The New York Times 2024-05-15 10:11:28

Middle East Crisis: U.N. Lowers Count of Women and Children Killed, Citing Incomplete Information

How many of Gaza’s dead are women and children? For 10,000, the data is incomplete.

The United Nations has begun citing a much lower death toll for women and children in Gaza, acknowledging that it has incomplete information about many of the people killed during Israel’s military offensive in the territory.

As recently as May 6, the U.N’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its regularly updated online report that at least 9,500 women and 14,500 children were among the dead, out of an overall death toll of 34,735.

Two days later, the U.N. said in another online update that 4,959 women, 7,797 children and 10,006 men had been killed. While the total number of deaths remained roughly the same, a U.N. official said that it was awaiting more identifying information from officials in Gaza for about 10,000 of the dead, so they were not included in the new breakdown of women, men and children.

The change in the U.N.’s numbers — and the confusion over the discrepancy — has added fuel to a debate over the credibility of the Gazan authorities’ tallies of fatalities in the war. The deaths of women and children are seen as an important, if incomplete, indication of how many civilians have been killed, a question that lies at the heart of the criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war.

The change came because the United Nations switched to citing a more conservative source for its numbers — the Gazan Ministry of Health — rather than using Gaza’s Government Media Office, as it had in recent weeks. Both offices are part of the Hamas-run government in the enclave.

Many international officials and experts familiar with the way the health ministry verifies deaths in Gaza — drawing from morgues and hospitals across the territory — say its numbers are generally reliable.

The health ministry says its count of women and children killed is based on the total number of people whose identities it can fully verify — 24,840 individuals in all as of May 13.

More than 10,000 other people have also been killed, the health ministry says, but it does not have their full names, official ID numbers or other information it needs to be certain of their identities. That is why they are not included in the breakdown of women and children killed that is now being cited by the U.N., officials said.

“There’s about another 10,000-plus bodies who still have to be fully identified,” Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the U.N., said on Monday. He added: “The details of those — which of those are children, which of those are women — that will be reestablished once the full identification process is complete.”

Mr. Haq said the United Nations was relying on the data coming out of the health ministry, as it has “in all previous conflicts.”

He added that the U.N. had started using figures from Gaza’s media office because there had been a pause in reporting from the health ministry. But now that the ministry’s casualty reporting was back on line, he said, the U.N. had returned to using its information.

What do Israel and other critics say?

Israeli officials say they are suspicious of the Gazan health ministry’s count. A spokesman for the Israeli military, Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani, noted that the health ministry does not distinguish in its numbers between combatants and civilians. He also said that Israel sees every civilian death as a tragedy.

After the United Nations issued a lower documented death toll for women and children, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, called the new numbers “the miraculous resurrection of the dead in Gaza,” saying the United Nations had relied on “fake data from a terrorist organization.”

Elliott Abrams, a veteran American conservative, said in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations on Sunday that it has become “increasingly clear that these numbers represent Hamas propaganda.”

But figures cited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel are not drastically different from those used by the United Nations. He said last week that Israeli forces had killed about 14,000 Hamas combatants and 16,000 civilians, for a total of around 30,000, without elaborating on the source for those numbers.

Are the new casualty numbers viewed as credible?

In a sign that the U.S. government views casualty figures supplied by the Gaza health authorities as reliable, President Biden cited their overall death toll in his State of the Union speech in March. The United Nations publishes the health ministry’s figures on a website and U.N. leaders refer to them frequently.

A few weeks ago, the health ministry released its latest list detailing the identities of the dead that it had fully documented. It has also released a series of detailed reports explaining how it compiles casualty figures.

Early in the war, when its figures were called into question, the health ministry released a list of names, ages and identification numbers of the dead. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed that data, in a report published in November in The Lancet, and found “no obvious reason to doubt the validity of the data.”

Airwars, a British organization that assesses claims of civilian harm in conflicts, has matched the names of those reported killed with lists of names released by the health ministry. The vast majority of names match up, said Emily Tripp, the group’s director. Airwars also analyzed a ministry of health list of names issued earlier in the conflict and found that the proportion of children, women and men reported by the ministry roughly aligned with its own data collection, she said.

Neta Crawford, a professor of political science at Oxford University and the founder of the Costs of War project, which examines the consequences of the post 9/11 wars, argued that the figures appeared to have been produced to professional standards.

How are casualty numbers compiled?

International experts who have worked with health officials in Gaza during this and other wars say that hospitals and morgues in the enclave gather and report the names, ID numbers and other details of people who have been killed in the territory.

The detailed count excludes thousands of people reported at hospitals as missing but believed to be buried under rubble; they are counted as dead only when their bodies are found.

The Gaza media office has consistently provided an overall death toll similar to the one given by the ministry of health, but different and often higher figures for the number of women and children killed.

Ismail Al Thawabateh, the office’s director general, said in an interview that the health ministry listed and categorized an individual as dead only when all of their details had been documented and verified by a next of kin. He did not explain why his office used a breakdown of women and children based on the overall death toll.

“The remaining 10,000 are bodies that have entered the hospitals but until this moment, the next of kin have not been reached yet to verify how they were martyred and completing their information,” he said.

When reached, Ashraf al-Qudra, the Gaza health ministry’s spokesman referred questions to the Ministry of Health’s latest report from May 13.

Patrick Kingsley and Ameera Harouda contributed reporting.

Key Developments

Qatar says cease-fire talks are nearing an impasse, and other news.

  • Negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza are at “almost a stalemate,” and the talks have been set back by Israel’s military offensive in Rafah, Qatar’s prime minister said Tuesday. The prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, was asked about the state of the talks at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha. Qatar and Egypt have been acting as intermediaries between Israel and Hamas.

  • The International Court of Justice said it would hold hearings on Thursday and Friday on South Africa’s request for additional emergency measures to constrain Israel’s operation in Rafah. Last week, South Africa, which has filed a case at the court in The Hague accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, asked the judges to order Israel to withdraw from Rafah, calling it “the last refuge” for Palestinians in the territory. Israel has strongly denied South Africa’s accusations at the court, which has no means of enforcing its orders.

  • The United Nations said on Tuesday that gunfire that hit the back of a U.N.-marked car in Rafah on Monday and killed a U.N. staff member came from a tank. A U.N. spokesman, Farhan Haq, said that the United Nations has yet to determine who was responsible, though he added that the Israeli military is the only force known to have deployed tanks in Gaza. The staff member who was killed was Col. Waibhav Anil Kale, an Indian citizen who worked for the U.N. Department of Safety and Security, Mr. Haq said. A Jordanian woman who worked for the same agency was wounded and is recovering in a hospital, he said.

  • Thousands of Israelis attended a far-right Independence Day march on Tuesday in the southern city of Sderot, where Israeli lawmakers, including the country’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and the country’s communications minister, Shlomo Karhi, called for the resettlement of Gaza by Israelis.

  • Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, said attacks on aid trucks bound for Gaza were “appalling” and called for Israel to hold perpetrators to account. His statement on social media Tuesday came a day after a convoy of relief trucks was blocked and vandalized for hours, according to a right-wing Israeli group that planned the blockage. The Israeli police said that suspects had been arrested and that they were investigating.

Israel strikes on a home and a school building kill dozens of people, as fighting rages across Gaza.

Israeli airstrikes overnight killed dozens of people at a family home and a school in the central Gaza Strip, local residents and a hospital spokesman said on Tuesday, as fighting intensified across the territory, with Israeli troops and Hamas fighters battling in the south, while Israeli jets and tanks pounded the north and center.

Witnesses said an Israeli bomb on Monday night destroyed the home of the Karaja family in the town of Nuseirat, where workers spent hours digging through rubble, pulling out both survivors and the dead. Dr. Khalil Degran, a spokesman for Aqsa hospital in nearby Deir al-Balah, said in an interview that 30 people were killed at the house; a rescue worker, Hazem Abu Takyia, told the Reuters news agency that he knew of 15 deaths.

The Israeli military declined to comment on that attack, but confirmed that it had struck a school building early Tuesday in Nuseirat, killing 15 militants, including 10 Hamas fighters, some of whom it accused of participating in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on southern Israel that ignited the war. In a statement, the military said the school had been used to plan attacks on Israeli soldiers in Gaza, and that some of those killed in the strike were from Hamas’s highly trained Nukhba brigade.

Juliette Touma, a spokeswoman for UNRWA, the primary U.N. aid agency in Gaza, said it could not confirm Israel’s claims.

Dr. Degran, the Aqsa hospital spokesman, said that 12 people were killed at the school and that he did not know their backgrounds.

Reuters and The Associated Press reported that the building, like many of Gaza’s schools, was being used as a shelter for displaced civilians.

In a video report on Tuesday, a U.N. employee, Abu Abdullah Zuhair Abu Rahma, told Reuters that people “came to the school to be safe.”

“The school was hit without any warning,” he said.

Classes were canceled across Gaza when the war broke out, and many schools became shelters for displaced Gazans fleeing from the fighting. A recent study by the Education Cluster, a research group that works with the United Nations, based on satellite imagery, found that well over 80 percent of the schools across the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or severely damaged since the war began, including all of its universities. More than 200 schools have suffered direct hits from missiles, bombs or artillery.

Last November, an Israeli strike on a U.N. school sheltering displaced people killed 24.

Over the weekend, Israel said its forces would return to areas of northern Gaza where it had routed Hamas months ago, because of “intelligence information regarding attempts by Hamas to reassemble.” The scale of the fighting on Tuesday suggests how far those efforts to regroup may have gone.

The Israeli military said its troops were carrying out operations in Jabaliya and Zeitoun in the north, both communities where Israel had claimed to have defeated Hamas earlier in the war.

The Gaza health ministry said on Tuesday that 82 people had been killed in the previous 24 hours.

Fighting also continued in Rafah, a southern city that Israeli forces entered last week, and where more than one million Palestinians had sought safety from months of Israeli bombardment in other parts of the enclave. The United Nations said Tuesday that in a little over a week, about 450,000 people had fled Rafah.

Israel said its forces killed members of “several armed terrorist cells in close-quarters encounters” near the Rafah crossing with Egypt, a vital entry point for humanitarian aid, which has been closed since Israeli forces seized control of it last week. Israeli and Egyptian officials have blamed each other for the closure.

On Tuesday, Hamas said it destroyed an Israeli troop carrier in eastern Rafah, killing and injuring several soldiers who were evacuated by helicopter. The Israeli military declined to comment specifically on this attack.

Putin Will Visit Xi, Testing a ‘No Limits’ Partnership

When China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, hosts President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in China this week, it will be more than two years since the two autocratic leaders declared a “no limits” partnership to push back against what they consider American bullying and interference.

Growing challenges from the West have tested the limits of that partnership.

Mr. Xi is walking a narrowing tightrope, coming under increasing diplomatic and economic pressure to curtail Chinese support for Russia and its war in Ukraine. A tighter embrace of Mr. Putin now could further alienate Europe, a key trading partner, as Beijing seeks to improve its image in the West, and retain access for Chinese exports to help revitalize its sluggish economy.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

The Other Busing Program: Mexico Is Pushing Migrants Back South

Simon Romero and

Simon Romero reported from Villahermosa, Mexico, and Paulina Villegas from Mexico City.

Leer en español

The buses rumble into town day and night, dumping migrants in a city many didn’t even know existed.

But instead of landing closer to the U.S. border, they are being hauled roughly 1,000 miles in the opposite direction — deep into southern Mexico in a shadowy program meant to appease the Biden administration and ship migrants far from the United States.

Mexican authorities rarely publicly acknowledge the busing program, making it much less contentious than the efforts by Republican governors to transport migrants to blue states that have become political theater in the United States.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Russia Detains Senior General, Widening Military Purge

Russian security agents detained a senior general early Tuesday, widening a purge of the country’s sprawling Defense Ministry amid President Vladimir V. Putin’s broader shake-up of his government.

Lt. Gen. Yuri Kuznetsov, who oversaw the ministry’s personnel department, was detained on an accusation of “large-scale” bribery, Russia’s Investigative Committee, a federal law enforcement agency, said in a statement on Tuesday.

His detention came after Mr. Putin unexpectedly removed his long-serving defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, from his post and replaced him with a member of his economic team.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Roman Polanski Did Not Defame British Actress, French Court Rules

A court in Paris ruled on Tuesday that the film director Roman Polanski did not defame Charlotte Lewis, a British actress who has accused him of raping her, by asserting in a 2019 interview that she was a liar.

Delphine Meillet, one of Mr. Polanski’s lawyers, told reporters after the ruling that it was “an extremely important day for the rights” of the director, who is 90. “The question the court was addressing was whether you can defend yourself publicly when you are publicly accused,” Ms. Meillet said. “The answer is yes.”

Ms. Lewis, 56, has accused Mr. Polanski of raping her four decades ago, when she was 16, during a casting session at his home in Paris.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

German Court Fines Far-Right Leader for Using Nazi Phrase

A German court on Tuesday found a prominent far-right politician from the Alternative for Germany party guilty of using a banned Nazi slogan during a campaign speech in 2021.

A panel of four judges fined the politician, Björn Höcke, head of the AfD in the eastern state of Thuringia, 13,000 euros, roughly $14,000.

The trial, which Mr. Höcke’s defense tried to portray as a battle for free political speech, was watched closely because the AfD stands to make significant electoral gains in state elections this year and because of Mr. Höcke’s well-documented extremist views.

Mr. Höcke seemed to deflate when he heard the verdict.

During the trial, which began last month in the city of Halle, Mr. Höcke admitted to using the phrase “Everything for Germany” but claimed that he had not known about its Nazi origin and compared it to the American slogan “America first.”

But the fact that Mr. Höcke was previously a high school history teacher and that his party has repeatedly run into legal trouble for using the exact same phrase undermined his argument, leading to the court’s ruling.

Using Nazi phrases, gestures, symbols or uniforms is against the law in Germany and is punishable by up to three years in prison. The slogan was used by the S.A. Stormtroopers, the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, which engraved it on their standard-issue knives.

The prosecution argued that Mr. Höcke’s use of the term was part of a strategy of introducing ever more extreme language into the national discourse.

Johannes Hillje, who studies communication of populist parties, says the phrase is especially well suited for changing the acceptability of extremist language because, stripped of historical context, it seems perfectly harmless.

“It’s important that the court confirmed legal limits in the face of Björn Höcke’s strategy of shifting the discourse,” said Mr. Hillje after the verdict was announced.

The verdict comes months before an election for the Thuringian legislature that could, for the first time since the end of the Nazi regime in 1945, put a far-right party in control of a state government. As the party’s leader in that state, Mr. Höcke could become the equivalent of a state governor.

But despite its popularity with voters, the AfD is dealing with a number setbacks that began over revelations in January that party functionaries had participated in a secret meeting with other far-right activists to discuss deportations of non-Germans.

In a separate court decision on Monday, an administrative court in Münster, 200 miles to the west, dismissed a lawsuit brought by the AfD that sought to prohibit domestic intelligence from classifying the party as “suspected extremist.” The classification gives the intelligence agency, known by its German acronym BfV, special surveillance powers under German laws.

Last month, the police arrested an aide to Maximilian Krah, the party’s top candidate for the upcoming European Union parliamentary elections, on the suspicion that he worked as a Chinese intelligence agent. While Mr. Krah has distanced himself from the aide, the investigation into the affair is continuing.

On Tuesday evening, the judge in Mr. Höcke’s case, Jan Stengel, read the verdict after Mr. Höcke and his three defense lawyers delivered final statements. Mr. Höcke’s defense argued that the slogan was widely used and predated the Nazi era; it also argued that freedom of speech was more important than the prohibition of certain phrases.

Mr. Höcke directed an unusually passionate rebuke at the public prosecutor who had presented the case, saying he was hurt that the prosecution had not sought to dismiss the case after hearing his explanation.

“Do we want to ban the German language because the Nazis also spoke German?” said Mr. Höcke. “How far will this go?”

At one point in his speech, Judge Stengel interrupted Mr. Höcke to remind him that he was not holding a political rally.

In delivering its verdict, the court made clear that it did not agree with Mr. Höcke’s view of free speech, even if Judge Stengel said a prison sentence was disproportionate for someone who did not have a criminal record. The judge also said he believed Mr. Höcke had used the phrase on purpose.

“We have the feeling that the mantle of freedom of expression is being severely overused,” Judge Stengel said.

Mr. Höcke faces two other criminal cases over speech that are not yet scheduled. He has a week to appeal Tuesday’s verdict before it becomes binding.

Enjoy unlimited access to all of The Times.

6-month Welcome Offer
original price:   A$6.25sale price:   A$0.50/week

Learn more

U.K. Summons Chinese Ambassador for Reprimand as Tensions Rise

The day after U.K. police charged three men with assisting Hong Kong’s intelligence service, China’s ambassador to Britain was summoned for an official reprimand by the British foreign ministry in the latest sign of growing tension between London and Beijing.

The British government said that it had called the ambassador, Zheng Zeguang, to its Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office after the three men appeared in court on Monday.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that it had been “unequivocal in setting out that the recent pattern of behavior directed by China against the U.K.” was not acceptable. It cited cyberattacks, alleged espionage and the issuing of bounties for information leading to the prosecution of dissidents who fled Hong Kong after its crackdown on the pro-democracy movement and resettled in Britain.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

How One Crack in the Line Opened a Path for the Russians

Marc Santora and Tyler Hicks reported from Ukrainian villages west of Avdiivka.

The thunder of ferocious clashes unfolded at the nearby front line as the Ukrainian crew prepared to maneuver its American-made Bradley fighting vehicle out of camouflage and into the fire.

The commander of the team, a sergeant with the call sign Lawyer, nervously scanned the sky. “If we are seen, the KABs will come,” he said, referring to the one-ton bombs Russia has been using to target Ukraine’s most valuable armor and defenses.

What had started as a small Russian thrust into the tiny town of Ocheretyne was growing into a substantial breakthrough, threatening to unhinge the Ukrainian lines across a broad stretch of the eastern front. The crew’s mission was to help contain the breach: protect outmanned and outgunned infantry soldiers, evacuate the wounded and use the Bradley’s powerful 25-millimeter cannon against as many Russians as possible.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Kenya Rallies Police Officers Ahead of Haiti Deployment

Hundreds of Kenyan police officers have been training since late last year to embark on the deployment of a lifetime: helping lead a multinational force tasked with quelling gang-fueled lawlessness in Haiti.

The deployment has divided the East African nation from the onset. It touched off fierce debate in parliament and among officials in at least two ministries about whether Kenya should lead such a mission.

The courts also sought to block the deployment, while activists and human rights groups, citing a history of abuse and unlawful killings by the Kenyan police, roundly denounced it.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Anti-Monarchy Activist in Thailand Dies After Hunger Strike

To Netiporn Sanesangkhom, the right to dissent and to question Thailand’s powerful monarchy belonged to all Thais. On Tuesday, her crusade to highlight this cause in the face of the country’s strict ban on royal criticism ended in her death.

Ms. Netiporn, also known as Bung, 28, was one of Thailand’s most prominent activists calling for changes to the monarchy. She died after a hunger strike that she began in prison on Jan. 27 to pressure the Thai authorities to put an end to jailing political activists. On Jan. 26, Ms. Netiporn had been sentenced to one month in prison for contempt of court in connection with a protest last year in support of another activist convicted of defaming the monarchy.

For more than two months, Ms. Netiporn refused food, water and all forms of medication. On April 4, she resumed eating and drinking while in the hospital but still rejected electrolytes and vitamins, according to the Department of Corrections. On Tuesday, she went into cardiac arrest and died in the morning.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Acclaimed Iranian Film Director Flees Country After Jail Sentence

The celebrated Iranian film director Mohammad Rasoulof said he had fled the country to Europe, after a court sentenced him to eight years in prison for his movies.

Mr. Rasoulof — known for his award-winning film “There Is No Evil” — had been barred from leaving Iran in 2017 after his work criticized the authoritarian rule in the country. His lawyer, Babak Paknia, wrote last week on social media that an Iranian court had sentenced Mr. Rasoulof to imprisonment, whipping and a fine for movies that it called “examples of collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country’s security.”

On Monday, Mr. Rasoulof announced his escape from Iran in an Instagram post that featured a video of snow-capped mountains and said he had reached a “safe place.” He said in a separate statement that he had arrived in Europe “after a long and complicated journey.”

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

European Union 2024 Election: What to Know

  • Why does this election matter?

  • What does the E.U. Parliament do?

  • How does the E.U. vote?

  • Who is running and who is likely to win?

  • When will we find out the results?

  • Where can I find out more information?

Hundreds of millions of voters in all the 27 countries that make up the European Union are heading to polls between June 6 and 9 to choose their representatives in the European Parliament, the only directly elected institution of the alliance.

The European Union is one of the world’s most ambitious political experiments, but because of its complex governing structure, it has often been criticized for a lack of transparency and democratic accountability. The European Parliament election, which takes place every five years, is the only way in which E.U. citizens can have a direct say in shaping the bloc’s policies.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Curfew Imposed Amid Protests in Pacific Territory of New Caledonia

The authorities in New Caledonia, a semiautonomous French territory in the South Pacific, put a curfew in place on Tuesday and banned all public gatherings after protests over a proposed constitutional change turned violent overnight.

France’s High Commission of the Republic in New Caledonia said on Tuesday that a “massive mobilization” of security and defense forces had been sent to quell the protests. In addition, a curfew was imposed in the capital, Noumea, for Tuesday night, and all public gatherings were banned along with the sale of alcohol and the transportation of weapons, the High Commission said.

The international airport in Noumea shut down and canceled all commercial flights on Tuesday, and some consulates in the city shut their doors.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

14 Killed as Storm Topples Huge Billboard in India

Fourteen people were killed in a suburb of Mumbai, India’s financial capital, on Monday as strong winds from a storm caused the collapse of a huge billboard that officials said had been erected without permission.

At least 64 people were injured in the collapse, and rescue workers were searching for more survivors trapped under the debris on Tuesday morning.

Videos on social media showed the billboard shaking in the storm before falling on a gas station. An eyewitness, Sunil Gaikwad, said he and his wife had taken shelter with dozens of others in the gas station, on a busy road in the Ghatkopar area, when the rain and wind worsened.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Noisy, Gaudy and Spiritual: Young Pilgrims Embrace an Ancient Goddess

Chris Buckley and

Chris Buckley, Amy Chang Chien and Lam Yik Fei spent four days walking parts of two pilgrimages in central and southern Taiwan. On the journey, they interviewed around 20 pilgrims.


In a din of firecrackers, cymbals and horns, a team of devotees carried the shrouded wooden statue of a serene-faced woman, holding her aloft on a brightly decorated litter as they navigated through tens of thousands of onlookers.

As the carriers nudged forward, hundreds of people were lined up ahead of them, kneeling on the road and waiting for the moment when the statue would pass over their heads.

Some wept after it did; many smiled and snapped selfies. “I love Mazu, and Mazu loves me,” the crowd shouted.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

In Western Ukraine, a Community Wrestles With Patriotism or Survival

It was sunset when Maj. Kyrylo Vyshyvany of the Ukrainian Army stepped into the yard of his childhood home in Duliby, a village in western Ukraine, just after his younger brother, also a soldier, had been buried. Their mother was still crying in the living room.

“I can already see that she’ll be coming to visit him every day,” he said that day.

He was right, but he would not be by her side. A few days after the funeral, in March 2022, he was killed in a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian military base and buried next to his brother, Vasyl.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

A Gen Z Resistance, Cut Off From Data Plans

In the night, the mountain air not quite chill enough to still the insects, young people gathered around a glow. The light attracting them was not a phone screen, that electric lure for people almost everywhere, but a bonfire.

From around the blaze, music radiated. Fingers strummed a guitar. Voices layered lyrics about love, democracy and, most of all, revolution. Moths courted the flame, sparking when they veered too close, then swooning to their deaths.

For months now, these hills of Karenni State in eastern Myanmar have been severed from modern communications. The military junta that seized power in a coup three years ago, plunging the country into civil war, has cut off the populations most opposed to its brutal rule. In these resistance strongholds, where people from around the nation have congregated, there is almost no internet, cell service or even electricity.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

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.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

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.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

First, He Conquered Paris. Now, a Japanese Chef Wants to Become a Brand.

In cooking, timing is everything. So much so that if the chef Kei Kobayashi spots diners heading to the restroom as he sends a dish out from the kitchen, he stops them. Nature’s call can wait; his culinary offerings should be tasted at peak flavor.

Such imperiousness and exactitude align with what Mr. Kobayashi, the first Japanese chef to earn three Michelin stars for a restaurant in Paris, said he had learned from one of his earliest mentors in France: The chef is king.

“Unless you commit to your worldview to this extent, you won’t be able to be a chef,” Mr. Kobayashi, 46, said during a recent interview in Tokyo.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

After Her Sister Wed at 11, a Girl Began Fighting Child Marriage at 13

When they were children, Memory Banda and her younger sister were inseparable, just a year apart in age and often mistaken for twins. They shared not only clothes and shoes, but also many of the same dreams and aspirations.

Then, one afternoon in 2009, that close relationship shattered when Ms. Banda’s sister, at age 11, was forced to wed a man in his 30s who had impregnated her.

“She became a different person then,” Ms. Banda recalled. “We never played together anymore because she was now ‘older’ than me. I felt like I lost my best friend.”

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

A Portrait Artist Fit for a King (but Not a President)

Update: The portrait of King Charles III was unveiled on Tuesday.

Few famous Britons, it seems, can resist the chance to be painted by Jonathan Yeo. David Attenborough, the 97-year-old broadcasting legend, is among those who have recently climbed the spiral stairs to his snug studio, hidden at the end of a lane in West London, to pose for Mr. Yeo, one of Britain’s most recognized portrait artists.

Yet when it came to painting his latest portrait, of King Charles III, the artist had to go to the subject.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

A Novelist Who Finds Inspiration in Germany’s Tortured History

She became a writer because her country vanished overnight.

Jenny Erpenbeck, now 57, was 22 in 1989, when the Berlin Wall cracked by accident, then collapsed. She was having a “girls’ evening out,” she said, so she had no idea what had happened until the next morning. When a professor discussed it in class, she said, it became real to her.

The country she knew, the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, remains a crucial setting for most of her striking, precise fiction. Her work, which has grown in acuity and emotional power, combines the complications of German and Soviet history with the lives of her characters, including those of her own family members, whose experiences echo with the past like contrapuntal music.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Forbidden to Watch Films as a Child, He Now Directs Somalia’s Top Shows

At the shout of “action,” two actors, costumed in black blazers and sunglasses, erupted into a spirited shouting match, gesticulating wildly as one demanded that the other convince his daughter to marry him.

A cameraman and a boom operator, sweaty under a scorching sun, moved in to capture the altercation in close-up.

Then the director, Abshir Rageh, seated in a foldable chair, removed his headphones and called: “Cut.”

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

A Race the Whole World Is Watching

Taiwo Aina for The New York Times

The race to decide this year’s English soccer champion has captivated fans. But it’s not just an English story.

The Premier League is the world’s most global league, with a reach that carries its games, its teams and its stars to almost every country.

That means a sizable portion of the world’s population is deeply invested in its best title race in a decade.

And for lifelong fans in far-flung places, every moment matters.

A Race the Whole World Is Watching

Muktita SuhartonoElian PeltierShawna Richer and

Elian Peltier tracked Arsenal in West Africa, Muktita Suhartono watched Liverpool in Bangkok and Shawna Richer was with Manchester City fans in Toronto.

The teams might bear the names of English towns, the stadiums might sit on English soil and the stands might still be primarily filled with English fans, but the Premier League slipped its borders long ago. The world’s most popular sports league has, for some time, been a global soccer competition that just happens to be staged in England.

This season has crystallized that perfectly.

For the first time in a decade, three teams — Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City — remained in contention to win the championship as the season entered its final weeks. The fates of those teams have not simply had an impact on anxious, ardent fans in London, Liverpool or Manchester. Their results have been followed just as avidly in North America, Africa, Asia and countless other places, where fans rise early, stay up late and seek out any screen they can to follow their teams.

Last weekend, with the three contenders playing across two days, The New York Times asked reporters and photographers to track fans watching in Bangkok; Lagos, Nigeria; and Toronto. They delivered a snapshot of the true reach of a product that may be modern Britain’s greatest cultural export.

In the corner of the bar, Arthit Thepbanchornchai and Thanaporn Saneluksana had their eyes glued to the screen. Ordinarily, they would be surrounded by like-minded Liverpool fans — some Thai, some foreign — but tonight they were almost alone. Everyone else, it would seem, had given up hope.

Last week, a waiter explained, the place was packed. But two defeats in three games have all but ended Liverpool’s dreams of catching Arsenal and Manchester City. That the fans had not returned for Liverpool’s trip to West Ham indicated that the quest had been deemed, by common consensus, a lost cause.

Instead, it was just Mr. Arthit and Ms. Thanaporn, and a bottle of red wine on ice. The couple were so absorbed by the game that they barely touched the salad they had ordered. They declined to be interviewed until the match was over. “I have to concentrate,” Mr. Arthit said.

They had decided to watch the game here, they said later, not because their expectations were high but because it provided a convenient excuse for a date night.

“I am a Liverpool fan, and my girlfriend is a Liverpool fan,” Mr. Arthit, 40, said. Having a partner who supports the same team as him, he said, is an “extra bonus.” (Ms. Thanaporn, 27, made clear that “soccer dates” happen only when Liverpool is playing.)

Despite their distance from their club’s home, both said that they came to support Liverpool in exactly the same way that fans on Merseyside might: Their families left them no choice. A brother inculcated Mr. Arthit; Ms. Thanaporn’s passion was passed down by her father. The connection they feel to the club, too, is deep. Mr. Arthit has twice visited Anfield, the club’s stadium, to “see it with my own eyes.”

“Watching on television is different,” he said. “Being at Anfield, you feel it as a community. It is like a family gathered together. You don’t know each other, but you join together in supporting your team. It is more than a soccer game.”

Mayowa Adeshina should, really, be at work. It is the middle of Sunday afternoon, and he has not yet finished his shift at the barbershop. He is here, clad in a red-and-white Arsenal jersey, only by the good grace of his boss. Well, grace is one word. Resignation is another. “I took a break for the love of the game,” Mr. Adeshina said. “The manager knows this. He’s not new to the routine.”

Many West Africans live to the rhythm of European soccer, with mostly male crowds massing outside bars, hair salons, street restaurants — any establishment, ultimately, with a screen — to watch idols playing thousands of miles away. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris St.-Germain all have considerable followings in the region, but in Nigeria, nothing matches the appeal of the Premier League.

On game days, fans of all stripes flock to viewing centers — street venues equipped with a few screens, a jigsaw puzzle of wooden benches, a thicket of wires and a canopy to block out the sun and reduce the glare — like the one Mr. Adeshina and his friends descended on to take in his beloved Arsenal’s meeting with Tottenham Hotspur.

Mr. Adeshina became an Arsenal fan in the late 1990s, when Nigerian cable channels first began broadcasting the Premier League. His older brother instructed him on which team he should support, at a time when Nwankwo Kanu, one of Nigeria’s greatest stars, was a fixture in the team’s lineup.

If anything, though, Mr. Adeshina says his connection to the team is even deeper now. Arsenal’s academy is stacked with English prospects of Nigerian ancestry. One of the club’s brightest stars, Bukayo Saka, grew up in a Nigerian family in London. “He’s Yoruba, I’m Yoruba,” Mr. Adeshina said, in a tone rather softer than that with which he celebrated his idol’s first-half goal against Spurs.

The thrill of that moment did not last. Sitting in the front row with dozens of fans watching behind him, Mr. Adeshina spent the last few minutes of the game in agony as Spurs desperately chased a tying goal — one that would have driven a stake into Arsenal’s title hopes.

Arsenal narrowly held on. It remains at the top of the table. For now, at least. But Mr. Adeshina did not have too much time to celebrate. He quickly stood up, and rushed back to the barbershop. “If you can succeed in the Premier League, you can succeed in every league,” he said. “It’s the best soccer out there, no matter where you’re watching from.”

During the Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff run — a springtime tradition based on the scarcity principle — every saloon with a television becomes a Leafs Bar. But not Opera Bob’s Public House. As the home of the Manchester City Toronto Supporters Club, its regulars have only one concern this spring: manifesting a history-making fourth straight Premier League title.

So last Sunday morning, around 60 fans — men, women and a few children — settled into the small pub in the hour or so before their team took the field against Nottingham Forest. For the past 15 years, Opera Bob’s has opened for every City match, even when they start at 6 a.m. Eastern. Ritual is the order of every match day.

“Everyone knows where they go,” said Ross Simnor, who founded the club with a handful of other City obsessives in 2009, “because we have to win the game, and we’re superstitious. And if you are new, you’ll fit in somewhere.”

Membership is capped at 120 (bar capacity) and there is a wait list of sorts. They all remember a few years ago when the musician Noel Gallagher, of Oasis fame, came in for a match, and the day Mike Joyce, the former drummer of the Smiths, dropped by. A few former City players have wandered in over the years, and the Premier League trophy itself has graced the bar during one of its world tours.

Mr. Simnor grew up in Campbell River, British Columbia, before moving to Toronto to attend college. But his father is from Manchester, so he was “born into” his fandom. “I never had a choice in who I was going to support,” he said.

Through much of the 1980s and ’90s, he and other City supporters were accustomed to watching the team lose — a lot — while living in the long shadow of their fierce rival, and global glamour club, Manchester United.

City’s Toronto Supporters Club started with the bar and a couple of sky blue scarves and a few committed fans who somehow found each other. “We’d get two people, then four, then eight,” Mr. Simnor said. “Now it’s like a big family. It’s hugs all around. That’s why we really look at the membership.”

The vetting is more like a vibe check, to filter anyone wanting in for the wrong reasons, primarily that the supporters’ club has access to tickets through the team.

“The first 25 years of my life were miserable,” said Jason Nebelung, who grew up in Toronto, another City fan by blood. “Everyone at school was United, Arsenal or Liverpool, because anyone with no ties gravitates toward teams that are successful. There weren’t a lot of people that celebrated the things that I celebrated. I felt very alone until I stumbled upon this club.”

On Sunday, an anxious first half ended with City ahead, thanks to a goal from the defender Josko Gvardiol. Mr. Simnor duly erupted. The bar burst into song. Soon Erling Haaland, City’s Norwegian superstar, settled everyone’s nerves with a second goal.

City is a point behind Arsenal entering this week’s games but has an extra game to play. The title, for another weekend — and with the whole world watching — remains in its hands.

Taiwo Aina contributed reporting from Lagos, Nigeria.

Enjoy unlimited access to all of The Times.

6-month Welcome Offer
original price:   A$6.25sale price:   A$0.50/week

Learn more

This Town Had a Reputation Problem. Premier League Soccer Changed Things.

As the announcement trilled out over Kenilworth Road, the jumble of rusted metal and peeling paint that Luton Town F.C. calls home, the tone started to shift. At the start of the sentence, it was little more than the traditional polite welcome to the stadium for that evening’s visiting team, Manchester City.

By the end, though, the voice of the announcer seemed overcome by what sounded a little like awe. Luton, the fans in the stands and the players on the field were reminded, was about to face “the champions of the F.A. Cup, the champions of England and the champions of Europe.” Luton seems to be having a hard time believing the company it now keeps.

There is a reason for that. Fifteen years ago, Luton Town had been relegated to the fifth tier of English soccer, a world away from the power and the prestige of the Premier League. There was, for a time, a genuine risk that the club, founded in 1885, several years before the invention of the zipper, might fold altogether. For years afterward, money remained tight, ambitions modest.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Top Biden Official Calls for Inquiry Into Chinese Doping Case

The Biden administration’s top drug official called on Monday for an independent investigation into how Chinese and global antidoping authorities decided to clear 23 elite Chinese swimmers who tested positive for a banned drug months before the Summer Olympics in 2021.

The official, Rahul Gupta, who is the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that he planned to bring up the handling of the positive tests during a two-day meeting of sports ministers in Washington. Top members of the World Anti-Doping Agency are scheduled to attend the event, which starts Thursday.

“The United States stands by its commitment to ensure that every American athlete and those across the globe are provided a level playing field and a fair shot in international athletic competitions,” Dr. Gupta said in response to questions from The New York Times. “There must be rigorous, independent investigations to look into any incident of potential wrongdoing.”

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

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.

Subscribe to The Times to read as many articles as you like.

Cataluña votó por el socialismo en unos comicios dominados por la amnistía a los separatistas

El partido socialista, que gobierna en España, el domingo se alzó con la victoria en las elecciones regionales de Cataluña que son consideradas como una prueba de fuego para la polarizadora medida del presidente del Gobierno, Pedro Sánchez, de brindar amnistía a los separatistas.

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

Los socialistas celebran lo que consideran como una victoria trascendental, aunque no ganaron los escaños necesarios para gobernar en solitario. Lo más probable es que se enfrenten a semanas de negociaciones y, posiblemente, a la repetición de las elecciones si no se llega a un acuerdo. Pero, por primera vez en más de una década, podrían formar un gobierno regional dirigido por un partido que se opone a la independencia.

Salvador Illa, el líder catalán del partido, se dirigió a sus partidarios a última hora de la noche del domingo en la sede socialista de Barcelona donde declaró: “Tras 45 años de historia, por primera vez hemos ganado las elecciones al Parlamento de Cataluña en votos y en escaños. Los catalanes han decidido abrir una nueva época”.

Sin embargo, Illa, que ha prometido mejoras en los servicios sociales, la educación y la gestión de la sequía, necesitará 68 de los 135 escaños del Parlamento catalán para poder formar gobierno. El domingo, su partido solo obtuvo 42, lo que significa que tendrá que buscar el apoyo del partido independentista Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Izquierda Republicana de Cataluña) y de Comuns, un movimiento de izquierda.

“Ganar no significa gobernar”, dijo antes de que se dieran a conocer los resultados Toni Rodón, profesor de Ciencias políticas de la Universidad Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona. Rodón dijo que, aunque Esquerra ha apoyado a Sánchez en el Parlamento español, no se espera que las negociaciones en Cataluña sean fáciles.

El principal rival de los socialistas fue el partido independentista Junts per Catalunya (Juntos por Cataluña), liderado por Carles Puigdemont, quien hizo campaña desde el exilio en Francia. Junts quedó en segundo lugar, pero con 35 escaños no podría formar gobierno con otros partidos independentistas, que obtuvieron malos resultados.

El líder de Esquerra, Pere Aragonès, quien también es el presidente saliente del gobierno catalán, convocó las elecciones anticipadas tras no conseguir los apoyos suficientes para aprobar un presupuesto regional. Tras obtener solo 20 escaños el domingo, su partido se enfrenta ahora a un periodo de reflexión.

El domingo por la noche, Aragonés atribuyó los malos resultados de Esquerra a la política del partido de pactar con los socialistas que, según dijo, “no ha sido valorado por la ciudadanía”. A partir de ahora, “Esquerra estará en la oposición”, afirmó.

Fue una clara indicación de que no está dispuesto a negociar con Illa, y sin el apoyo de Esquerra, Cataluña podría estar “ante unas nuevas elecciones en octubre”, dijo Rodón.

Según Ignacio Lago, profesor de Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad Pompeu Fabra, aunque no se llegue a un acuerdo y haya que repetir las elecciones, “por primera vez en años, los partidos independentistas no tienen la mayoría.“

Durante años, el tema de la amnistía para los separatistas ha sido motivo de división.

Cuando Sánchez asumió por primera vez al poder en 2019, dijo que no abandonaría las acciones legales pendientes contra Puigdemont u otras figuras acusadas de actividad separatista.

Pero Sánchez dio marcha atrás después de las elecciones generales de España en julio pasado, cuando su única oportunidad para lograr un segundo mandato le exigía acceder a las demandas del partido de Puigdemont, que de la noche a la mañana había adquirido enorme influencia al ganar siete escaños parlamentarios. Sánchez, quien tiene fama de superviviente político, negoció un acuerdo de amnistía con Junts, calificándolo como la mejor manera de avanzar hacia la coexistencia pacífica en Cataluña.

La propuesta de amnistía fue muy impopular en España. Dos partidos rivales organizaron una inmensa manifestación contra el acuerdo el pasado noviembre en ciudades de todo el país, y otras protestas no apoyadas oficialmente por los partidos surgieron durante noches enteras ante la sede socialista en Madrid.

En un momento dado, una multitud hizo añicos una efigie de Sánchez con una larga nariz al estilo de Pinocho.

El proyecto de ley de amnistía se ha estancado en el Senado del Parlamento español tras haber sido aprobado por el Congreso de los Diputados en marzo. Las impugnaciones judiciales también podrían retrasar la medida.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, jefa del gobierno regional de Madrid y miembro del Partido Popular de centroderecha, ha calificado la amnistía como “la ley más corrupta de la historia de la democracia”.

Históricamente, el apoyo a la independencia de Cataluña no superaba el 20 por ciento, según un informe publicado por el Real Instituto Elcano, un grupo de investigación sobre asuntos internacionales con sede en Madrid. Eso cambió en 2010, después de que la crisis financiera en la eurozona y las políticas de austeridad impuestas a España por la Unión Europea alentaran “mensajes populistas de rebelión fiscal” en Cataluña, según el informe. La decisión del gobierno británico en 2012 de permitir un referendo independentista en Escocia dio impulso a los separatistas en España.

Las tensiones en Cataluña llegaron a un punto crítico en 2017, cuando el gobierno separatista liderado por Puigdemont ignoró a los tribunales españoles y siguió adelante con un referendo de independencia ilegal. Siguió una declaración de independencia, así como una ofensiva contra los separatistas por parte del gobierno español, que cesó a las autoridades regionales catalanas e impuso un control directo. Nueve líderes políticos fueron encarcelados por delitos como sedición, mientras que Puigdemont huyó a Francia, evitando por poco ser detenido.

Los sucesivos líderes españoles, incluido Sánchez en su primer mandato, han intentado y fracasado en su intento de extraditar a Puigdemont.

En 2021, el gobierno de Sánchez adoptó un enfoque más conciliador con los aliados de Puigdemont que aún siguen en España, indultando a los nueve presos.

La cuestión clave hoy, según Cristina Monge, profesora de Ciencias políticas y Sociología de la Universidad de Zaragoza, es si “el espíritu” del movimiento independentista catalán sigue vivo.

Los resultados electorales positivos para los socialistas en Cataluña el domingo sugerirían que la apuesta riesgosa del presidente del Gobierno de conceder la amnistía ha dado sus frutos, reduciendo las tensiones separatistas en la región y ayudando a normalizar las relaciones hispano-catalanas.

“Hemos pasado página del movimiento independentista de 2017”, dijo Lago.

Un estudio realizado por el Centro de Estudios de Opinión del Gobierno regional muestra que una proporción creciente de catalanes —el 51,1 por ciento en febrero, frente al 44,1 por ciento en marzo de 2019— apoya permanecer en España.

La independencia ya no es “una prioridad principal para muchos votantes”, dijo Rodón, y agregó que el cambio puede reflejar un desencanto general con los partidos independentistas en vez de un interés menguante en el separatismo.

¿Dónde posó la ‘Mona Lisa’? Tal vez en Lecco

Ha sido embadurnada con pastel y rociada con ácido. Vigilantes la han robado y manifestantes le han lanzado sopa. La han iluminado con láser y la han pinchado, la han exhibido para las masas y la han relegado a su propia galería en el sótano. Más recientemente, miles de personas han instado al multimillonario Jeff Bezos a comprarla y luego comérsela.

Parece que los misterios de la Mona Lisa —el cuadro de Leonardo da Vinci que ha cautivado durante siglos a los amantes del arte, a los buitres de la cultura y al resto de nosotros— no tienen fin. ¿Quién es? (Probablemente Lisa Gherardini, esposa de un noble italiano). ¿Está sonriendo? (La respuesta breve: más o menos.) ¿Pretendía Da Vinci originalmente pintarla de otro modo, con el pelo recogido o en una bata de enfermera?

Aunque muchas cosas sobre el asunto más enigmático del mundo del arte han quedado relegadas al reino de lo insondable, ahora, en un extraño cruce de arte y geología, puede que haya un misterio menos: dónde estaba cuando Da Vinci la pintó.

Según Ann Pizzorusso, geóloga y estudiosa del arte del Renacimiento, el personaje de Da Vinci posa en Lecco, Italia, una idílica ciudad a orillas del lago de Como. La conclusión, según Pizzorusso, es obvia; ella se dio cuenta hace años, pero nunca se percató de su importancia.

“Vi la topografía cercana a Lecco y me di cuenta de que era el lugar”, dijo.

El anodino fondo tiene algunas características importantes; entre ellas, un puente medieval que la mayoría de los estudiosos han considerado la clave del escenario de Da Vinci. Pero, según Pizzorusso, son más bien la forma del lago y la piedra caliza gris blanquecina las que delatan a Lecco como el hogar espiritual del cuadro.

“Un puente es fungible”, dijo Pizzorusso. “Hay que combinar el puente con un lugar en el que estuvo Leonardo y la geología”.

Esas características eran tan claras para Pizzorusso que hace años, en un viaje a Lecco, llegó a la conclusión de que el pintoresco pueblo a orillas de un lago era el escenario de la obra maestra de Da Vinci. Supuso que esos hechos eran evidentes, según digo. No fue hasta que un colega se dirigió a ella en busca de información sobre los posibles escenarios de la Mona Lisa cuando Pizzorusso se dio cuenta de que sus conclusiones tenían mérito académico.

“Se lo decía a la gente, pero nunca hice nada al respecto”, comentó. Ahora, sin embargo, la tecnología cartográfica ha hecho que su tesis sea más aceptable.

“Todo ha conspirado para que mi idea sea mucho más demostrable”, dijo desde Lecco, donde presentará formalmente sus conclusiones en un evento sobre geología.

Sin embargo, estos secretos son inherentes a la intriga que rodea al venerado lienzo. Durante siglos, la Mona Lisa ha confundido, deleitado, decepcionado y desconcertado a artistas y amantes del arte. A medida que sus famosos bordes suaves se vuelven existencialmente más afilados, quizá debamos preguntarnos: ¿Amamos al cuadro o a sus misterios?

“En Lecco llevan años hablando de esto”, dijo Donald Sassoon, profesor de Historia europea comparada. Señaló un artículo de 2016 en un sitio de noticias local italiano de un erudito de Lecco que identificó características geográficas similares a las señaladas por Pizzorusso.

“Yo no me molestaría”, en hacerlo dijo Sassoon cuando se le preguntó acerca de informar sobre el hallazgo de Pizzorusso. “Identificar la ubicación no tendría ninguna repercusión”.

Para Pizzorusso, sin embargo, la conclusión tiene menos que ver con el arte que con la humanidad. En las discretas pistas de la Mona Lisa, Da Vinci se revela no solo como un hábil pintor, dijo, sino también como un estudiante tediosamente cuidadoso de la ciencia y la geología.

“Cada vez que pinta una roca”, dijo Pizzorusso, “es preciso”.

Ali Watkins es reportera de la sección Metropolitana; cubre temas relacionados con la delincuencia y la aplicación de la ley en Nueva York. Antes fue reportera de seguridad nacional en el buró de Washington para el Times, BuzzFeed y McClatchy Newspapers. Más de Ali Watkins

Elecciones en Venezuela: estos son los escenarios de cara a las votaciones

Reportando desde Bogotá

Read in English

Lo que está en juego no podría ser más crucial.

Este julio, por primera vez en más de una década, los venezolanos votarán en unas elecciones presidenciales en las que participa un candidato de la oposición que tiene una oportunidad de ganar, por reducida e improbable que sea.

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

En medio de crisis económicas y democráticas que han ocasionado que más de siete millones de venezolanos abandonen el país en el que se considera uno de los mayores desplazamientos humanos del mundo, Nicolás Maduro, el presidente autoritario del país, ha hecho algo que pocos creyeron que haría: permitió que aparezca en la tarjeta electoral un candidato opositor que cuenta con un amplio apoyo.

Si bien es en gran medida un desconocido, el contendiente lidera en varias encuestas, lo que pone de relieve cuántos ciudadanos ansían un cambio.

No obstante, pocos se hacen ilusiones de que la elección será democrática o justa. E incluso si una mayoría de los electores vota en contra de Maduro, hay dudas generalizadas de que esté dispuesto a que los resultados se difundan, o incluso a aceptarlos si es así.

Venezuela se prepara para votar en un momento en que el país enfrenta asuntos importantes que tendrán impacto mucho más allá de sus fronteras.

Entre ellos están la supervisión del futuro de las vastas reservas petroleras nacionales, las mayores del mundo; el restablecimiento —o no— de las maltrechas relaciones con Estados Unidos; la decisión de permitir que Irán, China y Rusia sigan apoyándose en Venezuela como aliado clave en el hemisferio occidental y el manejo de la crisis humanitaria interna que ha llevado al país, que había sido una nación próspera, a un sufrimiento inmenso.

Una victoria de Maduro podría impulsar a Venezuela aún más a la órbita de los adversarios de Estados Unidos, intensificar la pobreza y la represión y ocasionar que un éxodo humano aún mayor se dirija al norte, a la frontera estadounidense, donde el aumento del flujo migratorio se ha convertido en tema central de las elecciones presidenciales de noviembre.

El candidato que se enfrenta al presidente de Venezuela es Edmundo González, un exdiplomático que sorpresivamente pasó a ser el candidato opositor luego de que María Corina Machado, popular líder de la oposición, fue inhabilitada por el gobierno de Maduro.

Sus seguidores esperan que ayude al país a superar 25 años de chavismo, el movimiento socialista que inició con las elecciones democráticas que llevaron a Hugo Chávez al poder en 1998 y que desde entonces se ha vuelto más autoritario.

Previo a la votación del 28 de julio, Maduro, de 61 años, controla la legislatura, el ejército, a la policía, el sistema de justicia, el consejo nacional de elecciones, el presupuesto nacional y gran parte de los medios, por no hablar de los grupos paramilitares violentos conocidos como colectivos.

González, de 74 años, y Machado, de 56, han dejado claro que son una fórmula. Machado ha estado animando a los votantes en eventos por todo el país, donde se le recibe como estrella de rock y llena cuadras enteras de ciudades en las que las personas le piden encarecidamente que salve a Venezuela. González ha hecho campaña más cerca de Caracas, donde sostiene reuniones y participa en entrevistas televisivas.

En una entrevista en conjunto, González dijo que le había tomado por sorpresa cuando Maduro le permitió registrarse como candidato y que aún no se explicaba el motivo.

Si bien Maduro ha llevado a cabo comicios en años recientes, una táctica clave ha sido la de inhabilitar a contendientes legítimos.

Las últimas elecciones presidenciales competitivas sucedieron en 2013, cuando Maduro derrotó por poco margen a Henrique Capriles, una figura conocida de la oposición. En la siguiente votación, en 2018, el gobierno evitó que líderes de la oposición populares se postularan, y Estados Unidos, la Unión Europea y decenas de países más se negaron a reconocer los resultados.

Pero en meses recientes, a decir de Machado, el país ha sido testigo de acontecimientos que pocos creyeron posibles: el gobierno de Maduro permitió que se realizara una elección primaria en la que hubo una enorme participación y Machado surgió como la clara vencedora; la oposición —conocida por sus luchas internas— logró unirse en torno a Machado; y, cuando ella no pudo competir, los líderes opositores coincidieron en apoyar a González como sustituto.

“Nunca en 25 años hemos pasado a un proceso electoral en una posición tan sólida”, dijo Machado.

(Ninguno de los dos quiso indicar si es que Machado desempeñaría un papel en un gobierno liderado por González ni, de ser así, en qué consistiría).

Tres encuestas realizadas en el país mostraron que una mayoría de los encuestados planeaban votar por González.

En decenas de entrevistas en distintos puntos del país en el mes de mayo, los votantes expresaron amplio apoyo a la oposición.

“Va a ganar”, dijo Elena Rodríguez, de 62 años, enfermera retirada en el estado de Sucre. Rodríguez dijo que 11 de sus familiares habían salido del país para escapar de la pobreza.

Maduro conserva cierto apoyo dentro de Venezuela y puede motivar a que la gente acuda a las urnas con la promesa de alimentos y otros incentivos.

Un seguidor de Maduro, Jesús Meza Díaz, de 59 años, dijo que votaría por el actual presidente porque confiaba en que llevaría al país a sortear dificultades económicas que atribuyó a las sanciones estadounidenses.

Pero tal vez la duda más importante no es si González logrará atraer suficientes votos para ganar, sino si Maduro está listo y dispuesto a ceder el poder.

El gobierno de Maduro ha sido afectado por las sanciones impuestas por EE. UU. a la industria del petróleo, clave en el país, y algunos analistas afirmaron que a González se le permitió contender solo porque podría ayudarle a persuadir a Washington a flexibilizar su postura.

“La negociación con Estados Unidos es lo que creo que está marcando la posibilidad de que en Venezuela haya un proceso electoral”, dijo Luz Mely Reyes, una destacada periodista venezolana.

Maduro apenas ha dado visos de estar listo para dejar el cargo. En febrero prometió a una gran muchedumbre de seguidores que ganaría las elecciones “por las buenas o por las malas”.

Desde enero, su gobierno ha detenido o encarcelado a 10 integrantes del equipo político de Machado. Otros cinco tienen órdenes de aprehensión vigentes y se encuentran en la embajada argentina en Caracas.

Avi Roa, esposa de Emill Brandt, un líder del partido de Machado que ha estado detenido desde marzo, calificó la captura de su esposo como “un terror de horribles”. Irama Macías, esposa de Luis Camacaro, esposa de un aliado de Machado que fue encarcelado, dijo que su detención era “una cosa muy cruel”, y que “no debería pasar en ninguna parte del mundo”.

Una propuesta en el legislativo, conocida como la Ley contra el Fascismo, podría permitir al gobierno suspender la campaña de González en cualquier momento, explicó Laura Dib, experta en Venezuela de la Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos. “Ese es un riesgo constante”, añadió.

Si Maduro en efecto cede el poder, sería casi con certeza como resultado de un acuerdo negociado de salida con la oposición.

Machado ha argumentado con frecuencia que su principal desafío es hacer ver a Maduro que mantenerse en el poder es insostenible: que su gobierno se está quedando sin dinero, que demasiados venezolanos desean su salida y que el chavismo se desmorona desde adentro.

“La mejor opción es una salida negociada”, dijo en la entrevista, “y entre más demore, peor va a ser”.

La situación económica es grave, gran parte de la base de Maduro se ha puesto en su contra y hay indicios de que Maduro teme una ruptura interna: hace poco encarceló por corrupción a un aliado de alto rango, el ministro del Petróleo, Tareck El Aissami.

La decisión fue considerada como una advertencia para quien pudiera desafiarlo desde su propio entorno.

Pero pocos consideran que Maduro sea suficientemente débil como para que se le obligue a marcharse. Y Maduro tiene un fuerte incentivo para resistir: él y otros funcionarios de su gobierno están siendo investigados por la Corte Internacional de Justicia por crímenes de lesa humanidad. También lo busca el gobierno de EE. UU., que ha ofrecido 15 millones de dólares cambio de información que resulte en su detención.

Si Maduro llegara a dejar la presidencia, es casi seguro que busque que se le blinde contra proceso judicial, algo que podría ser difícil de garantizar.

Aun así, en la entrevista conjunta, tanto Machado como González indicaron tener disposición a negociar una transición pacífica con el gobierno de Maduro previo a las elecciones.

“Estamos absolutamente dispuestos a seguir adelante para poner sobre la mesa todos los términos y garantías necesarias”, dijo Machado, “de tal forma que todas las partes sientan que se trata de un proceso justo”.

Un alto funcionario estadounidense dijo que no había indicios de que en este momento se estuvieran produciendo conversaciones sobre la salida de Maduro.

Pero, añadió el funcionario, el gobierno de Maduro seguía en comunicación con autoridades de EE. UU. y con la oposición, seña de que el presidente seguía en busca de legitimidad internacional y que se flexibilicen las sanciones. Eso podría hacerlo cambiar de postura, dijo el funcionario, brindando un atisbo de optimismo para el futuro del país.

Colaboraron con la reportería de Isayen Herrera en Caracas, Nayrobis Rodríguez en Cumaná, Venezuela, y Genevieve Glatsky en Bogotá.

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

En China, un país gobernado por hombres, las mujeres encuentran una voz poderosa

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

En bares escondidos en callejones, y en salones y librerías de Shanghái, las mujeres debaten su lugar en un país donde los hombres hacen las leyes.

Algunas llevaban vestidos de novia para comprometerse públicamente consigo mismas. Otras se reunieron para ver películas hechas por mujeres sobre mujeres. Las bibliófilas acudieron en masa a librerías femeninas para leer títulos como La mujer rota y Vivir una vida feminista.

Las mujeres de Shanghái, y de otras grandes ciudades chinas, están negociando los frágiles términos de la expresión pública en un momento políticamente precario. El Partido Comunista, que gobierna China, ha identificado el feminismo como una amenaza para su autoridad. Han encarcelado a activistas defensoras de los derechos de las mujeres. Las denuncias de acoso y violencia contra las mujeres son ignoradas o directamente silenciadas.

El líder chino, Xi Jinping, ha reducido el papel de la mujer en el trabajo y en los cargos públicos. No hay mujeres en el círculo íntimo de Xi ni en el politburó, el órgano ejecutivo de formulación de políticas. Ha invocado los roles más tradicionales de la mujer, como cuidadora y madre, en la planificación de una nueva “cultura de la maternidad” para hacer frente a la disminución de la población.

Sin embargo, varios grupos de mujeres de toda China reclaman en silencio su propia identidad. Muchas pertenecen a una generación que creció con más libertad que sus madres. Las mujeres de Shanghái, profundamente remecidas por un encierro de dos meses en 2022 debido a la pandemia de COVID-19, se sienten impulsadas por la necesidad de construir una comunidad.

“Creo que todos los que viven en esta ciudad parecen haber llegado a esta etapa en la que quieren explorar más sobre el poder de las mujeres”, dijo Du Wen, fundadora de Her, un bar que acoge debates de salón.

Frustrada por la visión cada vez más limitada que el público tiene de la mujer, Nong He, estudiante de cine y teatro, organizó una proyección de tres documentales sobre mujeres realizados por directoras chinas.

“Creo que deberíamos tener un espacio más amplio para que las mujeres puedan crear”, señaló. “Esperamos organizar un acto así para que la gente sepa cómo es nuestra vida, cómo es la vida de otras mujeres, y con esa comprensión podamos conectar y ayudarnos mutuamente”.

En estos eventos que se anuncian sin mucho ruido, las mujeres cuestionan las recurrentes metáforas misóginas de la cultura china. “¿Por qué los fantasmas solitarios son siempre femeninos?”, preguntó hace poco una mujer, refiriéndose a la representación que hace la literatura china de las mujeres sin hogar después de la muerte. Comparten consejos para iniciarse en el feminismo. Empecemos por la historia, dijo Tang Shuang, propietaria de Paper Moon, que vende libros de autoras. “Esto es como la base de la estructura”.

Hay pocas estadísticas confiables sobre la violencia de género y el acoso sexual en China, pero los incidentes de violencia contra las mujeres se han producido con mayor frecuencia, según investigadores y trabajadores sociales. Han circulado ampliamente por internet historias de mujeres mutiladas o asesinadas con brutalidad por intentar abandonar a sus maridos, o que son golpeadas salvajemente por resistirse a la atención no deseada de los hombres. El descubrimiento de una mujer encadenada dentro de una choza sin puerta en la provincia oriental de Jiangsu se convirtió en uno de los temas más debatidos en internet desde hace años.

En cada caso, las reacciones han sido muy divididas. Muchos denunciaron a los agresores y condenaron el sexismo en la sociedad. Muchos otros culparon a las víctimas.

La manera en que estos debates polarizan a la sociedad inquietó a Tang, empresaria y antigua subdirectora de Vogue China. Los acontecimientos de su propia vida también la inquietaron. Mientras sus amigas compartían sentimientos de vergüenza e inutilidad por no casarse, Tang buscó un contexto para articular lo que sentía.

“Entonces descubrí que ni siquiera yo tengo las ideas muy claras sobre estas cosas”, aseguró. “La gente tiene ganas de hablar, pero no sabe de qué está hablando”. Tang decidió abrir Paper Moon, una tienda para lectores intelectualmente curiosos como ella.

La librería está dividida en una sección académica que ofrece historia feminista y estudios sociales, así como literatura y poesía. También hay una zona para biografías. “Es necesario tener historias reales para empoderar a las mujeres”, dijo Tang.

La preocupación por atraer la atención equivocada siempre está presente.

Cuando Tang abrió su tienda, colocó un cartel en la puerta que la describía como una librería feminista que daba la bienvenida a todos los géneros, así como a las mascotas. “Pero mi amiga me advirtió que lo quitara porque, ya sabes, podría causar problemas el usar la palabra feminismo”.

Wang Xia, propietaria de la librería Xin Chao, ha optado por mantenerse totalmente alejada de la palabra que inicia con “F”. En su lugar, describió su librería como de “temática femenina”. Cuando abrió en 2020, la tienda era un espacio amplio con rincones para fomentar las conversaciones privadas y seis salas de estudio con nombres de autoras famosas, como Simone de Beauvoir.

Wang explicó que la librería Xin Chao atendía a más de 50.000 personas a través de eventos, talleres y conferencias en línea. Tenía más de 20.000 libros sobre arte, literatura y superación personal, libros sobre mujeres y libros para mujeres. La librería se hizo tan famosa que los medios de comunicación estatales escribieron sobre ella y el gobierno de Shanghái publicó el artículo en su sitio web.

Sin embargo, Wang tuvo cuidado de no hacer ninguna declaración política. “Mi ambición no es desarrollar el feminismo”, señaló.

Hace poco, Wang trasladó la librería Xin Chao a la Ciudad del Libro de Shanghái, una famosa tienda con grandes atrios y largas columnas de estanterías. Una colección de cuatro volúmenes de los escritos de Xi ocupa un lugar destacado en varios idiomas.

La Ciudad del Libro es enorme. El espacio para la librería Xin Chao no lo es, según Wang, con varias estanterías en el interior y alrededor de una pequeña sala que, con el tiempo, solo podrá albergar unos 3000 libros.

“Es una pequeña célula de la ciudad, una célula cultural”, comentó Wang.

Aun así, destaca en China.

“No todas las ciudades tienen una librería para mujeres”, dijo. “Hay muchas ciudades que no tienen ese tipo de terreno cultural”.

Li You colaboró con la reportería.

Alexandra Stevenson es la jefa del buró del Times de Shanghái, desde donde reporta sobre la economía y la sociedad de China. Más de Alexandra Stevenson

Las mujeres están logrando avances laborales lentos pero importantes en Japón

En 1987, cuando la futura emperatriz de Japón ingresó en el cuerpo diplomático de élite del país, un año después de que entró en vigor una importante ley de igualdad en el empleo, fue una de las tres únicas mujeres contratadas. Conocida en aquel entonces como Masako Owada, trabajó muchas horas y tuvo una carrera ascendente como negociadora comercial. Sin embargo, duró poco menos de seis años en el cargo, el cual dejó para casarse con el príncipe heredero —y actual emperador— Naruhito.

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

En las tres décadas transcurridas desde entonces, han cambiado muchas cosas para el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Japón y, de cierta manera, para las mujeres japonesas en general.

Desde el año 2020, las mujeres han conformado casi la mitad de cada nueva generación de diplomáticos y muchas continúan su carrera después de casarse. Estos avances, en un país donde en la década de 1980 las mujeres eran contratadas en su mayor parte solo para puestos de oficina, muestran cómo el simple poder de los números puede empezar, aunque sea poco a poco, a rehacer las culturas laborales y crear un canal para el liderazgo.

Durante años, Japón ha ascendido a las mujeres en el trabajo para auxiliar su tambaleante economía nacional. Los empleadores del sector privado han tomado algunas medidas, como animar a los empleados hombres a hacer más labores del hogar o poner límites a las salidas después del trabajo que puedan complicar el cuidado de los hijos. No obstante, muchas mujeres todavía tienen dificultades para equilibrar su carrera profesional con las obligaciones domésticas.

El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, el cual está a cargo de una mujer, Yoko Kamikawa, supera a otras agencias gubernamentales y a nombres corporativos reconocidos como Mitsubishi, Panasonic y SoftBank en una importante señal de progreso: la inserción de mujeres en puestos que ofrezcan crecimiento profesional.

Según la diplomática Kotono Hara, con más mujeres en las filas del ministerio, “la manera de trabajar está cambiando drásticamente”, con horarios más flexibles y la opción de trabajar a distancia.

Hara fue una de apenas seis mujeres que se sumaron al ministerio en 2005. El año pasado, fue la organizadora de una reunión de líderes mundiales de la que Japón, específicamente Hiroshima, fue sede.

En vísperas de la cumbre del Grupo de los Siete, Hara trabajaba en la oficina hasta las 6:30 p. m. y luego se iba a casa a alimentar y bañar a su hijo de edad preescolar, antes de ponerse en contacto con su equipo en línea más tarde por la noche. Al inicio de su carrera, asumió que un trabajo así no era el “tipo de puesto que realizaría una mamá”.

En 2021, el último año con estadísticas gubernamentales disponibles, las mujeres trabajadoras casadas con hijos se encargaban de más de tres cuartas partes de las labores domésticas. A esa carga se le suma el hecho de que los empleados japoneses, en promedio, trabajan casi 22 horas extra al mes, según una encuesta que realizó el año pasado Doda, un sitio web de búsqueda de empleo.

En muchas profesiones, la cantidad de horas adicionales es mucho mayor, una realidad que hace poco motivó al gobierno a limitar las horas extras a 45 horas al mes.

Antes de que entrara en vigor la Ley de Igualdad de Oportunidades en el Empleo en 1986, las mujeres eran contratadas sobre todo para trabajos de ochakumi o “servidoras de té”. Los empleadores casi no contrataban a mujeres para puestos que pudieran llevar a cargos ejecutivos, directivos o de ventas.

En la actualidad, Japón recurre a las mujeres para hacer frente a la grave escasez de trabajadores. Sin embargo, aunque más del 80 por ciento de las mujeres de entre 25 y 54 años trabajan, apenas representan poco más de una cuarta parte de los empleados permanentes de tiempo completo. Tan solo uno de cada ocho gerentes son mujeres, según datos del gobierno.

Según algunos ejecutivos, las mujeres simplemente deciden limitar sus carreras. Las japonesas “no son tan ambiciosas en comparación con las mujeres del mercado mundial”, opinó Tetsu Yamaguchi, director de recursos humanos globales de Fast Retailing, el gigante de la ropa que es dueño de Uniqlo. “Su prioridad es cuidar de sus hijos en vez de desarrollar su carrera profesional”.

A nivel mundial, el 45 por ciento de los gerentes de empresas son mujeres. En Japón, esa proporción es apenas superior a la cuarta parte.

Según expertos, es responsabilidad de los empleadores facilitar que las mujeres combinen el éxito profesional y la maternidad. Los obstáculos profesionales para las mujeres podrían perjudicar la economía a nivel general y, conforme disminuye la tasa de natalidad del país, las expectativas devastadoras en el trabajo y el hogar pueden desalentar a las mujeres ambiciosas de tener hijos.

En Sony, tan solo una de cada nueve de sus gerentes en Japón es mujer. La empresa está tomando medidas pequeñas para apoyar a las madres trabajadoras, como ofrecer cursos para futuros padres en los que se les enseña a los hombres a cambiar pañales y alimentar a los bebés.

Durante una clase reciente en la sede de la empresa en Tokio, Satoko Sasaki, de 35 años y con siete meses de embarazo, observó cómo su marido, Yudai, de 29 años e ingeniero de software de Sony, se amarraba una barriga prostética para simular las sensaciones físicas del embarazo.

Satoko Sasaki, quien trabaja como administradora en otra empresa de Tokio, comentó que le conmovía que el empleador de su marido intentara ayudar a los hombres a “comprender mi situación”.

Mencionó entre lágrimas que, en su propia empresa, “no tengo mucho apoyo” de sus colegas hombres en puestos directivos.

Takayuki Kosaka, el instructor del curso, mostró una gráfica en la que aparecía el tiempo que invertían una madre y un padre típicos en el hogar durante los primeros 100 días de vida de un bebé.

“¡El papá no hace nada!”, comentó Kosaka, mientras señalaba una barra azul que representaba el tiempo que trabajaba el padre, de 07:00 a. m. a 11:00 p. m. “Si regresa a casa a las 11 de la noche, ¿no significa que también se fue a beber?”, agregó.

Motoko Rich es reportera en Tokio y dirige la cobertura de Japón para el Times. Más de Motoko Rich

Hisako Ueno es reportera e investigadora en Tokio, escribe sobre política, negocios, género, trabajo y cultura en Japón. Más de Hisako Ueno

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *