuesday.

“I’m not trying to exaggerate when I say that, in the Middle East, we are at the edge of a very deep precipice,” Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said after European diplomats were hastily called to discuss the crisis.

Member states agreed to mobilize all diplomatic efforts to avoid a violent spillover that would be “leading us into a regional war,” Mr. Borrell said. “That is what we’re trying to avoid.”

The European Union has already penalized Iran for equipping Russia with drones in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Mr. Borrell said those sanctions could be broadened to include Iran’s missile program, as well as the delivery of those weapons systems to its proxy militias in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

He also said the European Union could expand sanctions against entities that provide Iran with the necessary components to build drones, but that, by and large, such penalties were already in place.

It is far from clear how the proposed restrictions would curb Iran, which has spent decades finding ways to skirt Western sanctions, including illicit shipments of oil and, notably, its armaments to Russia.

But even as he voiced the bloc’s support for Israel, Mr. Borrell said “let’s not forget Gaza,” where an Israeli siege has created a hunger crisis that the United Nations says borders on famine.

“Yes, we have to pay a lot of attention to the Iranian attack on Israel,” Mr. Borrell said. “But we don’t have to forget about what’s happening in Gaza. Because there will be no regional stability — there will not be a possibility to build enduring peace in the region if the Gaza war continues.”

He also noted the awkward disparity between the West’s resistance to being pulled directly into the conflict in Ukraine and the interception of Iranian drones by the United States and several allies last weekend to protect Israel.

The conflicts are vastly different, Mr. Borrell said, in part because Iran’s drones put allied air bases in the Middle East at risk by flying over them to get to Israel.

But, he said, if he were President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, “I would certainly wish to highlight that Ukraine is being bombed as well.” Mr. Borrell predicted that European defense ministers could commit to sending more air defense to Ukraine at a meeting on Monday.



Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon kill two Hezbollah commanders.

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that it had killed two Hezbollah commanders in separate strikes in southern Lebanon, the latest indication that clashes with Iran’s most powerful regional proxy showed no signs of abating amid growing fears of a regional war with Tehran.

The Israeli military said that aircraft had eliminated Ismail Yusaf Baz, who it claimed was a commander of Hezbollah’s coastal sector, and Muhammad Hussein Mustafa Shechory, who it said was a commander in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit. Mr. Baz “served as a senior and veteran official in several positions of Hezbollah’s military wing,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

Hezbollah acknowledged the two fighters’ deaths in statements but gave no details of their ranks within the organization.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hezbollah claimed to have used suicide drones to strike parts of Beit Hillel, a border town in northern Israel. Hezbollah said the attack, which targeted Iron Dome platforms, had killed some Israelis. Israel’s Iron Dome system is one of the country’s primary defense weapons and proved instrumental in shielding it from the bulk of Iran’s drone-and-missile attack over the weekend.

The Israeli military said in a statement that Hezbollah’s attack was “under review” but did not confirm whether the group had inflicted casualties.

Israel appeared to respond swiftly with the strikes on the two Hezbollah commanders, triggering a series of tit-for-tat attacks on Tuesday that included rocket and missile strikes by Hezbollah on a series of Israeli military bases and barracks.

For over six months, Hezbollah and Israel have been locked in an escalating cross-border conflict set off by the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that was led by Hamas, another of Iran’s allies. The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of civilians on both sides of the border, and in recent months Israeli strikes inside Lebanon have begun to creep deeper into the country’s interior.

Speaking to Israeli soldiers stationed along the northern border on Tuesday, Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, struck a defiant tone.

“The Middle East’s skies are open,” he said. “Each enemy that fights us, we will know how to strike it wherever it is.”

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting from Tel Aviv.

As Israel weighs its options against Iran, diplomats push to ease tensions.

Diplomats on Tuesday were pushing to temper any Israeli retaliation against Iran, seeking to head off an escalation and broader confrontation following Tehran’s weekend attack.

Israel’s war cabinet, some of whose members met again on Tuesday, has been weighing how to respond to Iran’s large-scale missile and drone assault. Several options — ranging from diplomacy to an imminent strike — are being considered, according to an Israeli official briefed on the cabinet discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security matters.

Amid concerns over what actions Israel might take, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss ways to calm the tensions. Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, who met with her Jordanian counterpart in Berlin, said she would fly to Israel later on Tuesday and would discuss with officials there “how to prevent further escalation with more and more violence.”

Ms. Baerbock told a news conference that it was critical that “we all work together to contribute to de-escalation for the entire region.”

As U.S. and European leaders try to find ways to punish Iran for the attack without fueling a wider Middle East war, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, said on Tuesday that he was “leading a diplomatic offensive” and had written to dozens of governments calling for more sanctions against Tehran. But he said that such penalties should come “alongside the military response,” without specifying what that could mean.

The United States is one of several of Israel’s allies that has strongly urged restraint, underscoring the pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government faces to avoid a more direct confrontation with Iran. On Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, that the United States’ support for Israel’s defense remained “steadfast” and he “reaffirmed the strategic goal of regional stability,” according to the Pentagon.

Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gallant met with key members of the war cabinet for security consultations on Tuesday afternoon without many of the observers who normally attend, according to an Israeli official briefed on the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive deliberations.

Since Iran’s attack, Mr. Netanyahu has not commented publicly on the discussions around a response. But on Tuesday he described the war against Hamas, the Iranian-backed group Israel is fighting in Gaza, as part of “a greater campaign” that includes battling Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militia.

“Iran stands behind Hamas, behind Hezbollah and behind others,” he told military recruits. “But we are determined to win there, and to defend ourselves in all sectors.”

Iranian officials — who have said the weekend assault was retaliation for a deadly April 1 strike on an Iranian Embassy building in Syria — have warned that Iran will forcefully respond to any Israeli attack. The rhetoric from Tehran, which in the immediate aftermath of its attack called the matter with Israel closed, has intensified as Israel weighs its options.

Iranian state news media on Tuesday was peppered with strong language from officials, vowing “painful” and “crushing” responses to any Israeli retaliation.

There also have been calls for Iran to avoid any escalation. Japan’s foreign minister, Yoko Kamikawa, spoke to her Iranian counterpart on Tuesday to urge Tehran to “exercise restraint,” according to a Japanese government statement.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia did the same when he spoke on Tuesday with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, according to the Russian state news agency Tass. Mr. Raisi assured Mr. Putin that Tehran was not “seeking to escalate tensions further,” Tass reported.

And China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, spoke on the phone with Iran’s foreign minister on Monday, according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. Mr. Wang relayed that “Iran can handle the situation well and spare the region further turmoil while safeguarding its own sovereignty and dignity,” Xinhua reported.

Christopher F. Schuetze and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.



Israeli forces carry out raids and arrests in northern Gaza, residents say.

The Israeli military carried out assaults in several towns in northern Gaza on Monday night, according to accounts from residents and Palestinian news media, which described heavy bombardment and ground fighting that drove many families to evacuate the area.

Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, reported on Tuesday that Israeli forces were continuing for a second straight day to demand that all families leave the northern town of Beit Hanoun, and had made several arrests in the area.

The news agency said on Monday night that Israeli military vehicles had surrounded a school housing displaced families in Beit Hanoun and opened fire, and that several Palestinians had been killed or wounded after an airstrike on a mosque in the nearby Jabaliya area. In central Gaza City, Israeli bombardment early Tuesday left several people killed or injured, the agency said.

The reports could not be independently verified. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to questions about the fighting.

The objective of Israel’s attacks in northern Gaza — from which its forces had withdrawn earlier this year before returning in recent weeks — was not immediately clear.

The United Nations human rights office also said on Tuesday that there had been intense attacks in northern and central Gaza in recent days, pointing to reports that Israeli troops had opened fire on Gazans attempting to return to the north over the weekend, killing at least one Palestinian and injuring at least 11 others.

Emad Zaqout, a freelance journalist who lives in Jabaliya, said that Israeli ground forces and tanks were in Beit Hanoun and parts of Jabaliya, where heavy strikes were heard Monday night and early Tuesday as Israeli forces clashed with gunmen.

“It was a very heated night until the early hours of the morning,” Mr. Zaquot said in a phone call on Tuesday.

Mr. Zaqout said that before entering the area, the Israeli military had used recorded voice messages to order residents to move south, but he said that some had refused and had moved to other parts of northern Gaza instead.

The bombardment seemed to subside by Tuesday morning but Israeli tanks were still in the area and more residents were leaving, he said.

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that its forces were pressing on with an operation in central Gaza for a sixth day, reporting that it had killed several people it described as “terrorists” and had struck at “terrorist infrastructure.”

Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting from Geneva.

A U.N. panel says Israel is obstructing its investigation of the Oct. 7 attack.

Members of a United Nations commission said on Tuesday that Israel was obstructing their efforts to investigate possible human rights violations on Oct. 7 and in the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas. But they said the commission had still shared large amounts of evidence with the International Criminal Court.

“We have faced not merely a lack of cooperation but active obstruction of our efforts to receive evidence from Israeli witnesses and victims” related to the Oct. 7 attack, Chris Sidoti, one of three members of the commission, told a briefing for diplomats in Geneva. The commission was formed in 2021 to investigate human rights violations in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Israel has accused the commission of bias, and has said it would not cooperate with what it described as “an anti-Israeli, antisemitic body.”

It has not allowed the commission to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories, and in January it instructed Israeli medical personnel who treated released hostages and victims of the Oct. 7 attack not to cooperate with the panel, which is led by Navi Pillay, the former United Nations human rights chief.

Ms. Pillay said the commission had investigated crimes committed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, as well as by Israeli forces in Gaza. She said that in line with the commission’s mandate from the U.N. Human Rights Council to seek accountability for such crimes, it had shared over 5,000 documents, including video and other material, with the I.C.C., which tries individuals on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The I.C.C. opened an investigation into potential crimes in Gaza and the West Bank in March 2021, but it has faced criticism from some lawyers for its lack of visible progress toward prosecutions. The court is not part of the U.N. system.

“We look forward to, and expect to see, progress on the I.C.C. investigations this year,” Ms. Pillay said.

The commission is set to report its findings on the Gaza conflict to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June and to the U.N. General Assembly in October.



The U.N.’s atomic watchdog expresses worry that Israel could strike at Iran’s nuclear sites.

The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has said he is worried that Israel could strike one of Iran’s nuclear facilities in response to the large aerial attack by Iran over the weekend.

“We are always concerned about this possibility,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters on Monday evening after briefing the U.N. Security Council in New York.

The agency’s inspectors who operate in Iran had been told by the Iranian authorities that the nuclear facilities would be closed to them on Sunday because of “security considerations,” Mr. Grossi said. He decided that the inspectors should not return to the nuclear sites on Monday “until we see that the situation is completely calm,” but expected that they would return to work on Tuesday, he said.

Iran’s missile and drone attack, which was largely thwarted, was believed to be the first time Tehran had fired directly at Israel, and Israel’s war cabinet is weighing a range of possible retaliatory measures. World leaders including President Biden have urged Israel to avoid taking action that could escalate the situation, though some hard-line Israelis are urging military strikes to degrade Iran’s nuclear program.

Experts say Iran is not racing to develop nuclear weapons, but Mr. Grossi said the fact that Tehran is able to enrich uranium to a point that is “very, very close technically, identical almost, to weapon-grade level,” raised concerns within the international community.

He urged Tehran to cooperate fully with the U.N. nuclear inspectors and said he hoped to visit Iran in the next few weeks.

Iran has more uranium that is close to bomb grade than it has in years, after a 2015 nuclear agreement forced it to give up 97 percent of its stockpile. President Donald J. Trump withdrew from that accord in 2018. In addition, Iran has begun to build some key nuclear facilities deep underground, making them harder to target in an airstrike.

Israeli settlers kill two Palestinians in the West Bank, officials say.

Israeli settlers fatally shot two Palestinians in the West Bank on Monday, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials, as tensions continued to spike in the Israeli-occupied territory.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry identified the two men as Abdelrahman Bani Fadel, 30, and Mohammad Bani Jama, 21. The circumstances of their deaths near the town of Aqraba remained unclear.

The Israeli military said the two men had been killed during a “violent exchange” between Israeli settlers and Palestinians that followed a report of a Palestinian attacking an Israeli shepherd. An initial investigation indicated that the gunfire “did not originate” from Israeli soldiers, the military said.

The two Palestinians appeared to have been shot by Israeli settlers on the scene, said an Israeli security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was still underway.

The killings fed fears that the West Bank could become another front for a country already in its seventh month of war in the Gaza Strip.

About 500,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank live alongside roughly 2.7 million Palestinians under Israeli military occupation. Since the war began on Oct. 7, more than 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces there and in East Jerusalem, according to the United Nations.

Over the past few days, a renewed wave of violence has swept through the West Bank.

On Friday, a 14-year-old Israeli teenager went missing, prompting Israeli settlers to riot inside a Palestinian village, Al Mughayir. Jihad Abu Aliya, a 25-year-old resident, was fatally shot during a mob attack, according to the village mayor, Amin Abu Aliya (the two were distant relatives).

The teenager, Binyamin Achimair, was found dead on Saturday after an intensive search; Israeli officials said he had been murdered in an act of terrorism and vowed to track down the perpetrators. In response, Israeli settlers, some of them armed, conducted a series of mob assaults in Palestinian towns, torching homes and cars, according to Palestinian witnesses.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Israelis to allow security forces to search for Mr. Achimair’s killers, but he did not denounce the mob attacks against Palestinians. Human rights groups have long charged that Israel turns a blind eye to settler violence and rarely brings perpetrators to justice.

In footage distributed on Sunday by Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group that tracks Jewish extremist violence in the West Bank, hooded figures can be seen setting a car ablaze while Israeli soldiers watch nearby without intervening.

The United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday that Israeli security forces “must immediately end their active participation in and support for settler attacks on Palestinians.”

“Israeli authorities must instead prevent further attacks including by bringing those responsible to account,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the office. “Those reasonably suspected of criminal acts, including murder or other unlawful killings, must be brought to justice,” she added.

Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, condemned Mr. Achimair’s killing in a statement on Monday. But he also said Washington was “increasingly concerned by the violence against Palestinian civilians and their property that ensued in the West Bank after Achimair’s disappearance.”

“We strongly condemn these murders, and our thoughts are with their loved ones,” Mr. Miller said. “ The violence must stop. Civilians are never legitimate targets.”

Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting.



Here’s where Israel’s military offensive in Gaza stands.

Iran’s attack on Israel has shifted focus from the war in Gaza, but Israeli military operations press on there with the aim of eliminating Hamas, the armed group that controlled the territory before the fighting began.

Israel’s military launched its assault in Gaza after Oct. 7, when Hamas led an attack that Israeli authorities say killed around 1,200 people. Israel said its aims were to defeat Hamas and free the hostages taken that day, around 100 of whom remain in Gaza. Local health authorities say the war has killed more than 33,000 people, and the United Nations says the population is on the brink of famine.

Here is a look at where the military conflict stands:

Southern Gaza

Israel withdrew its forces from southern Gaza this month, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the military still plans to invade Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, to “complete the elimination of Hamas’s battalions” and to destroy its tunnel networks.

The timing of any operation in Rafah, on the border with Egypt, is unclear. President Biden is among many world leaders who have urged Israel not to invade the city because of the harm it could cause civilians. Rafah’s population has swelled to over a million, as people have flocked there for shelter from fighting elsewhere, and border crossings in southern Gaza are a main conduit for humanitarian aid.

Northern Gaza

Israel began its ground invasion in northern Gaza in late October, urging civilians to leave. Much of the north, including Gaza City, has been destroyed by airstrikes and ground combat. Israel began to pull its forces from northern Gaza in January, saying it had dismantled Hamas’s military structure there.

In March, however, Israeli troops mounted an operation at Al-Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City, where it said Hamas fighters had returned. Israeli troops said they had killed about 200 fighters and captured 500 more. The hospital, once Gaza’s largest, was left in ruins.

Some analysts said the raid showed that by leaving northern Gaza without a plan in place for governing the area, Israel had made it possible for Hamas to return. At the same time, some civilians who had fled south and attempted to return via a coastal road said this week that Israeli forces had fired on them. Their testimony could not be independently confirmed.

Central Gaza

The Israeli troops that remain in Gaza are mainly guarding a road that the military has built across the center of the strip to facilitate its operations. The Institute for the Study of War, a research group, said that was consistent with Israel’s plans to shift to a strategy of more targeted raids rather than wider assaults.Israel retains the capacity to launch airstrikes anywhere in Gaza and it has conducted several around the central city of Deir al Balah. This month, Israeli planes attacked a convoy of the World Central Kitchen charity near the city, killing seven aid workers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said that Israel regrets the strikes.

Across the territory

Experts say the Israeli military has had considerable success in dismantling Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades. It has broken the strength of most of its battalions with tens of thousands of airstrikes and ground combat, said Robert Blecher, an expert at the International Crisis Group think tank.

Israel has also killed at least one of Hamas’s top commanders and has destroyed some of the tunnels in which the group operates. But Hamas retains significant organizational and military capacity, particularly in southern Gaza where its tunnel network acts as a shield, and its leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is still at large.

“Israel has done a good job of disabling those stronger battalions,” Mr. Blecher said, but he added: “Hamas is going to remain as an insurgent force.”

U.S. Lays Out Protections for Assange if He Is Extradited

The possibility that Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, could be extradited to the United States seemed to edge closer on Tuesday, after American officials sent assurances to British authorities that he would not face the death penalty or be persecuted for his nationality, and that he could seek First Amendment protections.

The assurances were the latest turn in a prolonged legal battle over the extradition of Mr. Assange, who has been indicted by the United States for violating the Espionage Act by publishing classified documents. They came after a remark from President Biden last week that the administration was considering a request from Mr. Assange’s home country of Australia that he be allowed to return there, prompting speculation that the U.S. could be rethinking the case.

But the filing of the commitments, requested by a British court last month as part of Mr. Assange’s five-year battle against extradition to the United States, suggested that American authorities may still be pursuing his removal.

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For Israel’s Allies, Iranian Missile Strike Scrambles Debate Over Gaza

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain was facing a chorus of calls to cut off arms shipments to Israel because of its devastating war in Gaza. On Monday, Mr. Sunak saluted the British warplanes that had shot down several Iranian drones as part of a successful campaign to thwart Iran’s attack on Israel.

It was a telling example of how the clash between Israel and Iran has scrambled the equation in the Middle East. Faced with a barrage of Iranian missiles, Britain, the United States, France and others rushed to Israel’s aid. They set aside their anger over Gaza to defend it from a country they view as an archnemesis, even as they pleaded for restraint in Israel’s response to the Iranian assault.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose approval of a deadly airstrike on a meeting of Iranian generals in Damascus on April 1 provoked Iran’s retaliation, has managed to change the narrative, according to British and American diplomats and analysts. But it could prove to be a fleeting change, they said, if Mr. Netanyahu orders a counterstrike damaging enough to pitch the region into wider war.

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Ukraine’s Big Vulnerabilities: Ammunition, Soldiers and Air Defense

Ukraine’s top military commander has issued a bleak assessment of the army’s positions on the eastern front, saying they have “worsened significantly in recent days.”

Russian forces were pushing hard to exploit their growing advantage in manpower and ammunition to break through Ukrainian lines, the commander, Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, said in a statement over the weekend.

“Despite significant losses, the enemy is increasing his efforts by using new units on armored vehicles, thanks to which he periodically achieves tactical gains,” the general said.

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‘Canceled’ for Protesting Cancel Culture, Europe’s Right-Wingers Rejoice

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A mayor in Brussels on Tuesday sent police officers to break up a gathering of prominent, self-described “anti-woke” conservatives from across Europe, including Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, declaring “the far-right is not welcome” before the authorities quickly retreated.

Emir Kir, the Socialist Party mayor of the central Brussels neighborhood where the gathering took place, issued the order to close the National Conservatism Conference on grounds of “public safety.” But critics said that Mr. Kir’s order only amplified one of the gathering’s main themes: that cancel culture targeting conservative voices has run amok.

“This is what we are up against. We are up against an evil ideology. We are up against a new form of communism,” declared Nigel Farage of Britain. Mr. Farage, a former member of the European Parliament and a champion of national sovereignty, who helped drive his country’s exit from the European Union, was getting ready to speak when the authorities arrived. “This is like the old Soviet Union. No alternative view allowed,” he said.

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The Paris Olympics’ One Sure Thing: Cyberattacks

In his office on one of the upper floors of the headquarters of the Paris Olympic organizing committee, Franz Regul has no doubt what is coming.

“We will be attacked,” said Mr. Regul, who leads the team responsible for warding off cyberthreats against this year’s Summer Games in Paris.

Companies and governments around the world now all have teams like Mr. Regul’s that operate in spartan rooms equipped with banks of computer servers and screens with indicator lights that warn of incoming hacking attacks. In the Paris operations center, there is even a red light to alert the staff to the most severe danger.

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Germany’s Leader Walks a Fine Line in China

Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany tried to strike a delicate balance on a trip to China this week, promoting business ties with his country’s biggest trading partner while raising concerns over its surge of exports to Europe and its support for Russia.

Mr. Scholz met with China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Tuesday, the culmination of a three-day visit with a delegation of German officials and business leaders. He also met with Premier Li Qiang as the two countries navigate relations strained by Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s rivalry with the United States, Germany’s most important ally.

Throughout his trip, Mr. Scholz promoted the interests of German companies that are finding it increasingly hard to compete in China. And he conveyed growing concern in the European Union that the region’s market is becoming a dumping ground for Chinese goods produced at a loss.

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Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange Building Partly Collapses in Fire

The old stock exchange building in downtown Copenhagen — one of the city’s oldest structures, known for its elaborate spire of intertwined dragon tails — partly collapsed in a large fire early Tuesday.

No one was injured, according to a statement from King Frederik X. Images and video from social media showed flames on the structure’s roof and dark clouds of smoke lingering over the city.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire in the structure, which appeared to be undergoing renovations. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the blaze was still burning with “pockets of fire” in the building, an official with the Copenhagen fire department said.

The king said that the building’s famed spire had helped define Copenhagen as a “city of towers.”

“Until today, we have regarded the historic building as a beautiful symbol of our capital and a building that we, as a nation, have been proud of,” he said.

The authorities responded to the fire just after 7:30 a.m., officials said in a news conference on Tuesday. Around 200 people have been involved in fighting the fire.

“It’s still difficult to work in large parts of the building,” said Jakob Vedsted Andersen, the executive director of the Greater Copenhagen Fire Department. “The entire structure has collapsed inside, so there are pockets of fire. However, there’s no danger of the fire spreading to other buildings.”

It will take days for the authorities to piece together what caused one of Denmark’s most prized buildings to go up in flames.

Jakob Engel-Schmidt, Denmark’s culture minister, said in an interview early Tuesday that it was “dreadful” to see the building in flames. “The building represents over 400 years of Danish history,” he said, using “Borsen,” the Danish name for the building. “It’s one of the last structures in the world in Dutch Renaissance style, where trade has been conducted throughout the entire period.”

Amid the chaos, the police in Copenhagen said on social media that they had evacuated several surrounding buildings, and urged people to avoid the area.

The old stock exchange building, a 17th-century structure that was once the financial center of Denmark, also housed several historical paintings and other artifacts. City officials rushed the valued pieces out of the building after the fire broke out. At the time of the fire, the building was occupied by Dansk Erhverv, a business organization.

One of the larger works carried to safety was Peder Severin Kroyer’s “From Copenhagen Stock Exchange,” according to a local news outlet. The work, which was painted in 1895 and depicts several key Danish financial figures, is more than 13 feet long. It took six people to remove it to safety.

Denmark’s National Museum said on social media that it had sent dozens of workers to the building to remove cultural objects and assess the damage of others before safely stowing them away.

Mr. Engel-Schmidt said the old stock exchange’s artworks “tell us something about ourselves as a nation and as a people.” He added that the building had been the backdrop of countless historical events, and that it was ingrained in the Danish psyche.

“That’s why there are people standing in the streets, looking incredibly sad,” he said. “It affects me, too.”

Several other officials lamented the fire, including Jan Jorgensen, a member of Parliament for the Liberal Party, who called for the old stock exchange to be rebuilt. “Probably the most iconic building in Copenhagen,” he said on social media. “All forces must be united to have this old, beautiful house rebuilt in all its power and splendor.”

The building was constructed at the direction of King Christian IV, who had recognized the importance of trade and commerce, according to the Visit Copenhagen tourism website. The original structure contained at least 40 market stalls and was surrounded by water on three sides to help ships easily unload their cargo.

As fire crews fought the flames on Tuesday, dozens of onlookers quietly stood on the street, watching in shock, including Celeste Bolvinkil Andersen, who said she had woken up when she heard her roommate shouting about the fire.

“It feels a bit like becoming a firsthand witness to history,” she said. “I can’t help but sit here deeply, deeply disappointed in myself, for not having gone inside and seen the Borsen from the inside. And now it’s completely gone.”

On Himalayan Hillsides Grows Japan’s Cold, Hard Cash

Bhadra Sharma and

Bhadra Sharma reported from Kathmandu and Puwamajhuwa village in Nepal, and Alex Travelli from New Delhi.

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The views are spectacular in this corner of eastern Nepal, between the world’s highest mountains and the tea estates of India’s Darjeeling district, where rare orchids grow and red pandas play on the lush hillsides.

But life can be tough. Wild animals destroyed the corn and potato crops of Pasang Sherpa, a farmer born near Mount Everest. He gave up on those plants a dozen years ago and resorted to raising one that seemed to have little value: argeli, an evergreen, yellow-flowering shrub found wild in the Himalayas. Farmers grew it for fencing or firewood.

Mr. Sherpa had no idea that bark stripped from his argeli would one day turn into pure money — the outgrowth of an unusual trade in which one of the poorest pockets of Asia supplies a primary ingredient for the economy in one of the richest.

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Expert Panel Calls on Germany to Legalize Abortion in First 12 Weeks

A government-appointed commission in Germany recommended on Monday that lawmakers legalize abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy, a move that could push the country into a long-avoided debate on an issue that for decades remained in a legal gray zone.

Outside of exceptions for medical reasons or because of rape, abortions in Germany are technically illegal. But, in practice, they are broadly permitted in the first 12 weeks if a woman has received mandatory counseling and then waits at least three days to terminate the pregnancy.

Abortion rights activists say Germany has grown increasingly out of sync with the rest of Europe, where several countries have recently moved to loosen restrictions on abortion or to bolster laws protecting access to the procedure — especially after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

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Far Right’s Ties to Russia Sow Rising Alarm in Germany

To enter a secret session of Germany’s Parliament, lawmakers must lock their phones and leave them outside. Inside, they are not even allowed to take notes. Yet to many politicians, these precautions against espionage now feel like something of a farce.

Because seated alongside them in those classified meetings are members of the Alternative for Germany, the far-right party known by its German abbreviation, AfD.

In the past few months alone, a leading AfD politician was accused of taking money from pro-Kremlin strategists. One of the party’s parliamentary aides was exposed as having links to a Russian intelligence operative. And some of its state lawmakers flew to Moscow to observe Russia’s stage-managed elections.

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One Year of War in Sudan: How Two Rival Generals Wrecked Their Country

The forces of two rival generals have laid waste to Sudan for a year now, unleashing a wave of violence that has driven 8.6 million people from their homes — now one of the largest waves of displaced people in the world.

The war has reordered Africa’s third-largest nation with breathtaking speed. It has gutted the capital, Khartoum, once a major center of commerce and culture on the Nile. Deserted neighborhoods are now filled with bullet-scarred buildings and bodies buried in shallow graves, according to residents and aid workers.

More than a third of Sudan’s 48 million people are facing catastrophic levels of hunger, according to the United Nations, since harvests and aid deliveries have been disrupted. Nearly 230,000 severely malnourished children and new mothers are facing death in the coming months if they don’t get food and health care, the U.N. Population Fund has warned. Dozens of hospitals and clinics have been shuttered, aid workers say. The closure of schools and universities in a country that once drew many foreign students has precipitated what the U.N. says is “the worst education crisis in the world.”

A map of Sudan showing the Darfur region and El Gezira state. The cities of Khartoum, Omdurman and Wad Madani are labeled. The surrounding countries labeled include Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya and South Sudan.

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Reeling From Mass Stabbing, Australians Ask: Was It About Hatred of Women?

Mary Aravanopoulos stood clutching her daughter, huddling for safety with about 15 other women in the dress shop filled with ethereal organza gowns. They had watched a man saunter past in the mall corridor, swinging a large knife in his hand back and forth.

Soon, they heard about one woman getting stabbed, then another.

Amid the confusion in those panicked moments, Ms. Aravanopoulos said she immediately thought to herself: “Oh, my God, it’s all about women.”

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A Show of Might in the Skies Over Israel

Iran’s much-anticipated retaliation for Israel’s killing of senior military leaders produced a fiery aerial display in the skies over Israel and the West Bank.

But in important ways, military analysts say, it was just that: a highly choreographed spectacle.

The more than 300 drones and missiles that hurtled through Iraqi and Jordanian airspace Saturday night before they were brought down seemed designed to create maximum drama while inflicting minimal damage, defense officials and military experts say. Just as they did back in 2020 when retaliating for the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iranian leaders this weekend gave plenty of warning that they were launching strikes.

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War or No War, Ukrainians Aren’t Giving Up Their Coffee

When Russian tanks first rolled into Ukraine more than two years ago, Artem Vradii was sure his business was bound to suffer.

“Who would think about coffee in this situation?” thought Mr. Vradii, the co-founder of a Kyiv coffee roastery named Mad Heads. “Nobody would care.”

But over the next few days after the invasion began, he started receiving messages from Ukrainian soldiers. One asked for bags of ground coffee because he could not stand the energy drinks supplied by the army. Another simply requested beans: He had taken his own grinder to the front.

“I was really shocked,” Mr. Vradii said in a recent interview at his roastery, a 40-foot-high brick building buzzing with the sound of grinding coffee and filled with the smell of freshly ground beans. “Despite the war, people were still thinking about coffee. They could leave their homes, their habits. But they could not live without coffee.”

The soldiers’ requests are just one facet of a little-known cornerstone of the Ukrainian lifestyle today: its vibrant coffee culture.

Over the past decade, coffee shops have proliferated across Ukraine, in cities large and small. That is particularly true in Kyiv, the capital, where small coffee kiosks staffed by trained baristas serving tasty mochas for less than $2 have become a fixture of the streetscape.

Walk into one of Kyiv’s hidden courtyards and there’s a good chance you’ll find a coffee shop with baristas busy perfecting their latte art behind the counter.

Coffee culture has flourished globally — even in tea-obsessed Britain — but in Ukraine over the past two years, it has taken on a special meaning as a sign of resilience and defiance.

“Everything will be fine,” said Maria Yevstafieva, an 18-year-old barista who was preparing a latte on a recent morning in a Kyiv coffee shop that had just been damaged by a missile attack. The shop’s glass window had been shattered by the blast and had fallen onto the counter, but Ms. Yevstafieva was unfazed.

“How can they break us?” she is heard saying in a video, referring to the Russian Army. “We have a strike, we make coffee.”

Before the war, Ukraine was one of the fastest-growing coffee markets in Europe, according to the Allegra World Coffee Portal, a research group. In Kyiv, the number of coffee shops continued to grow even after the Russian invasion, reaching some 2,500 shops today, according to Pro-Consulting, a Ukrainian marketing research group.

The Girkiy chain, for example, is hard to miss in the capital, with more than 70 coffee shops. Its mint-colored kiosks stand at the foot of centuries-old Orthodox churches and around Kyiv’s main squares.

On a recent afternoon, Yelyzaveta Holota, an 18-year-old barista, was busy in her kiosk preparing orders. She had been on the job for only four months, but she already had a confident touch: She weighed the ground coffee, tamped it into a portafilter and, after pouring an espresso into a cup, gave it a little swirl to bring out the flavors.

The technique has to be perfect, she said, because the competition is fierce. Six other coffee shops line the street where she works in central Kyiv, including a second one from Girkiy, which means “bitter” in Ukrainian.

Founded in 2015, the chain used to serve low-quality coffee, focusing instead on speed. But in 2020, Oleh Astashev, the founder, visited the Barn in Berlin, a craft coffee institution that roasts its own coffee.

The visit impressed and inspired him. Back in Kyiv, he built his own roastery, bought top-of-the-range Italian coffee machines and started training his baristas.

“We changed everything: the name, the service, the products, the quality of the coffee beans, the quality of the water,” he said. “Anybody should be able to drink high-quality coffee.”

The chain’s former name was “Gorkiy,” or bitter in Russian.

Mr. Astashev’s story reflects how the country’s coffee boom is linked to its broader rapprochement with Europe.

After Ukraine’s revolution on Maidan Square in 2014, which toppled a pro-Russian president, the country strengthened its ties to Europe, including through visa-free entry for its citizens. Many Ukrainians traveled west, discovering a coffee culture that had not yet penetrated their borders. Soon enough, they were bringing it back home.

“We wanted our coffee shops in Kyiv to be like in Europe,” said Maryna Dobzovolska, 39, who co-founded the Right Coffee Bar with her husband, Oleksii Gurtov, in 2017.

Ask Ukraine’s coffee entrepreneurs about Vienna’s famous coffeehouses or Italy’s signature espresso and they’ll dismiss them as a “conservative” and “old-fashioned” view of coffee culture.

Their model was cities like Berlin and Stockholm, where a so-called third wave of coffee shops has mushroomed in the past two decades, emphasizing high-quality beans and innovative recipes.

Most recently, Ms. Dobzovolska and Mr. Gurtov have been experimenting with anaerobic coffee, a processing method that involves fermenting coffee in sealed tanks without oxygen, giving the beverage fruity flavors.

“Try it. You’ll love it,” Mr. Gurtov, 49, said as he poured the steaming, purple drink.

Always willing to push the boundaries, Ukrainian baristas have also popularized the “Capuorange” — a double shot of espresso mixed with fresh orange juice — now on sale everywhere in Kyiv.

Several foreigners said they were amazed by the quality of the coffee in a country that, since the Soviet era, had consumed mostly instant coffee.

“This is the best coffee in the world,” said Michael McLaughlin, a 51-year-old American who does volunteer work in Ukraine, as he ordered an Americano on Maidan Square on a recent afternoon.

Some say it’s simply a return to Ukraine’s roots.

Legend has it that the man who opened the first cafe in Vienna in the late 17th century was Jerzy Kulczycki, a soldier born in modern-day Ukraine. He is honored with a life-size statue in Lviv that praises him as the war hero “who taught Europe to drink coffee.”

Volodymyr Efremov, a coffee roaster at Idealist, a major Ukrainian coffee brand, said his goal was now to “popularize” specialty coffee all around the country.

In today’s Ukraine, there is perhaps no better way to achieve that goal than with the army. Every month, Idealist and other coffee producers give the military tens of thousands of drip coffee bags — single-serve, pour-over sachets filled with ground coffee. These are some of the finest products on the Ukrainian coffee market.

On social networks, soldiers have posted videos of themselves pouring hot water into drip coffee bags placed on iron cups before savoring the steaming drink in a log trench.

Standing near an artillery position last year, a junior Ukrainian sergeant, Maksim — who did not give his family name as per military rules — was boiling water in a small white kettle, a bag of Mad Heads ground coffee at his side. His unit had just fired an Australian-manufactured howitzer at Russian targets on the southern front, and he was in the mood for a good cup of coffee.

For five straight minutes he discussed the degree of water mineralization needed to achieve the perfect brew, the quality of the single-origin beans that make it “taste like honey-alcohol-banana coffee” and how the drink should be sipped to “perceive more flavors.”

Maksim, whose call sign is Stayer, said his fellow soldiers had found the Mad Heads coffee “delicious and asked where I got it.”

“I said, ‘Guys, it’s the 21st century. Let’s eat properly, even if we’re in the military.’”

Michael Schwirtz contributed reporting.

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5-Star Bird Houses for Picky but Precious Guests: Nesting Swiftlets

With no windows, the gloomy, gray building looming four stories above the rice fields in a remote village in Indonesian Borneo resembles nothing more than a prison.

Hundreds of similar concrete structures, riddled with small holes for ventilation, tower over village shops and homes all along Borneo’s northwestern coast.

But these buildings are not for people. They are for the birds. Specifically, the swiftlet, which builds its nests inside.

Map shows the location of Perapakan in the Sambas Regency on Borneo, Indonesia.

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Israeli Army Withdraws From Major Gaza Hospital, Leaving Behind a Wasteland

The journalists were among a small group of international reporters brought by the Israeli army to Al-Shifa Hospital on Sunday. To join the tour, they agreed to stay with the Israeli forces at all times and not to photograph the faces of certain commandos.

Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, once the fulcrum of Gaza’s health system and now an emblem of its destruction, stood in ruins on Sunday, as if a tsunami had surged through it followed by a tornado.

The emergency department was a tidy, off-white building until Israeli troops returned there in March. Two weeks later, it was missing most of its facade, scorched with soot, and punctured with hundreds of bullets and shells.

The eastern floors of the surgery department were left open to the breeze, the walls blown off and the equipment buried under mounds of debris. The bridge connecting the two buildings was no longer there, and the plaza between them — formerly a circular driveway wrapping around a gazebo — had been churned by Israeli armored vehicles into a wasteland of uprooted trees, upturned cars and a half-crushed ambulance.

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A Stork, a Fisherman and Their Unlikely Bond Enchant Turkey

Ben Hubbard and

Reporting from Eskikaraagac, Turkey

Thirteen years ago, a poor fisherman in a small Turkish village was retrieving his net from a lake when he heard a noise behind him and turned to find a majestic being standing on the bow of his rowboat.

Gleaming white feathers covered its head, neck and chest, yielding to black plumes on its wings. It stood atop skinny orange legs that nearly matched the color of its long, pointy beak.

The fisherman, Adem Yilmaz, recognized it as one of the white storks that had long summered in the village, he recalled, but he had never seen one so close, much less hosted one on his boat.

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The Japanese Sensei Bringing Baseball to Brazil

Reporting from Rio de Janeiro

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Yukihiro Shimura always arrives first. He quietly puts on his baseball uniform. He rakes the dirt field meditatively. He picks up the coconut husks and dog poop. And, finally, when he finishes, he bows to Rio de Janeiro’s only baseball field.

Then his misfit team — including a geologist, graphic designer, English teacher, film student, voice actor and motorcycle delivery man — starts to form. Most are in their 20s and 30s, and some are still learning the basics of throwing, catching and swinging a bat.

It was not what Mr. Shimura envisioned when he signed up for this gig. “In my mind, the age range would be 15 to 18,” he said. “I should have asked.”

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Even Before the Olympics, a Victory Lap for a Fast-Moving French Mayor

Reporting from St.-Ouen, France

The mayor grew up in a building so decrepit — filthy hallways, no private toilets, no showers — that his friends in nearby concrete towers pitied him.

Five decades later, that building — in St.-Ouen, a Paris suburb — is a distant memory, and in its place rises France’s Olympic pride: the athletes’ village, with its architectural-showcase buildings that are outfitted with solar panels, deep-sinking pipes for cooling and heating, and graceful balconies from which to look down on the forest planted below. One-quarter will become public housing after the Games.

“All of a sudden, we have the same feeling of pride as people living in the hypercenter,” said the mayor of St.-Ouen, Karim Bouamrane, 51, using his personal shorthand for the glamorous downtown playgrounds of the elites. “There was Los Angeles, Barcelona, Beijing, London, Sydney and, now, there is St.-Ouen.”

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Documentary Filmmaker Explores Japan’s Rigorous Education Rituals

The defining experience of Ema Ryan Yamazaki’s childhood left her with badly scraped knees and her classmates with broken bones.

During sixth grade in Osaka, Japan, Ms. Yamazaki — now a 34-year-old documentary filmmaker — practiced for weeks with classmates to form a human pyramid seven levels high for an annual school sports day. Despite the blood and tears the children shed as they struggled to make the pyramid work, the accomplishment she felt when the group kept it from toppling became “a beacon of why I feel like I am resilient and hard-working.”

Now, Ms. Yamazaki, who is half-British, half-Japanese, is using her documentary eye to chronicle such moments that she believes form the essence of Japanese character, for better or worse.

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From New England to Notre-Dame, a U.S. Carpenter Tends to a French Icon

Notre-Dame Cathedral sat in the pre-dawn chill like a spaceship docked in the heart of Paris, its exoskeleton of scaffolding lit by bright lights. Pink clouds appeared to the east as machinery hummed to life and workers started clambering around.

One of them, Hank Silver, wearing a yellow hard hat, stood on a platform above the Seine River and attached cables to oak trusses shaped like massive wooden triangles. A crane hoisted them onto the nave of the cathedral, which was devastated by fire in 2019.

Mr. Silver — a 41-year-old American-Canadian carpenter — is something of an unlikely candidate to work on the restoration of an 860-year-old Gothic monument and Catholic landmark in France. Born in New York City into an observant Jewish family, he owns a small timber framing business in rural New England and admits that until recently he didn’t even know what a nave was.

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Insooni Breaks Racial Barrier to Become Beloved Singer in South Korea

When she took the stage to perform at Carnegie Hall in front of 107 Korean War veterans, the singer Kim Insoon was thinking of her father, an American soldier stationed in South Korea during the postwar decades whom she had never met or even seen.

“You are my fathers,” she told the soldiers in the audience before singing “Father,” one of her Korean-language hits.

“To me, the United States has always been my father’s country,” Ms. Kim said in a recent interview, recalling that 2010 performance. “It was also the first place where I wanted to show how successful I had become — without him and in spite of him.”

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An American Who Has Helped Clear 815,000 Bombs From Vietnam

On a visit to the former battlefield of Khe Sanh, scene of one of the bloodiest standoffs of the Vietnam War, the only people Chuck Searcy encountered on the broad, barren field were two young boys who led him to an unexploded rocket lying by a ditch.

One of the youngsters reached out to give the bomb a kick until Mr. Searcy cried out, “No, Stop!”

“It was my first encounter with unexploded ordnance,” Mr. Searcy said of that moment in 1992. “I had no idea that I would be dedicating my life to removing them.”

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A Soccer Team Stopped Charging for Tickets. Should Others Do the Same?

Neither Paris F.C. nor St.-Étienne will have much reason to remember the game fondly. There was, really, precious little to remember at all: no goals, few shots, little drama — a drab, rain-sodden stalemate between the French capital’s third-most successful soccer team and the country’s sleepiest giant.

That was on the field. Off it, the 17,000 or so fans in attendance can consider themselves part of a philosophical exercise that might play a role in shaping the future of the world’s most popular sport.

Last November, Paris F.C. became home to an unlikely revolution by announcing that it was doing away with ticket prices for the rest of the season. There were a couple of exceptions: a nominal fee for fans supporting the visiting team, and market rates for those using hospitality suites.

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‘Get Ready to Scream’: How to Be a Baseball Fan in South Korea

In the United States, many Major League Baseball games feature long periods of calm, punctuated by cheering when there’s action on the field or the stadium organ plays a catchy tune.

But in South Korea, a baseball game is a sustained sensory overload. Each player has a fight song, and cheering squads — including drummers and dancers who stand on platforms near the dugouts facing the spectators — ensure that there is near-constant chanting. Imagine being at a ballpark where every player, even a rookie, gets the star treatment.

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Adidas Stops Customization of Germany Jersey for Fear of Nazi Symbolism

The sports apparel giant Adidas abruptly stopped the sale of German soccer jerseys created with the player number “44” this week because the figure, when depicted in the official lettering of the uniform’s design, too closely resembled a well-known Nazi symbol.

The stylized square font used by Adidas for the jerseys, which will be worn by Germany’s team when it hosts this summer’s European soccer championships, makes the “44” resemble the “SS” emblem used by the Schutzstaffel, the feared Nazi paramilitary group that was instrumental in the murder of six million Jews. The emblem is one of dozens of Nazi symbols, phrases and gestures that are banned in Germany.

The country’s soccer federation, which is responsible for the design, said Monday any similarity to the logo created by the design’s numbering was unintentional.

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Canadian Skaters Demand Bronze Medals in Olympics Dispute

Nearly a month after international figure skating’s governing body revised the results of a marquee competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, stripping Russia of the gold medal and giving the United States team a long-delayed victory, a new fight about the outcome erupted on Monday.

Eight members of the Canadian squad that competed in the team competition in Beijing have filed a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport demanding that they be awarded bronze medals in the team event. The court announced the filing but revealed no details.

The Canadians, whose case was joined by their country’s skating federation and national Olympic committee, are expected to argue that figure skating’s global governing body erred when it revised the results of the competition in January after a Russian skater who had taken part, the teenage prodigy Kamila Valieva, was given a four-year ban for doping.

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In Latin America, a New Frontier for Women: Professional Softball in Mexico

Reporting from Mexico City and León, Mexico

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In many parts of Latin America, baseball is a popular and well-established sport with men’s professional leagues in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, among others. But women wanting to play baseball’s cousin — softball — professionally had only one option: to leave. They had to go to the United States or Japan.

Until now.

In what is believed to be a first in Latin America — a region where men often have more opportunities than women, particularly in sports — a professional women’s softball league has started in Mexico. On Jan. 25, when the inaugural season began, 120 women on six teams got to call themselves professional softball players, many for the first time.

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¿Fue misoginia? Australia se cuestiona tras el ataque masivo

Mary Aravanopoulos estaba abrazada a su hija, acurrucada para ponerse a salvo con otras 15 mujeres en la tienda de vestidos de organza etéreos. Habían visto pasar a un hombre por el pasillo del centro comercial, sin prisa, balanceando en la mano un gran cuchillo.

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

Pronto oyeron que apuñalaban a una mujer y luego a otra.

En medio de la confusión de aquellos momentos de pánico, Aravanopoulos dijo que pensó inmediatamente: “Dios mío, es contra las mujeres”.

El lunes, muchos otros australianos habían llegado a la misma conclusión sobre el espeluznante ataque con arma blanca del fin de semana en un centro comercial de Sídney, en el que murieron seis personas, cinco de ellas mujeres. De la decena de personas que resultaron heridas por lo que al parecer fue un acto aleatorio de violencia masiva —uno de los más mortíferos ocurridos en el país en las últimas décadas—, todas menos dos eran mujeres, entre ellas una bebé de apenas 9 meses.

Es posible que nunca se aclaren los motivos del agresor, del que se sabía que padecía una enfermedad mental y que fue abatido a tiros por una inspectora de policía, Amy Scott.

Pero para muchas personas, fue un recordatorio más de la misoginia y las amenazas de violencia que pueden sufrir las mujeres en la sociedad australiana. Menos de 24 horas antes de los apuñalamientos, cientos de personas habían salido a la calle para protestar por la reciente cadena de asesinatos de tres mujeres. Y el lunes, la sentencia de un caso civil parecía dar validez a una denuncia de violación que se remontaba a años atrás y que obligaba a replantearse cómo la clase dirigente australiana, dominada por hombres, había victimizado a las mujeres durante décadas.

“La ideología del agresor estaba muy clara: odio a las mujeres”, escribió el lunes Josh Burns, miembro del Parlamento, en la red social X. “Debemos denunciarlo por lo que es”.

Para Maria Lewis, escritora y guionista, las acciones del agresor, por inexplicables que fueran, tenían ecos de una idea australiana de lo que significa ser hombre.

“La cultura de ‘hermanos que apoyan a hermanos’ está tan profunda e intrínsecamente ligada a la idea australiana de masculinidad”, afirma. “Esa idea cargada de testosterona de lo que representa la masculinidad se refuerza constantemente en la cultura pop”.

El lunes fue un día de luto nacional en Australia, con las banderas ondeando a media asta en todo el país. El atacante fue identificado por las autoridades como Joel Cauchi, de 40 años, un hombre conocido por las autoridades que nunca había sido detenido.

“El desglose por sexos es, por supuesto, preocupante”, dijo el primer ministro Anthony Albanese en una entrevista radiofónica el lunes por la mañana, afirmando que la policía estaba investigando si el atacante había atacado deliberadamente a mujeres.

Cauchi se había mudado recientemente miles de kilómetros desde Queensland, en el noreste del país, a la zona de Sídney.

En Toowoomba, Queensland, los periodistas congregados frente a su casa le preguntaron al padre de Cauchi, Andrew Cauchi, por qué su hijo, que no había estado en contacto regular con su familia, podía haber atacado a mujeres.

Cauchi padre dijo que podía deberse a la frustración que le producía su incapacidad para salir con mujeres.

“Quería una novia, no tenía habilidades sociales y se sentía frustrado hasta el tuétano”, declaró Cauchi a los medios de comunicación locales.

Tessa Boyd-Caine, directora ejecutiva de la Organización Nacional de Investigación para la Seguridad de las Mujeres de Australia, dijo que era comprensible que la gente buscara una explicación basada en el género inmediatamente después del ataque. Al mismo tiempo, advirtió que la inmensa mayoría de los casos de violencia contra las mujeres se producen en el hogar y a manos de personas conocidas, y no de forma indiscriminada, como en el ataque del sábado.

“¿Cómo entender un acto aleatorio de violencia tan brutal y mortal, perpetrado por un hombre que la policía considera que podría haber atacado a mujeres?”, dijo. “Es una fase tan temprana de la investigación, pero la gente va a querer respuestas a preguntas difíciles”.

El lunes ya habían sido identificadas las seis víctimas mortales de los apuñalamientos del sábado. Las mujeres eran Ashlee Good, de 38 años y madre primeriza; Jade Young, de 47 años y madre de dos hijas; Dawn Singleton, de 25 años y empleada del sector de la moda; Pikria Darchia, de 55 años, artista y diseñadora; y Yixuan Cheng, de nacionalidad china y estudiante en Sídney. El único hombre era Faraz Tahir, de 30 años, guardia de seguridad y recién llegado de Pakistán.

Las autoridades policiales declararon el lunes que habían concluido la investigación de la extensa escena del crimen y devuelto el control del complejo comercial a sus operadores.

Frente al lugar, que permanecía cerrado, un flujo constante de dolientes seguía dejando flores el lunes, que se sumaban a una gran pila que había crecido hasta extenderse por varios escaparates. Muchos de los visitantes eran grupos de mujeres: madres e hijas cogidas de la mano, amigas que se secaban las lágrimas unas a otras, mujeres que parecían aferrarse un poco más a sus hijas.

Aravanopoulos y su hija, Alexia Costa, estaban entre los que dejaban flores. Habían vuelto para recuperar su automóvil, que desde el sábado había quedado inaccesible en el centro comercial acordonado.

Aravanopoulos, de 55 años, dijo que se sentía especialmente culpable por el roce con el peligro del sábado, porque había insistido en ir de compras esa tarde a fin de elegir un vestido para el próximo cumpleaños, 21 años, de su hija. Como mujer que trabaja en el sector de la construcción, dominado por los hombres, ha educado a sus hijas para que nunca se echen atrás y siempre se defiendan.

“Creen que las mujeres no nos vamos a defender”, dijo.

Al creer que el atacante estaba escogiendo a mujeres, dijo que le estremecía pensar qué habría pasado si las jóvenes encargadas de la tienda no hubieran actuado con rapidez y bajado la puerta enrrollable.

“Era una tienda llena de mujeres, y las encargadas fueron las heroínas para nosotras”, relató.

Simone Scoppa, de 42 años, que también estuvo en el lugar de homenaje el lunes, dijo que la oleada de apuñalamientos era solo el más reciente incidente dirigido contra mujeres que le hace mirar por encima del hombro mientras pasea a su perro por la noche, incluso en su barrio de las afueras, y llevar las llaves en la mano como arma defensiva, por si acaso.

El hecho de que el lugar del atentado sea un centro comercial también hace que las mujeres se sientan vulnerables.

“¿Dónde van a estar muchas mujeres un sábado por la tarde?”, dijo Scoppa. “Ves a los padres y a los maridos en los asientos cuidando las bolsas, y a las madres amamantando”.

Yan Zhuang colaboró con reportería.

Victoria Kim es corresponsal en Seúl, y se centra en la cobertura de noticias en directo. Más de Victoria Kim

La ofensiva iraní dejó en evidencia un error de cálculo de Israel

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

Los ataques sin precedentes de Irán contra Israel del fin de semana pasado han sacudido las suposiciones de Israel sobre su enemigo, afectando sus estimaciones de que la mejor forma de disuadir a Irán era con una mayor agresión israelí.

Durante años, los funcionarios israelíes han alegado, tanto en público como en privado, que cuanto más fuerte sea el golpe contra Irán, más cauteloso será su gobierno a la hora de contratacar. El bombardeo iraní realizado con más de 300 aviones no tripulados y misiles el sábado —el primer ataque directo de Irán contra Israel— ha revocado esa lógica.

La ofensiva fue una respuesta al ataque de Israel realizado este mes en Siria que mató a siete oficiales militares iraníes. Los analistas afirmaron que la respuesta demostraba que los líderes de Teherán ya no se conforman con luchar contra Israel a través de sus diversas fuerzas aliadas, como Hizbulá en el Líbano o los hutíes en Yemen, sino que están preparados para enfrentarse a Israel de forma directa.

“Creo que calculamos mal”, dijo Sima Shine, exjefa de investigación del Mosad, la agencia de inteligencia exterior de Israel.

“La experiencia acumulada de Israel es que Irán no tiene buenos medios para tomar represalias”, añadió Shine. “Había una fuerte percepción de que no querían involucrarse en la guerra”.

En cambio, Irán ha creado “un paradigma completamente nuevo”, afirmó Shine.

Al final, la respuesta de Irán causó pocos daños en Israel, en gran parte porque Irán había telegrafiado sus intenciones con mucha antelación, dando a Israel y a sus aliados varios días para preparar una defensa fuerte. Irán también emitió una declaración, incluso antes de que terminara la ofensiva, de que no tenía más planes de atacar a Israel.

Sin embargo, los ataques de Irán han convertido una guerra que durante años se había librado en la sombra entre Israel e Irán en una confrontación directa, aunque aún podría contenerse, dependiendo de cómo responda Israel. Irán ha demostrado que tiene una capacidad armamentística considerable que solo puede contrarrestarse con un apoyo intensivo de los aliados de Israel, incluido Estados Unidos, lo que subraya cuánto daño podría infligir sin esa protección.

Irán e Israel solían tener una relación más ambigua, e Israel incluso le vendió armas a Irán durante la guerra entre Irán e Irak en la década de 1980. Pero sus vínculos se desgastaron después de que terminó la guerra. Los líderes iraníes se volvieron cada vez más críticos del enfoque de Israel hacia los palestinos e Israel se volvió cauteloso ante los esfuerzos de Irán por construir un programa nuclear y su mayor apoyo a Hizbulá.

Durante más de una década, ambos países han atacado de manera silenciosa los intereses del otro en toda la región, pero rara vez anunciaron alguna acción individual.

Irán ha apoyado a Hamás, además de financiar y armar a otras milicias regionales hostiles a Israel, varias de las cuales han estado involucradas en un conflicto de bajo nivel con Israel desde los ataques mortales que Hamás ejecutó el 7 de octubre. De manera similar, Israel ha atacado regularmente a esas fuerzas aliadas, así como a funcionarios iraníes a los cuales ha neutralizado, incluso en suelo iraní, asesinatos por los que ha evitado asumir responsabilidad formal.

Ambos países han atacado buques mercantes vinculados a sus oponentes y también han llevado a cabo ataques cibernéticos entre sí. Además, Israel ha saboteado repetidas veces el programa nuclear de Irán.

Ahora, esa guerra se está librando abiertamente. Y, en gran parte, se debe a lo que algunos analistas ven como un error de cálculo israelí del 1 de abril, cuando los ataques israelíes destruyeron parte del complejo de la embajada iraní en Damasco, Siria, uno de los aliados y representantes más cercanos de Irán, y mataron a los siete oficiales militares iraníes, incluidos tres altos comandantes.

El ataque se realizó tras repetidas insinuaciones de los líderes israelíes de que una mayor presión sobre Irán forzaría a Teherán a reducir sus ambiciones en todo Medio Oriente. “Un aumento de la presión ejercida sobre Irán es fundamental”, dijo en enero Yoav Galant, ministro de Defensa de Israel, “y podría evitar una escalada regional en ámbitos adicionales”.

En cambio, el ataque a Damasco desencadenó el primer ataque iraní contra territorio soberano israelí. Es posible que Israel haya malinterpretado la posición de Irán debido a la falta de respuesta iraní a anteriores asesinatos de altos funcionarios iraníes perpetrados por Israel, según dijeron los analistas.

Aunque durante mucho tiempo los líderes israelíes han temido que algún día Irán construya y dispare misiles nucleares contra Israel, se habían acostumbrado a atacar a funcionarios iraníes sin obtener represalias directas de Teherán.

En uno de los ataques más descarados, Israel asesinó al principal científico nuclear de Irán, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, en 2020, en suelo iraní. Incluso hace poco, en diciembre, Israel fue acusado de asesinar a un alto general iraní, Sayyed Razi Mousavi, en un ataque en Siria, donde funcionarios militares iraníes asesoran y apoyan al gobierno sirio. Esos y varios otros asesinatos no provocaron ataques iraníes de represalia contra Israel.

La decisión de Irán de responder esta vez fue motivada en parte por la indignación en algunos círculos de la sociedad iraní por la pasividad previa de Irán, según Ali Vaez, un analista sobre Irán.

“Nunca antes había visto el grado de presión que recibió el régimen desde la base en los últimos 10 días”, dijo Vaez, analista del International Crisis Group, un grupo de investigación con sede en Bruselas.

Irán también necesitaba demostrarles a sus fuerzas aliadas como Hizbulá que podía defenderse por sí mismo, añadió Vaez. “Demostrar que Irán tiene demasiado miedo para tomar represalias contra un ataque tan descarado a sus propias instalaciones diplomáticas en Damasco habría sido muy perjudicial para las relaciones de Irán y la credibilidad de los iraníes ante los ojos de sus socios regionales”, explicó.

Para algunos analistas, el ataque de Israel contra Damasco todavía podría resultar ser un error de cálculo menor de lo que parecía en un principio. El ataque aéreo de Irán ha distraído la atención de la tambaleante guerra de Israel contra Hamás y ha reafirmado los vínculos de Israel con los aliados occidentales y árabes que se habían vuelto cada vez más críticos de la conducta de Israel en la Franja de Gaza.

El hecho de que Irán le haya dado a Israel tanto tiempo para prepararse para el ataque podría indicar que Teherán sigue relativamente disuadido y que solo buscaba proyectar la imagen de una respuesta importante y, al mismo tiempo, evitar una escalada significativa, afirmó Michael Koplow, analista de Israel en Israel Policy Forum, un grupo de investigación con sede en Nueva York.

“Creo que todavía no hay certeza”, dijo Koplow.

Gabby Sobelman colaboró con este reportaje.

Patrick Kingsley es el jefe de la corresponsalía en Jerusalén, y lidera la cobertura de Israel, Gaza y Cisjordania. Más de Patrick Kingsley

En las laderas del Himalaya crece el dinero de Japón

Bhadra Sharma y

Bhadra Sharma reportó desde Katmandú y el pueblo de Puwamajhuwa, en Nepal, y Alex Travelli desde Nueva Delhi.

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El paisaje es espectacular en este rincón del este de Nepal, entre las montañas más altas del mundo y las plantaciones de té del distrito indio de Darjeeling, donde crecen raras orquídeas y los pandas rojos juegan en las exuberantes laderas.

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Pero la vida puede ser dura. Los animales salvajes destruyeron los cultivos de maíz y papas de Pasang Sherpa, un agricultor nacido cerca del Everest. Sherpa abandonó esas plantas hace más de una decena de años y recurrió a la cría de una que parecía tener poco valor: el argeli (Edgeworthia gardneri), un arbusto de hoja perenne y flores amarillas que se encuentra silvestre en el Himalaya. Los granjeros lo cultivaban para hacer vallas u obtener leña.

Sherpa no tenía ni idea de que la corteza arrancada del argeli se convertiría un día en dinero puro: el resultado de un comercio inusual en el que uno de los lugares más pobres de Asia suministra un insumo primario para la economía de uno de los más ricos.

La moneda japonesa se imprime en un papel especial que ya no se puede conseguir en el país. Los japoneses adoran sus anticuados billetes de yen, y este año necesitan montañas de billetes nuevos, así que Sherpa y sus vecinos tienen una lucrativa razón para aferrarse a sus laderas.

“No había pensado que estas materias primas se exportarían a Japón ni que yo ganaría dinero con esta planta”, dice Sherpa. “Ahora estoy muy contento. Este éxito surgió de la nada, creció en mi patio”.

Con sede a unos 4602 kilómetros de distancia, en Osaka, Kanpou Incorporated, produce el papel que el gobierno japonés utiliza para fines oficiales. Uno de los programas benéficos de Kanpou llevaba explorando las estribaciones del Himalaya desde los años noventa. Fue allí para ayudar a los agricultores locales a cavar pozos. Sus agentes acabaron dando con una solución para un problema japonés.

El suministro de mitsumata, el papel tradicional utilizado para imprimir los billetes de banco, se estaba agotando. El papel se fabrica con pulpa leñosa de plantas de la familia de las timeleáceas, que crecen a gran altitud con sol moderado y buen drenaje, un terreno propicio para el cultivo del té. La disminución de la población rural y el cambio climático estaban empujando a los agricultores japoneses a abandonar sus parcelas, que requerían mucha mano de obra.

El entonces presidente de Kanpou sabía que la mitsumata tenía su origen en el Himalaya. Así que se preguntó: ¿Por qué no trasplantarla? Tras años de ensayo y error, la empresa descubrió que el argeli, un pariente más resistente, ya crecía silvestre en Nepal. Sus agricultores solo necesitaban ayuda para cumplir las exigentes normas japonesas.

Una revolución silenciosa se puso en marcha después de que los terremotos devastaran gran parte de Nepal en 2015. Los japoneses enviaron especialistas a la capital, Katmandú, para ayudar a los agricultores nepalíes a tomarse en serio la fabricación de la materia prima del frío y duro yen.

Al poco tiempo, los instructores subieron al distrito de Ilam. En la lengua local limbu, “Il-am” significa “camino torcido”, y el camino hasta allí no defrauda. La carretera desde el aeropuerto más cercano es tan accidentada que el primer jeep debe cambiarse a mitad de camino por un todoterreno aún más accidentado.

Para entonces, Sherpa ya se había metido en el negocio y producía 1,2 toneladas de corteza aprovechable al año, cortando su propio argeli y cociéndolo en cajas de madera.

Los japoneses le enseñaron a cocer la corteza al vapor, utilizando fardos de plástico y tubos metálicos. A continuación viene un arduo proceso de descortezado, golpeado, estirado y secado. Los japoneses también enseñaron a sus proveedores nepalíes a recoger cada cosecha justo tres años después de plantarla, antes de que la corteza enrojezca.

Este año, Sherpa ha contratado a 60 nepalíes para que le ayuden a procesar su cosecha y espera obtener ocho millones de rupias nepalíes, o 60.000 dólares, de ganancia. (El ingreso medio anual en Nepal es de unos 1340 dólares, según el Banco Mundial). Sherpa espera producir 20 de las 140 toneladas que Nepal enviará a Japón.

Eso es la mayor parte de la mitsumata necesaria para imprimir yenes, suficiente para llenar unos siete contenedores de carga, que serpentean cuesta abajo hasta el puerto indio de Calcuta, para navegar 40 días hasta Osaka. Hari Gopal Shreshta, director general de la rama nepalí de Kanpou, supervisa este comercio, inspeccionando y comprando en Katmandú los fardos cuidadosamente atados.

“Como nepalí”, dice Shreshta, que habla japonés con fluidez, “me siento orgulloso de gestionar materias primas para imprimir la moneda de países ricos como Japón. Es un gran momento para mí”.

También es un momento importante para el yen. Cada 20 años, la tercera moneda más negociada del mundo se somete a un rediseño. Los billetes actuales se imprimieron por primera vez en 2004; sus sustitutos llegarán a los cajeros en julio.

Los japoneses adoran sus bellos billetes, con sus elegantes y sobrios diseños en muaré impresos en resistente fibra vegetal blanquecina en lugar de algodón o polímero.

El apego del país a la moneda fuerte lo convierte en un caso atípico en Asia oriental. Menos del 40 por ciento de los pagos en Japón se procesan con tarjetas, códigos o teléfonos. En Corea del Sur, la cifra ronda el 94 por ciento. Pero incluso para Japón, la vida funciona cada vez más sin efectivo; el valor de su moneda en circulación probablemente alcanzó su máximo en 2022.

El banco central de Japón asegura a todos los que tienen un yen que aún hay suficientes billetes físicos para todos. Si todos los billetes estuvieran apilados en un mismo lugar, alcanzarían una altura de unos 1850 kilómetros, es decir, 491 veces la altura del monte Fuji.

Antes de encontrar el comercio del yen, los granjeros nepalíes como Sherpa habían estado buscando formas de emigrar. Los jabalíes hambrientos de cosechas eran solo un problema. La falta de trabajos decentes era el verdadero asesino. Sherpa dijo que había estado dispuesto a vender su tierra en Ilam y trasladarse, tal vez para trabajar en el golfo Pérsico.

Hace años, Faud Bahadur Khadka, ahora un satisfecho agricultor argelino de 55 años, tuvo una amarga experiencia como trabajador en el Golfo. Fue a Bahréin en 2014, con la promesa de un empleo en una empresa de suministros, pero acabó trabajando de limpiador. Sin embargo, dos de sus hijos se fueron a trabajar a Qatar.

Khadka dice que se alegra de que “esta nueva agricultura haya ayudado de alguna manera a la gente a conseguir tanto dinero como empleo.” Y se muestra esperanzado: “Si otros países también utilizan los cultivos nepaleses para imprimir sus monedas”, dice, “eso detendrá el flujo de nepaleses que emigran a las naciones del Golfo y a la India.“

El cálido sentimiento es mutuo. Tadashi Matsubara, actual presidente de Kanpou, afirma: “Me encantaría que la gente supiera lo importantes que son los nepalíes y su mitsumata para la economía japonesa. Sinceramente, los nuevos billetes no habrían sido posibles sin ellos”.

Kiuko Notoya colaboró reportando desde Tokio.

Alex Travelli es corresponsal del Times en Nueva Delhi, donde se ocupa de asuntos económicos y empresariales en India y el resto del sur de Asia. Anteriormente trabajó como redactor y corresponsal para The Economist. Más de Alex Travelli

Jorge Glas, el exvicepresidente ecuatoriano detenido en la embajada de México, está en coma

Las autoridades encontraron al exvicepresidente ecuatoriano Jorge Glas en un “coma profundo autoinducido” el lunes en la cárcel, unos días después de que fuera detenido por la policía en una captura dramática dentro de la embajada de México en Quito.

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Glas ingirió antidepresivos y sedantes, según un informe policial, y estaba siendo trasladado a un hospital militar para su observación.

El exvicepresidente, que enfrenta una acusación de malversación de fondos en Ecuador, había buscado refugio en la embajada mexicana en un intento de evitar su detención. La semana pasada protagonizó un episodio de tensión diplomática cuando la policía entró en la embajada en Quito, lo detuvo y lo trasladó a un centro de detención.

Un tratado diplomático de 1961 determina que el gobierno del país anfitrión no puede ingresar a las embajadas extranjeras sin el permiso del jefe de la misión, una limitación que solo se ha transgredido en contadas ocasiones.

El nuevo presidente de Ecuador, Daniel Noboa, ha querido dar una imagen de firmeza frente a la delincuencia en medio de una creciente crisis de seguridad en la región, y ha defendido la decisión de detener a Glas, a quien califica de delincuente y no de preso político.

El lunes, cuando se conoció la noticia de la sobredosis de Glas, Noboa reiteró esta postura al afirmar que tenía la “obligación” de detener a personas como Glas o el país se enfrentaría al “riesgo inminente de su fuga”.

“Ecuador es un país de paz y de justicia”, continuó, “que respeta a todas las naciones y el derecho internacional”.

Los abogados de Glas, aliado del expresidente Rafael Correa, afirman que es objeto de una persecución política. Glas fue vicepresidente de Correa entre 2013 y 2017.

Thalíe Ponce colaboró con reportería desde Guayaquil, Ecuador, y Genevieve Glatsky desde Bogotá, Colombia.

Julie Turkewitz es jefa del buró de los Andes, ubicado en Bogotá, Colombia. Cubre Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador y Perú. Más de Julie Turkewitz

El Vaticano emite un documento que consterna a la comunidad LGBTQ

El Vaticano publicó el lunes un nuevo documento aprobado por el papa Francisco en el que se afirma que la Iglesia cree que las operaciones de cambio de sexo, la fluidez de género y la maternidad subrogada constituyen afrentas a la dignidad humana.

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El sexo con el que nace una persona, según el documento, es un “don irrevocable” de Dios “de ahí que toda operación de cambio de sexo, por regla general, corra el riesgo de atentar contra la dignidad única que la persona ha recibido desde el momento de la concepción”. Toda persona que desea “disponer de sí mismo, como prescribe la teoría de género”, corre el riesgo de ceder “a la vieja tentación de que el ser humano se convierta en Dios”.

El documento también declara inequívocamente la oposición de la Iglesia católica a la maternidad subrogada, tanto si la mujer que gesta un bebé “se ve obligada a ello o decide libremente someterse”, porque el niño “se convierte en un mero medio al servicio del beneficio o el deseo arbitrario de otros”.

El documento pretendía ser una amplia declaración de la visión de la Iglesia sobre la dignidad humana, que incluía la explotación de los pobres, los inmigrantes, las mujeres y las personas vulnerables. Aunque lleva cinco años elaborándose, llega pocos meses después de que el papa Francisco disgustara a los sectores más conservadores de su Iglesia al permitir explícitamente que los católicos LGBTQ recibieran bendiciones de los sacerdotes y que las personas transgénero fueran bautizadas y actuaran como padrinos.

Si bien las enseñanzas de la Iglesia sobre temas de la guerra cultural, que Francisco ha evitado en gran medida, no son necesariamente nuevas, ahora era probable que su consolidación fuera abrazada por los conservadores por su línea dura contra las ideas liberales sobre el género y la maternidad subrogada.

También es probable que el documento cause profunda consternación entre los defensores de los derechos LGBTQ en la Iglesia, que temen que el documento será utilizado como un garrote para condenar a las personas transgénero, a pesar de que también advirtió de la “discriminación injusta”, especialmente en los países donde son criminalizadas y encarceladas y en algunos casos condenadas a muerte o se enfrentan y la agresión o la violencia.

“El Vaticano vuelve a apoyar y propagar ideas que conducen a un daño físico real a las personas transgénero, no binarias y otras personas LGBTQ+”, afirmó Francis DeBernardo, director ejecutivo de New Ways Ministry, un grupo con sede en Maryland que defiende a los católicos homosexuales. Añadió que la defensa de la dignidad humana por parte del Vaticano excluía “al segmento de la población humana que es transgénero, no binario o de género no conforme”.

DeBernardo dijo que el documento presentaba una teología obsoleta basada solo en la apariencia física y era ciega a “la creciente realidad de que el género de una persona incluye los aspectos psicológicos, sociales y espirituales naturalmente presentes en sus vidas”.

El documento, afirmó, mostraba una “asombrosa falta de conocimiento de la vida real de las personas transgénero y no binarias” y que sus autores ignoraban a las personas transgénero que compartían sus experiencias con la Iglesia y las tachaban “displicente” e incorrectamente de fenómeno puramente occidental.

Aunque el documento representa un claro revés para las personas LGBTQ y quienes las apoyan, el Vaticano se esforzó por encontrar un equilibrio entre la protección de la dignidad humana personal y la exposición clara de las enseñanzas de la Iglesia, lo que refleja la cuerda floja por la que Francisco ha intentado caminar en sus más de 11 años como papa.

Francisco ha convertido en una seña de identidad de su papado el reunirse con católicos homosexuales y transgénero, y ha hecho suya la misión de transmitir un mensaje a favor de una Iglesia más abierta y menos prejuiciosa. Pero se ha negado a ceder en lo que respecta a las normas y la doctrina de la Iglesia que muchos católicos homosexuales y transgénero consideran que les han alienado, lo que revela los límites de su campaña en favor de la inclusividad. La Iglesia enseña que “los actos homosexuales son intrínsecamente desordenados”.

El Vaticano reconoció que estaba tocando temas candentes, pero afirmó que, en una época de gran agitación en torno a estas cuestiones, era esencial, y esperaba beneficioso, que la Iglesia reafirmara sus enseñanzas sobre la centralidad de la dignidad humana.

El cardenal Víctor Manuel Fernández, que dirige el Dicasterio para la Doctrina de la Fe, escribió que algunos temas “serán fácilmente compartidos por distintos sectores de nuestras sociedades, otros no tanto”, en la introducción del documento, “Declaración Dignitas infinita sobre la dignidad humana”, que, según dijo el lunes, era de gran importancia doctrinal, a diferencia de la reciente declaración que permitía las bendiciones para los católicos del mismo sexo, y pretendía aportar claridad.

“Sin embargo, todos nos parecen necesarios”, escribió, “para que, en medio de tantas preocupaciones y angustias, no perdamos el rumbo y nos expongamos a sufrimientos más lacerantes y profundos”.

Aunque receptivo a los seguidores homosexuales y transgénero, el papa también ha expresado constantemente su preocupación por lo que él llama “colonización ideológica”, la noción de que las naciones ricas imponen arrogantemente puntos de vista ―ya sea sobre el género o la maternidad subrogada― a personas y tradiciones religiosas que no están necesariamente de acuerdo con ellos. El documento dice que en esa visión “ocupa un lugar central la teoría de género” y que su “consistencia científica se debate mucho en la comunidad de expertos”.

Utilizando el lenguaje “por un lado” y “por otro lado”, la oficina vaticana para la enseñanza y la doctrina escribe que “hay que denunciar como contrario a la dignidad humana que en algunos lugares se encarcele, torture e incluso prive del bien de la vida a no pocas personas, únicamente por su orientación sexual”.

“Al mismo tiempo”, continuaba, “la Iglesia destaca los decisivos elementos críticos presentes en la teoría de género”.

En su introducción, Fernández describió el largo proceso de redacción de un documento sobre la dignidad humana, que comenzó en marzo de 2019, para tener en cuenta los ”últimos desarrollos del tema en el ámbito académico y sus comprensiones ambivalentes en el contexto actual”.

En 2023, Francisco devolvió el documento con instrucciones para “destacar temas estrechamente relacionados con el tema de la dignidad, como la pobreza, la situación de los migrantes, la violencia contra las mujeres, la trata de personas, la guerra y otros temas”. Francisco firmó el documento el 25 de marzo.

El largo camino, escribió el cardenal Fernández, refleja un “considerable proceso de maduración”.

Jason Horowitz es el jefe del buró en Roma; cubre Italia, Grecia y otros sitios del sur de Europa. Más de Jason Horowitz

Elisabetta Povoledo es una reportera afincada en Roma que lleva más de tres décadas escribiendo sobre Italia. Más de Elisabetta Povoledo