The New York Times 2024-06-10 18:18:40


In E.U. Elections, the Center Holds, but the Far Right Still Wreaks Havoc

Casting ballots in 27 countries, voters largely backed centrists in European Parliament elections, but far-right parties made serious inroads in France and Germany.

Partial results made public late Sunday showed that centrist political groups were poised to lose some seats, but still maintain a clear majority of more than 400 seats in the 720-seat assembly.

Even so, the outcome seemed likely to steel the far right as a disruptive force and unsettled the bloc’s mainstream establishment.

European Union Parliament Election 2024: Live ResultsSee totals and national results from the 2024 E.U. parliament elections.

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Battered by Far Right in E.U. Vote, Macron Calls for New Elections in France

President Emmanuel Macron of France, battered by a crushing defeat from the extreme right in European elections, dissolved the lower house of Parliament on Sunday and called for legislative elections beginning on June 30.

His decision, announced in a television broadcast to the nation, was a measure of the tumult created by Mr. Macron’s severe defeat in elections to the European Parliament. Projections gave the National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen and her wildly popular protégé, Jordan Bardella, about 31.5 percent of the vote, and Mr. Macron’s Renaissance party about 15.2 percent.

“The rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our nation and for Europe,” Mr. Macron said. “After this day, I cannot go on as though nothing has happened.”

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Mexico’s Leftists Won Big. Investors Are Worried.

A final count of votes released over the weekend suggests Mexico’s leftist governing party and its allies would capture large majorities in Congress, potentially enabling the coalition to pass sweeping changes to the Constitution.

The official tally from elections last week showed that the party, Morena, and its partners appeared on their way to clinching a two-thirds supermajority in the lower house of Congress.

In the Senate, it seemed that the coalition would fall short of a supermajority — but by a small number of seats, analysts said, meaning it would likely need to attract the support of only a few opposition legislators to alter the Constitution. Building those alliances “is relatively easy to achieve,” said the party’s president, Mario Delgado, in an interview.

“We are now a dominant force,” Mr. Delgado added, “by the decision of the people.”

The final makeup of the legislature is still unclear because a share of seats in the Mexican Congress are appointed via a system of proportional representation in August. Legal challenges could also affect how seats are allocated.

But Morena has come close enough to total dominance to prompt a strong reaction from a sector that the party can’t ignore: the financial markets.

In the volatile days following the election, investors’ alarm has been on full display, with Mexican stocks battered and the peso suffering its worst week since the pandemic.

The concern centered on the possibility that Morena would use its broad mandate to enact constitutional changes that detractors warn could gut existing checks on presidential authority, financial analysts said.

The proposals were first introduced by Andrés Manuel López Obrador and include plans to eliminate independent regulators and to appoint judges and election officials via popular vote, which critics warn could make them more susceptible to political pressure. Among other concerns, investors fear that upending the judiciary could make it less certain that they’ll get a fair hearing in disputes.

“The feeling of the market is that under the Morena party and with this plan on the table, a radical change could be coming,” said Janneth Quiroz Zamora, director of economic research at the brokerage Monex. “The biggest fear is about the possible elimination of checks on executive power.”

In what seemed to be an attempt to calm the market, the incoming president, Claudia Sheinbaum, a protégée of Mr. López Obrador, announced last Monday that the current finance minister, Rogelio Ramírez de la O, who is seen as a stabilizing force, would stay in the job.

“He is a great public servant who provides certainty of good financial and economic management,” she said.

Ms. Sheinbaum won the presidency with the largest share of votes in decades and Morena also claimed most of the governorships on offer.

Her initial comments encouraged investors that “the government was sensitive to their concerns,” said Blanca Heredia, a political analyst based in Mexico City. That was “mostly because of the speed of the reaction,” Ms. Heredia said, noting that the new president “needs and wants economic growth.”

But then on Thursday, the leader of Morena in the lower house of Congress, Ignacio Mier, appeared to announce that the party would seek to approve the constitutional changes in September, before Mr. López Obrador steps down and Ms. Sheinbaum takes over.

The peso fell again. Hours later, Mr. Mier walked back his statement in a radio appearance in which he suggested that any changes wouldn’t be rushed through.

Ms. Sheinbaum later told reporters the measures would be subject to broad dialogue. She also posted a photo of herself meeting with an executive from the investment firm BlackRock. “They are committed and enthusiastic about increasing investment projects in Mexico,” she said on social media.

Mr. Delgado, the party president, said that Mr. López Obrador and Ms. Sheinbaum would need to agree on how to move forward with the plans.

“These are reforms that will need to be discussed and their reach, their final version, will come about in the Congress, and the pace of their approval will be decided by the president,” he said, referring to Ms. Sheinbaum.

The upshot, analysts said, is that in a political system where one party has so much control, the market could emerge as a moderating force.

“I do think this adverse reaction from the market is going to cause a very thorough rethinking of what they are going to approve and how they are going to approve it in September,” said Joan Domene, a Mexico City-based senior economist for Latin America at Oxford Economics, an economic consultancy.

Mr. López Obrador, though, seemed undeterred. At his regular news conference on Friday morning, the president reiterated his commitment to the changes and seemed to minimize the peso’s declines, saying, “justice is above the markets.”

The mixed messages showed, analysts said, that investors’ influence will depend on whether the people leading Morena — including Mr. López Obrador — actually listen to them.

“Markets are a straitjacket for politics,” Mr. Domene said. “But not for everyone equally.”

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega and Miriam Castillo contributed reporting.

Middle East Crisis: Benny Gantz Quits Israel’s Emergency Government in Dispute Over Gaza

Top News

Gantz had called on Netanyahu to provide answers about the war.

The Israeli politician Benny Gantz, a key member of the country’s war cabinet, quit the government on Sunday over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza.

The resignation dealt a blow to the appearance of unity that Mr. Netanyahu was able to marshal at the start of the conflict and exposed the divisions at the top of the Israeli leadership over the future of the war and its aftermath.

Mr. Gantz, a centrist figure who last month threatened to resign unless Mr. Netanyahu addressed his concerns about how the war would end and what would follow it, said his party was leaving the emergency government “with a heavy but complete heart.” He said that Mr. Netanyahu’s leadership was “preventing us from advancing to the real victory.”

The move is unlikely to force Mr. Netanyahu from office — the prime minister’s government will still hold a narrow majority in Israel’s Parliament. Mr. Gantz’s exit comes as frustration mounts over the failure to decisively topple Hamas or to bring home all the hostages held in Gaza after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on southern Israel. Mr. Netanyahu has also faced international criticism as the destruction and civilian casualties have mounted in Gaza.

Last month, Mr. Gantz set a Saturday deadline for Mr. Netanyahu to meet his demands for answers on a host of issues, including a plan to return hostages held in Gaza. He scheduled a news conference for Saturday, but postponed his remarks after Israeli authorities announced the rescue of four hostages.

In televised remarks on Sunday evening, Mr. Gantz offered his view of a “real victory,” saying it included prioritizing the return of hostages over one’s political survival — a clear jab at the prime minister. He also said it would combine “military success” with a diplomatic initiative, toppling Hamas and replacing it with an alternative government.

One of Mr. Gantz’s most prominent differences with Mr. Netanyahu has been over plans for the future governance of Gaza. Critics say Mr. Netanyahu has failed to articulate a coherent plan for how Gaza will be run after the war ends, and by whom. Mr. Gantz has called for the establishment of an administrative body overseeing civilian affairs, with the backing of Americans, Europeans, Arabs and Palestinians.

On Sunday, Mr. Gantz singled out Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Mr. Netanyahu’s party who has sometimes pushed back against the prime minister, for praise and called on him to not only “say the right thing, but to do what is right,” although his meaning was not immediately clear.

Mr. Netanyahu reacted to Mr. Gantz’s remarks by exhorting him to stay in the government.

“Israel is in an existential war on several fronts. Benny, this is not the time to abandon the campaign — this is the time to unite forces,” he wrote on X. “My door will remain open to any Zionist party willing to shoulder the gurney and help bringing about victory over our enemies and ensuring our citizens’ safety.”

Now that he has removed himself from the war cabinet, Mr. Gantz’s ability to exert influence over the war will be limited. But it allows him to cast himself as someone who stood up to Mr. Netanyahu ahead of any future elections. Critics, however, have said Mr. Gantz should have made this move months ago.

After the Hamas-led assault in October, Mr. Gantz’s party joined an emergency government in what was viewed as a demonstration of unity during a crisis. He and another member of his party, Gadi Eisenkot, joined the powerful war cabinet, a small body that has made crucial decisions about the conflict. (Mr. Eisenkot, who was a nonvoting member of the war cabinet, also resigned on Sunday.) Mr. Gantz’s experience as a former military chief of staff, former defense minister — and his status as a popular opposition figure seen as a potential future prime minister — added to the cabinet’s credibility.

But as the war dragged on, fissures between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz came into plain sight. Mr. Gantz demanded that the war cabinet approve a plan to bring hostages home, address the future governance of Gaza, return displaced Israelis to their homes and advance normalization with Saudi Arabia, among other issues.

“If you choose the path of zealots, dragging the country into the abyss, we will be forced to leave the government,” he said in a televised news conference on May 18.

Following the rescue on Saturday — and the delay of Mr. Gantz’s remarks — Mr. Netanyahu appeared to hold out some hope that Mr. Gantz would remain part of the emergency government. The return of the four hostages gave Israelis a moment of celebration, but only underscored the challenge of trying to free roughly 120 more through military action alone.

Mr. Netanyahu has rejected the Biden administration’s view that the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, should help run Gaza in some form — a position also held by Mr. Gantz. And he has not publicly embraced a cease-fire proposal endorsed by Mr. Biden, one that Israeli officials have said generally matched one greenlit by the war cabinet. (Hamas has not formally responded to the proposal, either.)

But Mr. Gantz has been among the most notable voices pushing for a deal to release hostages and achieve a cease-fire. His more moderate positions have helped boost the government’s international credibility. Without his party, the prime minister’s government will be made up of his right-wing Likud party, three far-right parties and two ultra-Orthodox factions.

Analysts have said Mr. Gantz’s departure could embolden far-right ministers in Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition, led by Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who have threatened to bring down the government if the prime minister moves forward with the latest cease-fire proposal. After Mr. Gantz’s announcement, Mr. Ben-Gvir, the national security minister, said on social media that he had written to Mr. Netanyahu demanding that he be added to the war cabinet.

Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, called Mr. Gantz’s decision “a risky move” that removed moderate voices from Mr. Netanyahu’s government.

“It strengthens the hand of the far-right. Within the war cabinet, it may weaken the chance of a deal” to free the hostages, he said. “Two important voices in favor of an agreement are now out.”

Aaron Boxerman and Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

Key Developments

The commander of the Israeli military’s Gaza division resigns, and other news.

  • Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld, the commander of the Israeli military’s Gaza division, resigned on Sunday over the Oct. 7 attacks, the military announced. Mr. Rosenfeld wrote in a resignation letter that he had “failed in his life’s mission” to defend the Israeli communities bordering Gaza.

  • Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said “it was a fair question” whether the rescue mission in Gaza would impede the effort to get Hamas to agree to a hostage-release and cease-fire plan that President Biden endorsed nine days ago. In a prerecorded interview that will air Sunday on CBS, Mr. Sullivan said he could not “put myself in the head of Hamas terrorists” but that “the whole world is looking to Hamas to say yes.” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will visit Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Qatar this week to press for a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas.

  • The U.S. military said on Saturday that aid deliveries to Gaza through a temporary pier had resumed. A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command said on Friday that the pier had been repaired, more than a week after it broke apart in high seas.

  • Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters in Washington converged around the White House on Saturday, urging President Biden to stop all military aid to Israel and calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

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Gazans recall ‘unimaginably intense’ Israeli bombing around the hostage raid.

A day after the Israeli military rescued four hostages held by Hamas militants in Nuseirat, Gazans described an intense bombardment during the raid, followed by chaos in the streets from an operation that killed and wounded scores of Palestinians.

Bayan Abu Amr, 32, was carrying her 18-month-old son Mohammad on the edge of Nuseirat’s main marketplace on Saturday when she was surrounded by the heavy booms of strikes from aircraft, which Israel’s military said targeted militants in an effort to ensure the safe extraction of the hostages and special forces.

“People were rushing like the day of judgment; I did not know where to run,” said Ms. Abu Amr, who was on her way to pay a condolence call to her uncle’s family after two of his sons had died. “Kids were screaming, women were falling down while running.”

Along with other Gazans, she managed to clamber onto a passing pickup truck that was trying to ferry people safely out amid the strikes, she recalled. One girl was separated from her mother in the confusion, while an old man lost his grip and fell off the truck onto the ground, she said.

Ms. Abu Amr finally arrived home with her son hours later, shocked that she was still alive. “I won’t take my son out of the house again,” she said.

To rescue the hostages, Israeli troops entered two residential buildings in which they were being held, according to Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman. Admiral Hagari said there were families living in the apartments, as well as armed Hamas militants guarding the hostages, making it “impossible to reach them without harming the civilians of Gaza.”

The precise death toll remained unclear as health officials sought to gather statistics amid chaotic scenes at hospitals. Gazan health officials reported that more than 200 people were killed in the raid; the Israeli military said it was aware of fewer than 100 casualties, without specifying whether these were dead or wounded or both. Neither side provided a breakdown of combatants versus civilians.

On Sunday, the corridors and hallways of the last major medical center in central Gaza, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, remained “densely crowded” with new patients, after more than 100 dead bodies had been brought there on Saturday, said Khalil Daqran, a hospital official. Most of the bodies had since been buried or claimed by relatives, he added.

The medical facility — already packed before the Israeli rescue mission in nearby Nuseirat — overflowed, said Abdelkarim al-Harazin, 28, a physician working there.

“The bombing was unimaginably intense,” said Dr. al-Harazin. “The whole hospital became one giant emergency room, even as people came looking for their dead relatives.”

When Al-Aqsa became overwhelmed, many of the wounded were sent to a nearby field hospital operated by the International Medical Corps, according to Javed Ali, an official with the aid group.

Diana Abu Shaban, 28, first heard gunfire as she was about to hang laundry near the tent where she was sheltering in Nuseirat. As the assault escalated, she told her daughters to hide before realizing that the frail tent could not protect them. Gathering her children, she sprinted to the nearby Al-Awda medical center in a desperate search for safety.

She said her husband, Saeed, had left earlier that morning for the market, where Palestinian residents said the strikes were particularly intense.

“I heard lots and lots of missiles,” Ms. Abu Shaban said. “I thought my husband would be killed or injured.”

After two hours, the bombing died down and she and her children left the hospital, she said. Later, they discovered that her husband had survived by hiding in a nearby shop.

Abd Al-Rahman Basem al-Masri, 25, who lives on the northern edge of Deir al-Balah, said Saturday had been the worst day he’d witnessed since the start of the war.

Mr. al-Masri said he, his mother and his younger brother had driven back from his uncle’s house and were approaching their home when an airstrike pounded into the ground beside it.

In a video shot by a friend who was also in the car, an expanding cloud of smoke can be seen rising behind the building. “In that moment, I lost hope that we can continue to live here,” Mr. al-Masri said.

Another Gazan who lives in Nuseirat, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said he and more than 10 family members hid inside for hours as heavy airstrikes rattled the neighborhood. He said he had no idea hostages had been held in the area.

After the bombing subsided, he headed out into the devastated market area, where he said he saw the street covered in blood and bodies. Gazans there were cursing not just Israel, but Hamas as well, he said, blaming them for bringing this disaster upon them.

He said neither Israel nor Hamas cared about the destruction as they sought to attack one another. Everyday people, he added, were the victims.

What is known about the hostages still in Gaza?

Israelis briefly breathed a collective sigh of relief on Saturday, when the military announced it had rescued four hostages who were held in Gaza for eight months after being captured in the Oct. 7 attack led by Hamas.

The four hostages were taken at the Nova music festival on Oct. 7 and were rescued in an operation in the town of Nuseirat in central Gaza early Saturday. The mission left scores of Palestinians, including women and children, dead. News of the rescue raised renewed questions about the fate of those who remain in captivity and a proposed cease-fire deal.

How many hostages are still being held in Gaza?

Roughly 120 captives remain in Gaza. The Israeli military has confirmed that at least 30 of them have died.

Earlier this month, the Israeli military informed the families of four hostages that they were dead and that their bodies were being held by Hamas. In May, the military recovered the bodies of nine hostages, and the families of two Thai citizens who had been captured were informed that their bodies were still being held in Gaza.

Will Israel undertake more rescue operations?

Dozens of proposed rescue missions have not gone forward for fear the hostages or soldiers would lose their lives in the process, according to Israeli defense officials.

Israeli troops have managed to rescue only seven living hostages in three separate military operations. In December, Israeli troops accidentally fired on and killed three hostages in Gaza who were trying to reach safety.

How did Hamas respond to the operation?

In a statement on social media, Abu Obaida, the military spokesman for Al-Qassam Brigades, accused Israel of “a complex war crime” and suggested that the rescue operation had endangered the remaining hostages and would have “a negative impact on their conditions and lives.”

What are the families of the hostages saying?

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents the families of the captives, held a rally in Tel-Aviv on Saturday, as it has throughout the war. The gathering drew thousands to celebrate the rescue operation. But the group stressed the urgency of bringing home all of the remaining captives in Gaza.

“The joyous news of the return home of Shlomi, Noa, Almog and Andrey to their families through a military operation reminds us all that, for 36 weeks, 120 hostages have been waiting to return home,” the group said in a statement that referred to the names of the freed captives and that pressed for the acceptance of a proposed cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas that would bring home the remaining hostages.

What is happening with the proposed cease-fire deal?

President Biden in late May outlined a road map for a three-phase plan that would begin with an immediate, temporary cease-fire and work toward a permanent end to the war and the reconstruction of Gaza.

In the first phase, both sides would observe a six-week cease-fire, Israel would withdraw from major population centers in Gaza and a number of hostages would be released, including women, the elderly and the wounded.

Israel and Hamas would continue to negotiate to reach a permanent cease-fire. If they are successful, the deal would enter phase two, with the full withdrawal of Israel’s military from the enclave.

All hostages and more Palestinian prisoners would be freed. In phase three, Hamas would return the bodies of hostages who had died, and a reconstruction period, backed by the United States, European countries and international institutions, would begin in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is facing competing pressures from the United States and other allies to end the war and from two far-right partners in his governing coalition who have threatened to bring down his government should Israel agree to a deal that would end the war without eliminating Hamas.

Hamas previously said that it was responding “positively” to the plan but had informed mediators that the group would not approve an agreement that did not provide a path for a permanent cease-fire, a total withdrawal of Israeli troops, and a “serious and real deal” to exchange Palestinian prisoners for hostages.

It is not clear what effect the latest hostage rescue operation will have on deal negotiations.

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Blinken arrives in Egypt to discuss the latest cease-fire proposal.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrived in Cairo on Monday, kicking off a three-day trip through the Middle East amid growing uncertainty over the prospects of a cease-fire in Gaza.

Mr. Blinken arrived in the Egyptian capital for a meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, whose government has helped to mediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a proposed cease-fire deal offered by Israel and backed by the United States.

Pressing for the deal will be one of Mr. Blinken’s top priorities during his trip. But more than two weeks have passed since Israel presented the deal to Hamas, and there has not been an official response. Some Hamas officials have suggested that they cannot agree to a limited halt to the fighting without greater assurances that Israel is prepared to negotiate an end to the war. U.S. officials say they are awaiting more definitive word from Hamas.

And it is unclear whether an Israeli raid on Saturday, which freed four hostages from Hamas captivity but killed dozens of Palestinians, might have further set back the chances that the militant group would agree to a deal with Israel.

“It’s a legitimate question,” Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, told CNN on Sunday. “It’s hard for me to put myself in the mind-set of a Hamas terrorist. We don’t know exactly what it is that they’re going to do.”

On his eighth trip to the region since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, Mr. Blinken also plans to visit Qatar, another Arab nation mediating between Israel and Hamas, and which hosts Hamas’s political leaders. The group’s ultimate decisions are made by its leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

Mr. Blinken’s efforts come a few days after inconclusive visits to Egypt and Qatar last week by the C.IA. director, William J. Burns, and Brett McGurk, the top White House official for Middle East affairs, in pursuit of a cease-fire deal.

Perhaps his most delicate stop will be in Israel, where tensions have grown between President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israel’s military during the war. Mr. Biden said last month that he had paused the delivery to Israel of some bombs, which can cause wide collateral damage, to ensure that they are not used in an assault on the Gazan town of Rafah.

Mr. Blinken will also be stepping into fresh tumult in Israel, following the decision by Benny Gantz, a rival of Mr. Netanyahu, to leave the country’s emergency war cabinet in protest of Mr. Netanyahu’s handling of the war.

An official schedule released by the State Department showed that Mr. Blinken plans to meet in the evening on Monday with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv. The schedule did not show a meeting with Mr. Gantz.

In Jordan, Mr. Blinken will attend a conference Tuesday on humanitarian aid for Gaza co-hosted by Jordan, Egypt and the United Nations.

Flemish Nationalists Thwart Ascent of Secessionist Party in Belgian Elections

Voters in Belgium handed a victory to a conservative Flemish nationalist party, disproving polls that had predicted a sweep to first place by Flemish secessionists, preliminary results showed on Sunday.

The New Flemish Alliance, a party that seeks greater autonomy for the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium, was poised in the national elections to become the country’s largest.

The results will bring relief to the country’s political establishment, which had long been bracing for a victory by the far-right party Vlaams Belang.

With more than 90 percent of the votes counted nationwide on Sunday evening, the New Flemish Alliance was set to secure 17 percent of the national vote, with Vlaams Belang trailing with 14 percent.

“Friends, we have won these elections! And admit it, you didn’t expect that,” the New Flemish Alliance leader, Bart De Wever, told supporters gathered in Brussels.

“The polls were bad,” he added. “The comments in the press were scathing. Our obituary was written. But you never gave up.”

Alexander De Croo, the prime minister and the leader of the liberal Open VLD party, announced that he would resign on Monday, starting the process for the formation of a new coalition government.

A victory for Vlaams Belang, which translates to Flemish Interest, would have presented a quandary for mainstream parties that have vowed not to work with the separatist and staunchly anti-immigrant party.

The strong showing for Vlaams Belang, which made gains compared with the elections in 2019, comes as far-right parties in some European countries were surging in elections for the European Parliament, also concluding on Sunday.

Belgium, a prosperous northern European country of some 11 million people, is home both to E.U. institutions and to the NATO headquarters, which sit in its capital, Brussels. The country is divided along linguistic lines between its French-speaking south, Wallonia, and its Flemish — Dutch-speaking — north, Flanders. It is also home to sizable immigrant communities, including Muslims with North African roots.

The country has long navigated its linguistic divide with a federal system that gives wide latitude and autonomy to its distinctive regions. With the New Flemish Alliance, a more moderate Flemish nationalist party than Vlaams Belang, expected to become the country’s largest, the call for even more Flemish autonomy could define postelection negotiations.

The New Flemish Alliance wants to negotiate a far-reaching overhaul of Belgium’s system of government to further increase regional autonomy. That is not enough for Vlaams Belang and its leader, Tom Van Grieken, who has made clear that the party’s call for an independent Flanders is not just rhetoric. Vlaams Belang wants to divide Belgium and turn Flanders into a separate country.

It is far from certain, however, that the two Flemish nationalist parties will join forces. The longstanding vow by all other Belgian parties never to govern with Vlaams Belang is still likely to keep Vlaams Belang out of power at a national level.

In its unique effort to accommodate regional differences, Belgium has created a convoluted state structure that makes voting a multitiered task. Election Day means directly or indirectly filling the seats of no fewer than six Parliaments, and kicking off negotiations to form six governments.

With Wallonia traditionally leaning to the left and Flanders to the right, political forces have long struggled to unite at the national level, with multiparty federal governments taking months and sometimes more than a year to emerge.

The elections in 2019 also brought a surge by Vlaams Belang, which made negotiations tougher than ever; Belgium remained without a formal government for nearly two years.

Biden Visits a Military Cemetery in France That Trump Once Snubbed

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There is trolling. And then there is presidential trolling.

President Biden on Sunday wrapped up a five-day visit to France by making a point to visit a cemetery for American soldiers killed in World War I. That, of course, is the kind of thing that presidents typically do.

But this particular cemetery was the same one that President Donald J. Trump was supposed to visit in 2018 before canceling, citing the rain, and touching off a political furor. For Mr. Biden — running against Mr. Trump again — visiting the cemetery was meant to send a message to voters back home.

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Modi, Striking a Modest Tone, Is Sworn In for a Third Term

As a humbled Narendra Modi was sworn in on Sunday for a third term as India’s prime minister, the political air in New Delhi appeared transformed.

The election that ended last week stripped Mr. Modi of his parliamentary majority and forced him to turn to a diverse set of coalition partners to stay in power. Now, these other parties are enjoying something that for years was singularly Mr. Modi’s: relevance and the spotlight.

Their leaders have been swarmed by TV crews while on their way to present demands and policy opinions to Mr. Modi. His opponents, too, have been getting more airtime, with stations cutting live to their news conferences, something almost unheard-of in recent years.

Above all, the change can be seen in Mr. Modi himself. For now, at least, the messianic air is gone. He pitches himself as the modest administrator that voters showed they wanted.

“To run the government, a majority is necessary. But to run the nation, a consensus is necessary,” Mr. Modi said in a speech on Friday to members of his coalition ahead of his swearing in. “The people want us to deliver better than before.”

A visibly emotional Mr. Modi took the oath of office on Sunday evening, only the second prime minister to be elected for a third consecutive term in the seven decades of India’s republic. The ceremony, at the country’s presidential palace, was attended by about 8,000 supporters and dignitaries, including the leaders of India’s neighboring nations.

To many, Mr. Modi’s shift in approach can mean only good things for the country’s democracy — a move toward moderation in a hugely diverse nation that was being whipped into a Hindu-first monolith in the image of one man.

The question is whether Mr. Modi can truly become something he has not been during his two-plus decades in elected office: a consensus builder.

“He is a pragmatic politician and, for his own survival and for the survival of his party, he will be a little mellowed,” said Ashutosh, a New Delhi-based analyst who uses only one name and is the author of a book on how Indian politics have changed under Mr. Modi. “But to assume a qualitative change in his style of governance is expecting too much.”

A trademark of Mr. Modi’s leadership in recent years has been the use of power levers at his disposal — from pressure of police cases to the lure of a share in power and its perks — to break his opponents and get them to switch to his side. A bruised governing party may well try such tactics to peel away some lawmakers to his side, analyst say, to buttress his place at the top.

But in the days leading up to the swearing-in, a change in approach was evident.

When members of the new coalition packed into the hall of India’s old Parliament building on Friday for deliberations on forming the government, every time a senior ally seated next to him stood up to start his speech, Mr. Modi also stood up. When it was time for Mr. Modi to be garlanded as the coalition’s choice for prime minister, he waited for the leaders of the two main coalition partners to arrive by his side before the congratulatory wreath of purple orchids was placed around his neck.

His hourlong address contained none of his usual references to himself in the third person. His tone was measured. He focused on the coalition’s promise of “good governance” and “the dream of a developed India,” and he acknowledged that things would be different from the past 10 years.

The last time Mr. Modi came to the Parliament complex for a closely watched event, last May when he inaugurated a new, more modern building for the assembly, he made an entrance some observers compared with that of a king: with markings on his forehead as a sign of piety and a scepter in his hand, as shirtless, chanting Hindu monks walked ahead of and behind him.

This time, he went straight to a copy of the Constitution, which declares that India is a secular and socialist democracy, bowing before it and lifting it to his forehead.

For the first time in his more than two decades in elected office, Mr. Modi finds himself in uncharted territory. Until now, as long as he has been at the helm — whether at the state level as the chief minister of Gujarat or at the national level — his Bharatiya Janata Party has always had a majority. Analysts say that history of never having been in the opposition has shaped his heavy-handed approach to politics.

When he left Gujarat, after 13 years, he had established such a firm grip and had so routed the opposition that the state had effectively become one of single-party rule. His first national victory in 2014, with a majority for his B.J.P., ended decades of coalition governance in India, in which no party had been able to capture the 272 seats in Parliament necessary for a majority. In 2019, he was re-elected with an even bigger majority.

Mr. Modi’s enormous power helped swiftly carry out what had for decades been his right-wing party’s agenda, including construction of a lavish Hindu temple on a long-disputed site that once held a mosque, and the revocation of the special status long enjoyed by the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

A separatist insurgency has long troubled the Himalayan Kashmir region. As the inauguration ceremony began in New Delhi on Sunday, a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims in the Reasi district fell into a gorge after gunmen opened fire on it. At least eight people were killed, the police said.

A trademark of Mr. Modi’s governance was a disregard for parliamentary procedures and for debates on legislation. His unexpected, overnight demonetization in 2016 — which invalidated India’s currency in an effort to crack down on corruption — threw the country into chaos and dealt a blow to a still cash-driven economy. Similarly, rushing to enact laws aimed at overhauling the agriculture market resulted in a year of protests that choked Delhi, forcing Mr. Modi to retreat.

Before the election results came out, Mr. Modi’s party had predicted that his coalition would win 400 seats in India’s 543-seat Parliament. The opposition would be reduced to sitting “in the spectators’ gallery,” Mr. Modi said. Officials in his government had made clear that in his new term he would seek to put in place the only main item remaining on his party’s agenda: legislating a “uniform civil code” across this diverse country to replace varying laws of different religions that currently govern issues like marriage and inheritance. His party leaders spoke of Mr. Modi not only as their leader for the current term, but also for the next election in 2029, when he would be 78.

“He has been trying to transform the country,” Sudesh Verma, a B.J.P. official who wrote a book on Mr. Modi’s rise, said in an interview before the election results were announced. I look forward to him working like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who worked into his 90s.”

But under a coalition government, Mr. Modi’s traditional approach will be difficult.

Two of the main coalition parties that helped him achieve the minimum number of Parliament seats to form a government are secular, in contrast to Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist ideology.

N. Chandrababu Naidu, whose party holds 16 seats, has been scathing in the past in his criticism of Mr. Modi’s treatment of the Muslim minority. He has also openly criticized Mr. Modi for using the central investigating agencies to target his opponents and taking “steps to subvert all democratic institutions.”

Neerja Chowdhury, a political analyst in Delhi and the author of the 2023 book “How Prime Ministers Decide,” said, “The contentious ideological issues, like the enactment of the uniform civil code, may be put on the back burner if the allies are not comfortable with it.”

Mr. Modi’s popular image is built on two strong pillars. He is a champion of economic development, with an inspiring biography of a rise from a humble caste and relative poverty. He is also a lifelong Hindu nationalist, with decades as a foot soldier in a movement seeking to turn India’s secular and diverse state into an overtly Hindu-first place.

At the peak of his power, the Hindu nationalist aspect increasingly dominated. Analysts say that the recent rebuke by voters might be a lucky break for the nation: prompting Mr. Modi to tap into his development champion side, and to focus on a legacy of economic transformation that could improve the lives of all Indians.

Suhasini Raj contributed reporting.

Iran Names Six Candidates for President, Including Parliament Speaker

Six candidates, including the speaker of Parliament, have been approved to run in the Iranian election this month to succeed President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month. The vote comes at a moment when the country faces acute domestic and international challenges, state media said on Sunday.

The speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, and five other men were approved by the Guardian Council, a 12-person body that vets candidates, for the balloting on June 28, according to the state news agency IRNA, which cited Mohsen Eslami, spokesman for the country’s election headquarters.

Mr. Ghalibaf, a retired pilot and former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, has run twice unsuccessfully for the country’s presidency and is a former mayor of the capital, Tehran. He became speaker of Parliament in 2020 following a legislative election.

The other candidates include a former interior minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi; Saeed Jalili, a former chief nuclear negotiator; and the current Tehran mayor, Alireza Zakani.

The country’s next president will be confronted with problems at home and abroad. Deep economic troubles, exacerbated by international sanctions, are fueling discontent among some Iranians who have demanded social and political freedoms as well as prosperity.

The largest recent uprising, led by women, erupted in 2022 after a young woman, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody; she was accused of improperly covering her hair under the country’s hijab laws. Those protests grew to include demands for an end to clerical rule.

On the international front, the new president will also face the “Axis of Resistance” that Tehran has adopted as its policy against the United States and Israel, including by funding Hamas and Hezbollah, armed groups based in Gaza and Lebanon, and by arming the Houthis in Yemen, who have attacked cargo ships in the Red Sea.

A long shadow war between Iran and Israel broke into the open in April when Tehran launched a volley of missiles and exploding drones at Israel in retaliation for a deadly strike on an Iranian Embassy building in Damascus.

Beyond that, Iran has supplied Moscow with exploding drones that it has used in Ukraine to sap that country’s ability to resist a full-scale invasion by Russia in 2022. That has, in turn, made Tehran a central player in an indirect confrontation between the Kremlin and NATO countries, including the United States.

The next Iranian president faces critical decisions about the country’s status as a “threshold” nuclear state that could produce fuel for three or four bombs in short order. Last week, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency censured Iran over its refusal to grant inspectors access to its uranium enrichment program.

Iran has for years said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that it is not pursuing a bomb. But in recent months, several senior Iranian officials have said that it could revise its nuclear doctrine if it faced an existential threat from other nuclear countries, namely Israel and the United States.

Mr. Raisi died along with the foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, while traveling in the country’s northwest. The president had been seen as a possible successor to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his death has shifted the dynamics in the debate over who could succeed Mr. Khamenei. One possible candidate is the supreme leader’s son Mojtaba Khamenei.

While it was unclear how the June 28 election will shape questions of succession, the country’s leadership has taken steps after Mr. Raisi’s sudden death to project stability, emphasizing that the governing of the country will not be affected.

Where New Tent Cities Are Rising in Central Gaza


A growing area of central Gaza is filling up with tents, satellite imagery shows, as Palestinians who fled south to Rafah to escape danger have picked up their possessions and moved yet again in search of safety.

Most Gazans in Rafah began leaving in early May, after the Israeli military, preparing for its ground operation in the south, issued evacuation orders for the eastern part of the city.

But another exodus began toward the end of the month, after an Israeli strike that local authorities said killed dozens of people at a displaced camp. Israel said the strike targeted a Hamas compound. An attack at the nearby area of Al-Mawasi two days later killed 21 more people sheltering there, Gazan officials say. Israel has insisted that it has not attacked the areas it has designated as “humanitarian zones,” where evacuating Gazans have been instructed to go.

In all, more than one million Gazans — nearly half the territory’s total population — have now fled Rafah, according to the United Nations. Many have been displaced repeatedly.

When the Israeli military issued its evacuation orders for Rafah in early May, it instructed Palestinians to go to a “humanitarian zone” that it designated along the Gazan coast. The zone extends from south of Khan Younis to Deir al Balah in the north.

Some people sheltering in western Rafah also began packing up, even though the area was not named in the evacuation order. In satellite imagery captured late last month, few tents could be seen there.

As Rafah emptied, Palestinians fled to coastal areas in the governorates of Khan Younis and Deir al Balah, an area that roughly aligns with the humanitarian zone declared by the Israeli military.

The pace of resettlement sped up in the aftermath of the deadly strike that killed dozens in the camp for displaced people.

Even before Israel began its ground operation in Rafah, many Palestinians had sought shelter in central Gaza, near Deir al Balah. But some of the coastline remained largely empty.

Now, tents and temporary shelters fill nearly 12 continuous miles of coastline, stretching from near Wadi Gaza in the north toward the border with Egypt in the south. With space at a premium, some people have been forced to pitch their tents just meters away from the waves.

British TV Doctor Michael Mosley Found Dead in Greece

After a four-day search, Greek officials said on Sunday they had found the body of Michael Mosley, a British medical journalist and documentary maker who disappeared last week while on a trip on the Greek island of Symi.

His body was found on a beach in Agia Marina, said the mayor of Symi, Eleftherios Papakalodoukas.

His disappearance had prompted an extensive search that called in firefighters, police officers and volunteers. The authorities also used dogs and drones, and the Greek coast guard also joined the effort as fears escalated that Dr. Mosley had drifted out to sea.

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Ukrainian Activist Traces Roots of War in ‘Centuries of Russian Colonization’

On a recent afternoon in Kyiv, a professor of literature and a stand-up comedian ​got together to talk about Russian colonialism, a subject that has become ​a preoccupation among Ukrainian activists, cultural figures and bookstore owners.

​The moderator of the discussion, which was recorded for a new podcast for Ukraine’s national public broadcaster, was Mariam Naiem, a graphic designer and former philosophy student who has become an unlikely expert on the topic.

“This war is just the continuation of centuries of Russian colonization,” said Ms. Naiem, 32, ​referring to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. “It’s the same playbook.”

Russia’s long cultural and political domination of Ukraine, first through its empire and then the Soviet Union, had left an indelible mark, the podcast guests agreed, as they lamented being more fluent in Russian poems and films than in their own nation’s cultural treasures.

The goal of the podcast, Ms. Naiem said, was to solve this problem and “talk about our personal and social path of decolonization.”

It may have seemed an odd moment of cultural introspection in a war-battered country with urgent problems like how to repel Russian troops advancing along the front line.

But Ms. Naiem and many Ukrainians say that to understand Russia’s war in Ukraine — and its trail of razed cities, displaced children and looted museums — it is crucial to examine how Russia has long exerted its influence over their country.

The daughter of a Ukrainian mother and an Afghan father, Ms. Naiem is emblematic of a new generation of Ukrainians who, since Moscow invaded in February 2022, have been trying to rebuild their identity free of Russian influence. Much of this effort has focused on examining Russia’s history in Ukraine and highlighting its colonial imprint.

They have read famous theorists of decolonization like Edward Said and Frantz Fanon, talked of “decolonizing Ukraine” in Harvard lecture halls and gone on book tours around Europe to press their case.

Ms. Naiem has emerged as a leading voice in this movement. She studied philosophy at the Kyiv-based Taras Shevchenko National University and has also done a stint as a researcher with Jason Stanley, a professor of philosophy at Yale University.

Last year, she hosted an award-winning podcast on the theoretical foundations of Russian colonialism. In addition to the new podcast she is currently recording, she is now writing a book to help Ukrainians “decolonize” themselves, she said.

“She has seriously influenced me intellectually,” Mr. Stanley told Babel.ua, a Ukrainian online news outlet, last year. He added that she convinced him that Ukraine’s post-colonial history was not being studied enough and that “it should be changed.”

That is not an easy task. To call Russia a colonial empire is to challenge decades of scholarship that has shied away from viewing Russia’s history through a colonial prism. Russia’s shared history with Ukraine is complex and less marked by relations of racial hierarchy and economic subjugation typical of colonialism, many scholars have argued.

But Ms. Naiem and others say Russia’s centuries-long efforts to impose its language on Ukraine, occupy its territory with settlers and rewrite its history from Moscow’s perspective are all hallmarks of colonialism.

Ms. Naiem said it took the war for Ukrainians to take stock of this legacy and finally begin to “decolonize” themselves. She cited the example of the many people who have switched from speaking Russian to Ukrainian.

“This is exactly a decolonial act,” she said.

While many Ukrainians have devoted their time to raising money for the army or rebuilding destroyed houses, Ms. Naiem’s activism has been more intellectual, focused on deconstructing Russian influences, including those that shaped her.

She was born into a Russian-speaking family in Kyiv in 1992. Her father was a former education minister in Afghanistan who left Kabul after the Soviet invasion in 1979. She has two brothers, Mustafa, a leading figure of Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution, and Masi, who lost an eye fighting Russian troops in 2022.

When she grew up in a newly independent Ukraine in the 1990s, the country’s cultural scene was dominated by Russian music, TV shows and books.

At school, classes were in Ukrainian, but “it wasn’t cool” to speak it in the playground, she said. Russian literature was also “cooler” than Ukrainian literature, she recalled thinking, “more mysterious, more complicated.” Some of the novels she read belittled Ukrainians as uneducated people.

“Turgenev pushed me to consider myself more Russian than Ukrainian,” Ms. Naiem wrote on Instagram two years ago, referring to the 19th-century Russian novelist. “Because I didn’t want to be that funny Ukrainian.”

It took Ms. Naiem many years, and many new books, to shake off these views.

During the pandemic, she buried herself in “Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism,” a book by the Polish American scholar Ewa Thompson that argues that writers like Pushkin and Tolstoy helped legitimized Russia’s colonial ambitions.

“I realized that centuries of colonialism had seeped into my mind,” Ms. Naiem said.

After the Russian invasion, she wrote about her research on her Instagram page, which is followed by 22,000 people, arguing that Russia’s efforts to erase Ukrainian culture and identity are rooted in a long history of colonialism.

Her posts attracted attention and persuaded her to spread the word further. In addition to her podcasting, she has given interviews to Ukrainian media on colonialism and filled her Instagram page with more posts, questioning, for example, the place of Mikhail Bulgakov, a Kyiv-born Soviet writer who ridiculed Ukrainians, in Ukrainian school curricula.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

On a recent afternoon at a music festival in Kyiv, a passer-by thanked her for her efforts, one of several people that day who told her they had learned a lot from her podcasts.

Still, much of her time remains spent trying to convince people that talking of Russian colonialism is relevant.

Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher, said the topic had long been viewed with skepticism.

Unlike Western colonies, which were often far-distant, overseas places, Russian colonies were adjacent territories, he said. Russian colonialism also never made racial exclusion a core policy, he added. Instead, it was based on the no-less violent “idea of sameness,” meaning that the colonized should surrender their identity and adopt the norms of the colonizer.

Mr. Yermolenko said colonial motives were evident in President Vladimir V. Putin’s claim that Ukrainians and Russians were “one people.”

“People long didn’t want to hear about Russian colonialism,” Mr. Yermolenko said. “Only now are we kind of seeing the first steps of intellectual debunking.”

Since Russia’s invasion began, some scholars have described it as a “colonial war” or one of recolonization. President Emmanuel Macron, who himself has had to confront the legacy of French colonialism, has accused Russia of being “one of the last colonial imperial powers.”

Ukrainian authorities have also launched efforts to break free of Russian influences, such as toppling Soviet-era statues and banning Russian place names. But they have stopped short of calling it a process of “decolonization,” to Ms. Naiem’s frustration.

“We’re doing the cake without the recipe,” she said. “We need the recipe.”

Still, she is pleased that a discussion about Russian colonialism has taken root.

On a recent afternoon in central Kyiv, Ms. Naiem stepped into a large bookstore and stared at a long table covered with recently published books.

“Let’s see how many are about colonialism,” she said.

“This one, this one,” she said, as she grabbed book after book — one on Russia’s dominance of Ukrainian cultural life, another about rebellious Ukrainian writers of the 1960s — and piled them up on a corner of the table.

After a few minutes, the pile had grown to 21 books.

French-American Friendship in Four Courses

Beneath the crystal chandeliers of the gilded reception hall of the Élysée Palace, opened in 1889 with a party for 8,000 people, President Emmanuel Macron of France hosted President Biden on Saturday night at a state dinner intended to celebrate a very old alliance and demonstrate that the bond is greater than its intermittent frictions.

Mr. Biden, addressing the French leader as “Emmanuel,” rose from a long table adorned with a bouquet of pink peonies and roses to say that “France was our first ally, and that is not insignificant.” He cited a book titled “The Pocket Guide to France” that he said was distributed to the American forces who, eight decades ago, fought their way up the Normandy bluffs through a hail of Nazi gunfire to wrest Europe from tyranny.

“No bragging,” Mr. Biden quoted the guide as saying, “the French don’t like that!” The book urged U.S. solders to be generous — “it won’t hurt you” — and said the French “happen to speak democracy in a different language, but we are all in the same boat.”

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It Called Itself a Yoga School. Prosecutors Say It Was a Sex Cult.

Juan Percowicz was an accountant with an unusual side hobby: teaching self-help classes around Buenos Aires with a heavy dose of ancient philosophy and New Age spiritualism. He was a hit and, with donations from his followers, he built an organization known as Buenos Aires Yoga School, or BAYS.

For more than 30 years, he ran the school, which promised spiritual salvation through lectures and self-help classes.

But now, Mr. Percowicz, 85, and more than a dozen BAYS members are facing criminal charges, accused of running a “sex cult,” not a yoga school, that coerced some of its female members into prostitution and laundered the profits in real estate.

Prosecutors say the organization exploited and drugged some of its female members, forcing them to sell their bodies and generating hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly from clients in Argentina and the United States. BAYS also ran an illicit clinic where some members were administered drugs to induce prolonged sleep, sometimes as a form of punishment, according to prosecutors.

“Cults exist here, but we’ve never seen one that operated at this level,” said Ricardo Juri, the investigator who oversaw police raids on BAYS properties in August 2022.

The accusations against BAYS shocked Argentina, yet for many people, they also felt eerily familiar.

In the 1990s, Mr. Percowicz and his school first gained notoriety after an Argentine family accused the organization of brainwashing their daughter. During the investigation, some former members talked of being forced to work as “slaves” and said the school promoted prostitution.

But that original case stalled in the courts. Argentina did not yet have laws on human trafficking or money laundering, according to investigators. The country’s justice system was still being overhauled after the end of the military dictatorship more than a decade earlier in which tens of thousands of people were killed.

A 1999 State Department report said Argentina’s judiciary was “hampered by inordinate delays, procedural logjams, changes of judges, inadequate administrative support and incompetence.”

There also remained a lingering distrust of government and the judicial system — and defenders of BAYS tapped into that, including Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, an Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, whose children had been “disappeared” by the authoritarian regime. They accused the Argentine judiciary of corruption and human rights violations connected to the case.

Eventually, the case against BAYS was dropped.

Now, with updated laws, prosecutors are again targeting Mr. Percowicz and his followers in a new investigation examining BAYS operations dating back to 2004.

“The people are the same, the decisions are the same, the activities are similar, but there are two very important laws now with big penalties that prohibit the core activities these people were doing,” said Ariel Lijo, a judge who oversaw the initial stages of the case. Mr. Lijo was nominated for Argentina’s Supreme Court in March by President Javier Milei.

In the 2022 raids on BAYS, investigators said they found more than $1 million in cash, five bars of gold, stashes of pornographic films, checkbooks from American banks and dossiers on wealthy individuals, including some who live in the United States. American authorities have cooperated in the investigation, according to Argentine investigators.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment.

Prosecutors say that the seven women named as victims were brought to BAYS by their parents when they were minors, or that they joined as young women and were eventually forced into prostitution. But the women in the case have denied ever having sex in exchange for money, or being victims of any crime.

Defense lawyers for Mr. Percowicz and current members of BAYS have denied all charges, arguing that no one in the organization was exploited. Instead, they say that the accusers — whose identities are protected in the case — want revenge on the organization for personal reasons.

“This is a case of human trafficking without victims of trafficking,” said Jorge Daniel Pirozzo, a lawyer who represents Mr. Percowicz and five other BAYS members. “It hasn’t been proven that anybody has been sexually exploited.”

Mr. Percowicz and BAYS members declined interview requests.

While prostitution in Argentina is not illegal, promoting or economically exploiting the practice of prostitution using deception, abuse or intimidation is. The prosecutors say they intend to show that the victims do not recognize themselves as such because Mr. Percowicz and his allies psychologically manipulated the women over years.

As both sides prepare their arguments, the organization continues to have prominent allies, including in the United States.

In October 2022, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. sent an email to Mr. Lijo, the judge, which was reviewed by The New York Times. The message said that BAYS members were “victims of brutal and egregious human rights violations by elements of the Argentine legal system.” It was unclear why Mr. Jackson, 82, sent the email.

He did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Caterina Sanfelice was a hairstylist in her forties when a friend first invited her to a BAYS lecture around 1993. “It was like going to a fancy café with an orator,” she said.

Mr. Percowicz spoke of finding inner strength, she recalls, hooking people with promises of answers in the next session. Ms. Sanfelice said she started going to the talks at least once a week with her family.

Eventually, she said, it became clear something was off. Ms. Sanfelice said Mr. Percowicz told her that “he felt like God.” His closest followers started calling him “angel” or “master.” Then, at a BAYS party, Ms. Sanfelice said two women propositioned her husband while other members undressed to prepare for an orgy. She ran out of the building.

When Ms. Sanfelice told her husband she did not want to go back, she said, he replied that the school saw in him what she did not see: a great architect.

“They raised his self-esteem,” she said. “That’s when he started to feel important. And I became the witch.”

Ms. Sanfelice said her husband, who could not be reached for comment, left her in 1993 and stayed involved with BAYS. She said she was exasperated and felt like no one believed her.

Then came some validation: the first criminal case against BAYS, which captured international attention.

At the center of it was Maria Valeria Llamas, who was 20 and jobless when a family friend offered to take her to a BAYS lecture in 1990.

“At first we saw it as something positive,” said Martín Sommariva, Ms. Llamas’s half brother. “We went from a Valeria who didn’t go out, who was stuck in her room the whole time, to this Valeria who got on the bus and had an interest in something.”

But over the next few years, the yoga school consumed her life, her family said. Ms. Llamas broke up with her boyfriend and lost touch with friends. She stopped going to family outings. She began working at a pharmacy run by BAYS members.

Soon after, her mother said, she found out Ms. Llamas had been pressured by the school to have an illegal abortion. When her family questioned her, Ms. Llamas replied that Mr. Percowicz was “an immortal angel.”

The next day, two BAYS members showed up at the house, escorted by police officers, according to the family and court records from the case. They said they were suing the parents for “unlawful deprivation of liberty.” The police moved Ms. Llamas’s belongings into an apartment owned by BAYS, her family said. Ms. Llamas later accused her stepfather of sexually assaulting her, court records show.

“Suddenly the world came crashing down on us,” recalled her mother, Elena. “We thought: What are we going to do now?”

No rape charges were ever filed against the family members. Ms. Llamas did not respond to requests for comment.

The family filed a criminal complaint in 1993, accusing the school of being a cult that had brainwashed their daughter.

The accusation ended up in the docket of Mariano Bergés, a young judge starting his career. Under Argentina’s judiciary system at the time, judges could both investigate cases and oversee the court proceedings. As part of the investigation, Mr. Bergés said in an interview, he authorized a raid of the headquarters and some of BAYS’s other properties.

He said the raids found boxes of letters that showed members paying Mr. Percowicz for a higher spiritual ranking in the organization. This was not illegal, but, combined with the testimony of former members, it led investigators to believe there was illegal activity underway. Mr. Bergés then ordered wiretaps on Mr. Percowicz and his top deputies, which Mr. Bergés said indicated a scheme to steal the assets of a deceased BAYS member.

In depositions reviewed by The Times, several former BAYS members later said that Mr. Percowicz and his inner circle forced younger followers to be “slaves” to higher ranking members, making them carry out tasks like housework without pay. Former members also said that the organization promoted prostitution, the depositions show, though none said they had been prostituted themselves.

But without human trafficking or money laundering laws in Argentina, Mr. Bergés said, he had to build a case around fraud, promotion of prostitution and a flimsy charge known as “corruption of adults.”

In late 1995, Mr. Bergés withdrew from the case after being threatened with impeachment by Argentina’s Congress. In an interview, he said the Congress and Supreme Court, as well as human-rights groups, pressured him to step down, saying that his investigation tactics, like the wiretapping and raids, violated the suspects’ civil rights. He denies the accusations.

Outside his house, he said, “The walls were plastered with posters and things against me.”

By the mid-1990s, BAYS had opened wellness companies and a foundation in Chicago, Las Vegas and New York. It had gained a reputation as an education center for philosophy and wellness whose members included scholars, professionals and musicians.

BAYS had also cultivated supporters in the U.S. Congress, though it is unclear how the lawmakers first became aware of the organization or whether any of them had any real knowledge or connections to the group.

In Argentina, the criminal case against the organization continued to drag through the courts. More than 50 congressional members sent letters to the country’s government demanding the investigation be closed, according to the House record. (There is no evidence that any U.S. politicians were members of BAYS or investigated by Argentine officials.)

Edolphus Towns, a congressman representing part of Brooklyn, said in House testimony that BAYS members were being harassed by Argentine judicial officials, had been unlawfully imprisoned and subject to antisemitism. Mr. Percowicz and some of his top deputies are Jewish.

Mr. Towns, 89, retired in 2013 and did not respond to requests for comment.

Robert A. Underwood, a former congressman from Guam who signed a letter sent to President Bill Clinton calling for him to intervene, said in an interview that such missives were common. “Nobody really puts a lot of thought into it because you are signing letters all the time,” he said.

Mr. Clinton, in his final year in office, responded to members of Congress in September 1999 and said that U.S. Embassy officials in Buenos Aires had “recently reiterated to senior Argentine officials the importance of resolving this case as quickly as possible,” according to a letter provided to The Times by the Clinton Presidential Library.

The White House’s written response to Congress “reflects the extent of President Clinton’s involvement in this,” said Angel Ureña, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton.

In Argentina, the criminal case against BAYS was eventually closed in the early 2000s with no convictions.

Over the next 20 years, BAYS flourished, with little attention from Argentine authorities. During this period, Mr. Percowicz made clear he was in the business of making money.

“If what we wanted to do here was write a book about the life of Jesus, we wouldn’t be thinking about anything other than the life of Jesus,” Mr. Percowicz told his followers in 2006 in a video obtained by investigators. “But what we are trying to do here is make a billion dollars, one billion dollars, goddamn it!”

Then, in 2021, BAYS ran into new trouble.

Argentina’s federal public prosecutor’s office for trafficking and the exploitation of people opened an investigation into the organization.

Investigators tapped the phones of Mr. Percowicz and some of his allies, capturing conversations that, according to prosecutors, show the work of managing a prostitution operation.

Transcripts filed in court show that in one call, Mr. Percowicz goes over the logistics of arranging what investigators say was a sexual encounter. In a separate recording, a BAYS manager tells Mr. Percowicz that a woman is bringing in only $6,000 a month, which is not enough money, suggesting she needs to bring in more for the organization.

The wiretaps also recorded conversations with a man whom prosecutors say is Plácido Domingo, one of the world’s most famous opera singers, who has faced numerous accusations of sexual harassment in recent years. In one call, he speaks to a woman who prosecutors say was a senior member of BAYS to discuss how she could get to his Buenos Aires hotel room without being noticed.

Argentine prosecutors have not brought charges against Mr. Domingo in connection to the BAYS case.

A spokesperson for Mr. Domingo said in a statement that the opera singer had not been charged “and he is completely unrelated to the investigation.”

Prosecutors said that the majority of BAYS’s income came from sex-trafficking activities, and was then laundered into real estate in Argentina and the United States, and they estimated BAYS’s total assets at nearly $50 million as of December 2020.

Prosecutors say they are confident that the evidence and new laws will enable them to bring Mr. Percowicz and other defendants to justice. The case is currently working its way through the courts. No trial date has been set yet.

For Pablo Salum, whose mother first brought him to BAYS when he was only 8, justice is already too late. He left the organization when he was 12 and has become estranged from his mother and sister, who remain BAYS members.

“This could have ended 20 years ago,” he said. “Everything that is happening now would not have had to happen. And I may even have recovered my family.”

Glenn Thrush contributed reporting from Washington.

Energy Drinks Boost Ukraine’s Soldiers, and Its Economy

On a sunny morning, deep in the forests of western Ukraine where the war barely reaches, 16,000 cans of a new energy drink, Volia, rolled off the assembly line every hour at the Morshynska beverage factory.

Several hundred miles east, driving toward the front line, the sweating coolers at the minimarts and gas stations are loaded with Volia and an array of other energy drinks: Burn, Monster, Non Stop, Hell, Pit Bull and of course the eye-widening veteran of them all, Red Bull.

By the time one reaches the trenches, where thousands of troops are dug in, trying to survive, the supremacy is complete: Ukrainian soldiers will pass up coffee, Coke, even water in favor of the liquid jolt they need to keep going.

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For the First French Town Liberated on D-Day, History Is Personal

Reporting from Ste.-Mère-Église, France

American soldiers in uniforms spill out from the bars and cafes all around June 6 Square, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

Phil Collins blares from loudspeakers. American flags flutter from chimneys and windows, on overhead lines and even from around the neck of a golden retriever trotting by with her owner.

Is this really France?

“This is the 53rd state,” Philippe Nekrassoff, a local deputy mayor, said as he made his way across the square, with its Roman milestone and medieval church, while U.S. paratroopers wearing maroon berets played soccer with a group of local teenagers. “Americans are at home here.”

Here is Ste.-Mère-Église, a slip of a town in northwest Normandy with one main street. About 3,000 residents live in the town and its surrounding region, with its fields of cows and towering hedges.

Hundreds of U.S. paratroopers landed in the immediate area in the early hours of June 6, 1944. Four hours later — even before the world’s largest armada arrived to the nearby Normandy beaches — one of those soldiers hauled down the Nazi flag and hoisted an American one up over city hall.

“This was the first town to be liberated on the western front,” read two marble plaques, one in French and one in English, in front of the building.


The story of that liberation is now deeply threaded into the town’s identity.

While most villages across Normandy hold annual D-Day commemorations, little Ste.-Mère-Église hosts six parades, 10 ceremonies, 11 concerts and a parachute jump by current U.S. paratroopers.

Statues, plaques and historical panels dot many street corners. Shops have names like D-Day, Bistrot 44 and Hair’born salon. There’s a mannequin of John Steele, the American paratrooper immortalized in the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” hanging from the church steeple as he did on June 6, 1944, his parachute billowing.

At first blush, the town seems, well, too unabashedly and in-your-face American for a country that revels in self-criticism and understatement.

But stick around a bit, and the town reveals a relationship with U.S. paratroopers that is deep, sincere and disarmingly beautiful.

“There is a sense of welcome here that’s nothing like anything else in the region,” said Jacques Villain, a photographer who has documented the village’s celebration for 25 years and was the driving force behind the just-published bilingual book “Ste.-Mère-Église: We Will Remember Them.”

The town’s first D-Day commemoration was small and took place two months later, while the war in Europe was still raging, he pointed out. On the first anniversary of D-Day, Maj. Gen. James Gavin, by then the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, sent 30 soldiers back from Germany for the ceremonies.

Just after midnight on June 6, 1944, wave after wave of low-flying airplanes roared over Ste.-Mère-Église and the surrounding area. Spilling from them were thousands of parachutes, flitting across the sky like confetti.

One parachute floated right down into a trench dug in Georgette Flais’ backyard, where she was huddled with her parents and a neighbor. Attached to it was Cliff Maughan. Ms. Flais refers to him as “our American.”

“He represented, for me, something extraordinary — liberation,” said Ms. Flais, now 96.

She recalled how the German soldier billeted in her house burst into view, his rifle pointed into the trench. Ms. Flais’ father jumped up and begged the German not to shoot. Miraculously, he agreed.

Soon after, the German soldier realized the Americans had taken the town and surrendered to Mr. Maughan, who Ms. Flais described as preternaturally calm, handing out chewing gum, chocolate and cigarettes. He curled up on his parachute for a quick nap before heading out at dawn to fight.

“We kissed him warmly goodbye,” Ms. Flais said. “A friendship was born.”

As the first place to be liberated, Ste.-Mère-Église quickly became the place where fallen American soldiers were first buried — 13,800 in three fields turned cemeteries around the village. Local men dug the graves.

“It was just a little village of 1,300 inhabitants,” said Marc Lefèvre, the town’s mayor for 30 years who left office in 2014. “They were witness to the price of sacrifice, with all those trucks of coffins. That left a huge impact.”

One of the graves was for Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who died of a heart attack five weeks after landing on Utah Beach. He was the eldest son of Theodore Roosevelt, the former U.S. president.

Simone Renaud, the mayor’s wife, was captured laying flowers on his tomb by a Life magazine photographer.

The reaction from grieving mothers in the United States was immediate. Hundreds sent Ms. Renaud letters, pleading for her to visit their son’s graves and send back photos. She complied.

Henri-Jean Renaud, 89, recently flipped through albums of carefully sorted letters to his mother, written in longhand, from 80 years ago.

Some of the women later came to visit the graves themselves. They ate dinner with the Renauds and sometimes stayed in their home. “I am still in touch with a family that had a kid my age,” Mr. Renaud said.

He still visits the grave of one soldier “from time to time, to say a little hello to him,” he said.

Years later, American veterans began to make pilgrimages to Ste.-Mère-Église for its annual D-Day commemorations.

The town had only one hotel, since renamed after Mr. Steele. So Ms. Renaud, who died in 1988, formed the Friends of American Veterans association, and many locals joined and hosted the visitors in their homes.

Volunteers spent afternoons driving around, trying to help the veterans find the exact spot in a field or marsh or tree where they first landed.

“For most of them, it was there they had their first losses, their first powerful emotions, the first friend killed, the first wounded,” Mr. Renaud said. “Those are things that mark you for life. So they were always trying to find that beginning.”

By 1984, Ms. Flais was teaching Greek and Latin in a high school in Alençon, about 140 miles away. On June 6 of that year, she was watching television when she saw on the screen an American soldier who had come back to Ste.-Mère-Église. He was broader, and wore a baseball hat instead of a helmet. But he had that same laid-back demeanor. She jumped in the car and rushed back to her childhood town.

“It was my American,” she said. “We fell into one another’s arms.”

Today, 80 years later, there are few veterans left. Their successors now crowd the town square, where Mr. Steele and his fellow World War II parachutists are celebrated and remembered as veritable gods.

They are joined by the thousands of re-enactment enthusiasts, tourists and French citizens who come to pay their respects.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Jonathan Smith, 43, whose trip here was a retirement present after 18 and a half years of service with the 82nd Airborne Division. “I didn’t make it 10 paces this morning without kids stopping me to ask for a photo and shake my hand.”

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The local tourism office is expecting one million people to come into town over the 10 days of commemorations and celebrations this year.

Among them are the children and grandchildren of the Americans who were in charge on D-Day, from General Roosevelt Jr. to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander in chief of the Allied forces.

“I find I need to be here and be a part of it,” said Chloe Gavin, the daughter of General Gavin, who himself came back regularly before he died.

On a recent night, local families welcomed more than 200 American soldiers into their homes for dinner.

Across the street from city hall, where the American flag that soldiers hung up in 1944 now hangs framed on a wall, three generations of the Auvray family sat in their garden with three U.S. paratroopers from Puerto Rico. The family matriarch, Andrée Auvray, regaled them with her memories of D-Day.

She was nine months pregnant and living on a horse farm just outside town that had been requisitioned by a battalion of soldiers with the German army. Just days before the Allies’ landing, the soldiers departed for Cherbourg, France, convinced the Allies would attack there, she said.

“We were so lucky,” said Ms. Auvray, now 97 and a great-grandmother of 13. “It would have been a blood bath.”

Three American paratroopers landed in her garden.

An American military hospital was quickly erected next door. Her farm became the health clinic and a temporary home for civilians, fleeing the battle that ensued after German troops tried to retake Ste.-Mère-Église. They fed 120 people for a month. She gave birth to her son, Michel-Yves, on a camp bed because her bed had been given to the injured.

Michel-Yves will turn 80 soon.

Ms. Auvray described the missiles exploding nearby, the gnawing fear that the Germans would retake the town and her gratitude that they did not.

“We lived through such anguish together,” she said of the American soldiers and French residents. “That’s why we have such a precious relationship.”

In the West Bank, Guns and a Locked Gate Signal a Town’s New Residents

Ben Hubbard reported from two towns in the occupied West Bank, the Arab-Palestinian community of Tuqu and the Jewish-Israeli settlement of Tekoa.

From the outskirts of his town in the West Bank, the mayor surveyed the rocky hills stretching toward the Dead Sea where Palestinians had long farmed and herded, and pointed out the new features of the landscape.

New guard posts manned by Israeli soldiers. New roads patrolled by Israeli settlers. And, most tellingly, a new metal gate blocking the town’s sole road to those areas, installed and locked by the Israeli army to keep Palestinians out.

“Anyone who goes to the gate, they either arrest him or kill him,” said the mayor, Moussa al-Shaer, of the town of Tuqu.

On the other side of the gate, atop a bald hill in the distance, stood one of the area’s new residents, Abeer Izraeli, a Jewish settler.

“With God’s help, we will stay here a long time,” Mr. Izraeli said.

The case of the two people on either side of the gate is a particularly clear example of a dynamic playing out across the Israeli-occupied West Bank. As much of the world has focused on the war in Gaza, Jewish settlers miles away in the West Bank have hastened the rate at which they are seizing land previously used by Palestinians, rights groups say.

Dror Etkes, a field researcher with Kerem Navot, an Israeli monitoring group, estimated that since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that started the war in Gaza, settlers have taken more than 37,000 acres of land from Palestinians across the West Bank. More than 550 of those acres are near Tuqu, making it the largest such expansion by a single Israeli settlement.

The gate is not much to look at — made of orange bars and similar to what one might find on a farm. But Hebrew graffiti on the concrete blocks that hold it up refer to Genesis 21:10, a verse about driving people away.

Since the gate’s installation in October, it has served as a firm divider between the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of Tuqu and the Israeli Jews in the newly expanded settlement of Tekoa.


Map locates the West Bank villages of Tuqu and Tekoa.

Both communities draw their names from where, tradition holds, the biblical prophet Amos was born. In some places, homes in one community sit 500 yards from homes in the other. When the Muslim call to prayer sounds in Tuqu, the Jews in Tekoa hear it, too.

The catalyst for the recent seizures, said Mr. Etkes, was the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, which led to increased Israeli security measures in the West Bank that made it easier for settlers to take control of territory.

“There is a linkage between violence and settler expansion,” he said. “They are taking revenge on the Palestinians by taking more and more land.”

Israel increased its military presence in the West Bank out of concern that it could face widespread unrest or increased attacks on its forces and settlers there during the war in Gaza. Those concerns were amplified by the rise of new militant groups, an influx of weapons smuggled in by Iran and polling that suggests an increase in support for Hamas at the expense of the more moderate Palestinian Authority.

On Jan. 29, a Palestinian from Tuqu, Rani al-Shaer, 19, tried to stab an Israeli soldier and was shot dead by soldiers, the army said in a statement. The army took Mr. al-Shaer’s body and has not returned it to the family, said his brother, Nizar.

The Israeli military and the branch of the Defense Ministry that handles civilian affairs in the West Bank did not respond to requests for comment on the changes near Tuqu.

The United Nations said that 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since it began keeping track in 2005. That violence rose significantly after the war in Gaza began and has continued into this year, with 489 Palestinians killed since Oct. 7 as of May 22. Ten Israelis, including four civilians, have been killed during the same period.

Since Israel occupied the West Bank, previously controlled by Jordan, in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the government has encouraged Jews to settle there, providing land, military protection, electricity, water and roads. More than 500,000 settlers now live among 2.7 million Palestinians in the territory, which is larger than Delaware but smaller than Puerto Rico.

Some Israeli Jews justify settlement on religious grounds, others on the basis of history — both ancient and modern. Many Israelis consider control of the territory necessary to prevent Palestinians from attacking Israel.

Nevertheless, most countries consider the settlements illegal. The Biden administration has criticized the settlements for undermining the United States’ goal of a two-state solution to the conflict, which would include the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

Among Israelis, Tekoa is known for a hippy vibe, with a mixed community of secular and religious Jews that includes artists and activists. Few, if any, of the town’s residents consider their presence an impediment to peace.

“We were given this land by God,” said Shira Chernoble, 75, who moved from New Mexico to the West Bank nearly four decades ago and works in Tekoa as a massage therapist and spiritual counselor. “I believe in the Torah. It is not just a book of then. It is a book of now.”

Before the war in Gaza, the two populations had limited interactions, mostly through the Palestinian laborers who worked construction in the Jewish town. Settlers have seized land to expand their community over the decades — a process that took another leap forward after the Oct. 7 attack.

The Israeli military mobilized thousands of reservist settlers to protect the settlements and imposed wide-ranging restrictions on Palestinians, blocking the exits from their communities and barring Palestinian workers from entering Israel or the settlements.

That cut off residents of Tuqu from a major source of employment, said Mr. al-Shaer, the mayor. In addition, the gate has prevented Palestinian farmers from harvesting their olives and herders from grazing their livestock.

“They closed everything and took everything,” said Hassan al-Shaer, 24, an electrician who is not closely related to the mayor and who used to work in Tekoa. “There is no work and no money.”

In October, after the gate was erected, residents gathered to breach the barrier and the army shot at them, killing a 26-year-old car mechanic, Eissa Jibril, said his brother, Murad.

He said the Israeli police had questioned him about what happened, but nothing had come of it.

“Who can I complain to?” he said. “The settler who killed him, are they going to arrest him?”

In a statement, the Israeli military described the gathering as “a violent riot” during which “terrorists burned tires, threw stones and shot fireworks” at soldiers, threatening their lives. The soldiers fired back, the army said, adding that it was aware of the “claim” that a Palestinian had been killed.

Since then, the Palestinians have avoided the gate for fear of being shot.

During a recent drive through the area, New York Times reporters saw new roads carved into the hillsides, four new security posts and three plots where settlers had plowed or planted grapes. What had been a settler tent camp now had 10 prefab houses, with electricity, paved roads and streetlights.

Atop a tall hill, Mr. Izraeli and his friends slept in a tent next to a makeshift house inhabited by a couple with two young children. The group raised ducks and chickens and pastured their 150 sheep on the same hills the Palestinian shepherds had roamed before the war.

Mr. Izraeli, 16, had come to the West Bank after dropping out of a religious school in central Israel, he said. He and his friends had lived in a tent camp nearby before moving to the hilltop a few months ago, after the army had barred Palestinians from the area.

He hoped the army would not let them return.

“With God’s help, they will do the right thing and keep them out,” he said.

In response to written questions, Mayor Yaron Rosenthal of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, which includes Tekoa, said the Arabs from Tuqu never had a legal claim to the land. The settlers, he said, had rectified that situation.

“These aren’t their lands,” he added.

The Palestinians had few options, said Mr. al-Shaer, the mayor. Most complaints to the Israeli authorities went nowhere. He and other residents planned to file a court case in Israel, a long process that might not restore their access to the land or stop the settlers from building there.

“The settlers are working on the ground to make a new reality,” he said.

Rami Nazzal contributed reporting from Tuqu, West Bank, and Gabby Sobelman from Tekoa, West Bank.

‘Not Everything Was Bad’: Saluting the Mercedes of Eastern Europe and a Communist Past

As the beige car bounced up to the former Soviet barracks, the rattling of its half-century-old motor overpowered the din of people setting up for the day’s festivities at a temporary fairground.

A man dressed in the dark green uniform of a 1950s traffic cop, replete with an old-fashioned leather cap, blew his whistle sharply and waved the car — a well-maintained 1980 Wartburg, a classic despite the engine’s clatter — through to the parking lot.

The driver of the little sedan, once considered the Mercedes of Eastern Europe, slipped the clutch, jolting the car forward. The lapse earned a rebuke from a costumed parking attendant.

“You are entering the G.D.R. now,” he yelled with mock anger, referring to the extinct East German state. “Leave your Western manners behind!”

For more than a decade, the G.D.R. Museum Pirna has played host to a May Day event in Pirna, just a few miles from the Czech border in Germany’s east, where people can celebrate cars emblematic of the communist era.

Built after the war in state-owned factories, the cars are smaller, less powerful and less showy than most Western cars from the same era. But to the excited visitors in Pirna, who often dress in contemporaneous garb to match the vehicles they arrived in, the polished and pampered cars embody a local pride.

The hundreds of motorcycles, buses, trucks, cars and farming vehicles on display exuded the nostalgia that many here feel for a vanished country that — despite its oppressive dictatorship — was home for decades.

“As a proud Easterner, I’m happy to help revive this iconic car,” said Tom Grossmann, standing in front of his lime green 1985 Trabant, best remembered for a chassis made of a material similar to reinforced cardboard. “If it means that there are more of these cars on German roads, all the better.”

Born in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, Mr. Grossmann expressed a sentiment typical at the scene in Pirna.

For years, he had been dismissive of the old Eastern-built cars, but in middle age, his view changed. In part, he was drawn by the community that had developed among people who own the cars.

When he bought his sedan five years ago, he paid 3,000 euros, about $3,250, but then spent more than twice that refurbishing his ride, adding a sunroof, wider tires and custom upholstery.

Uwe Röckler, 23, neatly dressed in a G.D.R. police uniform from the 1980s, paraded past the lineup of cars giving out fake parking tickets and posing for photos with passers-by. Mr. Röckler is a stickler for details: The tickets he carefully filled out and pinned under wipers were written on an exact reproduction of the form used by East German police in the 1980s.

“It starts with a belt buckle that you find at a flea market,” he said. “And pretty soon, you’re wearing a full uniform,” he added, noting he had several spares hanging in his home closet.

To Mr. Röckler, whose parents toiled under the communist regime, the era holds a fascination. “Not everything was bad, it was just everyday life,” he said. Of the East German police, which many see as one of the most obvious manifestations of a repressive state, he said: “They were actually pretty good criminalists — in many ways equal to those in West.”

May 1 — formally known as the “International Day of Struggle of the Working Class and the Oppressed Peoples of the World” — was one of the most important dates on the socialist calendar. Though it was a public holiday and nobody had to work, attendance at state-organized parades was mandatory, and civilian brigades of factory workers, socialist youth groups and politicians were expected to march with signs celebrating progress and socialism.

Waiting in line to board a carefully maintained bus from 1958 that would take him on a tour of Pirna, Thomas Herzog, 62, remembers the requirements of that era well. “I’m here because no one is forcing me to be here,” he said with a laugh.

Among those in Pirna celebrating this May Day, 35 years after East Germans last celebrated it in a functioning communist state, many said the era had been rife with problems, including restrictions on speech and travel, with citizens living under the yoke of one of the most restrictive state security systems behind the Iron Curtain.

But as that time recedes into the past, memories of the communist country have become more attractive for many, especially as discontent with the current system grows.

According to a poll from December, 82 percent of Germans nationwide are at least somewhat unsatisfied with the government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Given that level of discontent, it’s unsurprising some people are looking backward.

In eastern Germany, where the disaffection is often more pronounced, many look toward the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, for solutions. In Pirna’s state, Saxony, where voters head to the polls in September, the AfD polls at 30 percent, more than any other party on the ballot.

Conny Kaden, 60, the founder of the G.D.R. Museum, said that despite the benefits reunification brought, there were downsides.

The socialist state, he noted, in addition to offering jobs at state-run enterprises, had fostered a sense of community through mandatory meetings in youth, worker and community clubs. “I’m not saying this is about raising the G.D.R. flag,” Mr. Kaden said. “But we lost something, we lost the cohesion.”

Mr. Kaden built his museum dedicated to all things G.D.R. in 2005 and said ticket sales have been trending up.

The May Day car meet has also become more popular. This year, he estimated he had welcomed up to 3,500 visitors and hundreds of cars, likely breaking last year’s record.

The meet featured some Western cars, too. Two custom stretch limousine Volvos, used by the East German regime’s leaders, were parked in a prominent corner. Over the enormous radio inside of one, a tape of police chatter illegally recorded in 1989 played on a loop.

Mr. Röckler, who played the fake policeman handing out fake tickets, grew up in what had been West Germany, where his family moved after they had lost their jobs following reunification. As an adult, he returned to the former East Germany, in part because he said his hobby of dressing up as a Communist policeman was misunderstood in the West.

He was not sure it would have been completely understood by his late father, either.

Gesturing to his carefully pressed suit, he said, “I wonder what my dad would say if he could see me wearing this.”

Amateur Historians Heard Tales of a Lost Tudor Palace. Then, They Dug It Up.

For generations, residents of Collyweston — a village in central England snuggled up against the River Welland — passed down stories of a grand Tudor palace, of royal processions through the valley below, of the mother of a king who had called it home.

Over hundreds of years, the stories persisted, even as memory of the palace’s whereabouts faded. But the lore suddenly came to life when a handful of amateur historians unearthed portions of the long-lost palace, buried under a few feet of soil. Historians from the University of York have verified their findings.

“We are a small village with a small group of enthusiasts, and what we’ve basically achieved here is nothing short of a miracle,” said Chris Close, 49, the chairman of the Collyweston Historical and Preservation Society. “You know, it’s not every day you get to dig up a part of your country’s past.”

Mr. Close, soft-spoken and warm with a dimpled smile, was raised in Collyweston, with family roots that go back 400 years here. He remembers hearing stories of the palace as a young boy. It belonged to Lady Margaret Beaufort, who played a major role in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars for the English throne. She acquired it in 1487, two years after her son was crowned king as Henry VII. He, his son Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I all walked the palace halls.

After the Tudor era, which ended in 1603, the palace fell into disrepair. Its contents were sold, portions knocked down or repurposed, and new buildings went up. The palace slowly faded into history, disappearing into the dirt. Almost.

Fast forward to 2017, when Mr. Close became chairman of the historical society — somewhat by chance. History had never been his passion, but he had promised his great-uncle, who once led the group, to help keep it going. A year after his great-uncle’s death, he made good on his promise.

Mr. Close — who, by day, works for a British company that builds new homes — took over the top job at the society at a precarious time. The group’s membership, then mostly retirees, had dwindled, and it had just 500 pounds, about $635, in the bank. Meetings were spent poring over old Collyweston records with little mission, and the few members were considering wrapping things up. Mr. Close knew he needed to inject some energy into the proceedings.

He shifted the society’s newsletter to email, from print. He set up social media accounts. And crucially, he asked members what they really wanted to focus on. The response was clear: They wanted to find the Tudor palace.

The villagers suspected that remnants were hidden under the soil, but with limited expertise and even less money, they did not have much to go on.

“It was our naiveté that’s kind of got us through this, really,” Mr. Close said with a chuckle.

First, they relied on what little they did know about the palace’s history — including local lore that had percolated for years.

Nowadays, Collyweston, population 564, is little more than a few pretty stone houses with picturesque views over sprawling fields. But glimpses of the royal history were visible to anyone who looked carefully, said Sandra Johnson, 68, a retired real estate agent who now does research full time for the historical society — as well as helping take care of her grandchildren.

She noted that local residents had long referred to a walled garden in the area as the “palace gardens,” and that some terraces and fish ponds could still be seen carved into the landscape.

“We knew it was here,” she said, a broad smile growing on her face. “It was just a question of getting the evidence to prove it.”

Over several months, the group trawled through old maps and records. That took them only so far.

Around that time, the group connected with Rachel Delman, now a historian at the University of Oxford who was then doing research on the palace. Her work provided detailed descriptions of palace buildings that she had found in various historical archives.

The research was “a little bit of a light that got shone into the project,” Mr. Close said.

But the amateur historians soon realized that archaeology had become a high-tech pursuit and that they needed to embrace technology, too. They applied for grants and got enough money to hire a company to do a drone survey and geophysical scan of the village. The growing buzz in Collyweston around their activities helped attract new members.

The real breakthrough came from ground-penetrating radar scans in 2021 and 2022 that revealed human-made material under the soil. This guided them on where to dig.

Last May, they found the first evidence of the palace walls: portions of the clearly defined base of a thick wall and a foundation that experts later verified.

The goal is to eventually find enough artifacts to analyze and date. The group hopes to create a digital model of the palace to be displayed in a tiny museum that Ms. Johnson curates in the nave of the village church.

While finds from this era are not particularly unusual in Britain, historians have hailed the discovery because of the significant role the palace played in its time — and because it was found by an amateur group.

Prof. Kate Giles, a historian at the University of York, pointed out that Britain has a wealth of local history societies but that in the case of Collyweston, “the fact that it has a Tudor palace on the doorstep makes its work particularly interesting and exciting.”

Dr. Delman, whose research helped kick-start the hunt, said the discovery had the potential to enrich public knowledge about a onetime royal power base, commissioned by a Tudor woman, “making it a site that is nationally and internationally significant.”

In early February, volunteers took out their shovels for a two-day dig, one of several planned this year, to better understand what the palace looked like.

Down a lane on a small patch of grass, a dozen residents — including young professionals, parents, a former prison guard and several retirees — dug in four small roped-off trenches under the watchful eye of Jennifer Browning, 50, an archaeologist from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services who was hired to lead the dig that day.

In one trench, dirt was carefully brushed from what appeared to be a flagstone floor and foundation stones. In another, part of a wall had begun to emerge.

“We just don’t know exactly what it is, but they are meant to be there,” Ms. Browning said, standing over a 3-foot-by-5-foot trench and pointing at three large stones in a neat line about two feet down. “The problem is, in a small trench like this, you only ever get a little snapshot.”

The excavations so far have been on private land, and although the site is considered a historical monument, under English law that doesn’t give the public a right to gain access to it. The group had permission from the property owners to explore with trenches and then refill, but they had a tight weekend-long window because the owners planned to soon pave over this grassy stretch.

“It’s just interesting to see how this will all piece together,” said James Mabbitt, 42, a volunteer who has lived in Collyweston for the past decade, as he stood in a trench, measuring stones possibly from Tudor times.

His wife, Melissa, 43, and their young daughter wandered by, along with other villagers curious about the work. “For a tiny place, it’s got this amazing history,” Ms. Mabbitt said, excitement in her voice. She noted that ancient Roman ruins had also recently been found nearby. “I think it has captured the local community spirit.”

By late afternoon, the volunteers paused for snacks and cups of tea as they chatted about their finds. Mr. Close congratulated them on uncovering the “clearest evidence to date” of palace buildings.

“I’ve been asked, ‘Why do you get involved in something like this?’” he said. “Look, one day, when everybody departs this world, you can say that you helped to find a Tudor palace.”

When a Tale of Migration Is Not Just Fiction

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Reporting from a movie screening in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, Senegal.

The two teenagers on the screen trudging through the endless dunes of the Sahara on their way to Europe were actors. So were the fellow migrants tortured in a bloodstained Libyan prison.

But to the young man watching the movie one recent evening in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, the cinematic ordeal felt all too real. His two brothers had undertaken the same journey years ago.

“This is why they refused to send me money to take that route,” said Ahmadou Diallo, 18, a street cleaner. “Because they had seen firsthand how dangerous it is.”

Critics in the West have praised the film “Io Capitano” — nominated for the 2024 Academy Award for best international feature film — noting its visceral yet tender look at migration to Europe from Africa. It is now showing in African countries, and is hitting close to home in Senegal. That’s where the two main characters in the movie embark on an odyssey that epitomizes the dreams and hardships of countless more hoping to make it abroad.

Last month, the film’s crew and its director, Matteo Garrone, took “Io Capitano” to a dozen places in Senegal where migration isn’t fiction. They screened it in youth centers, in schools, even on a basketball court turned outdoor movie theater in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, where Mr. Diallo and hundreds of others watched it at sunset on a big screen.

“Io Capitano” tells the story of Seydou and Moussa, two endearing cousins who leave Dakar after months of planning, spending all of the savings they earned through straining work on a construction site.

But what begins as an exciting road trip quickly turns into a perilous expedition as the teenagers find themselves in the hands of careless smugglers, then under the control of armed robbers and cruel jailers, before they reach the deadliest step of their travels, the crossing of the Mediterranean.

Seydou, the lead character, ends up captaining the ship taking them and hundreds of other migrants to Italy. The movie never shows them reaching the shore, but when a helicopter from the Italian coast guard hovers over the boat, the viewer is tempted to believe that they will be rescued and that part of their troubles are over.

On the basketball court, some gasped in horror when bandits opened fire on a group of migrants on the screen. Others hid their eyes with their head scarves during scenes of torture.

“People know there’s a risk to lose their lives” in seeking to migrate to Europe, Mr. Garrone said. “But they haven’t seen what it’s like.”

Senegal’s youth make up the majority of its 17 million people, but its fast-growing economy has struggled to offer them jobs with decent pay. Thousands leave every year through the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean, and deadly accidents are frequent. Increasingly, those who can afford it fly to Central America, hoping to reach the United States that way.

Senegal’s new president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, has promised to improve the economy by financing small businesses and strengthening traineeships in farming, fishing and industrial jobs. Natural gas and oil reserves are expected to turn the tiny coastal country into a hydrocarbon power in Africa.

But in Guédiawaye, where newly built houses sit on sandy streets next to crumbling shelters filled with flies and no access to running water, many young men said they weren’t expecting major changes.

Mr. Diallo, the street cleaner, said he wanted to join his brothers in Paris. He showed videos on his phone of himself and dozens of others in the Atlantic last summer, during one of his two previous — and unsuccessful — attempts to reach Europe.

A few feet away, Barra Gassama, 18, watched “Io Capitano” with sometimes teary eyes. A decade ago, he said, he picked up the phone at home to hear from a stranger that his older brother had died on his way to Spain. “That call changed our lives,” he said in a whisper. “This reminds me so much of him,” he added, staring at the screen.

Despite his brother’s death, Mr. Gassama’s mother later encouraged him to try to leave, too. But he said he had instead chosen to try to make it at home, working hard as a baker, earning up to $6 a day, six days a week.

In the movie, Seydou and Moussa leave Dakar without telling their families. But some of those watching the film said they were having open conversations with their relatives about migration.

Pape Alioune Ngom, 18, a welder, said a few hours before the screening that he was trying to persuade his parents to let him go to Europe. He swore that he wouldn’t leave without their blessing. “What’s there for us here?” he asked. “We all have migration in mind.”

Studies have shown that people aspiring to migrate often ignore warnings about the dangers of trying to enter countries illegally. But Mr. Garrone, the director, said the movie wasn’t intended to persuade people not to undertake the trip.

“I’m mostly hoping to help young people in Senegal realize that once they’ve left their home, they become part of a system that they can’t really get out of,” he said.

To depict the system of smugglers and exploitation, Mr. Garrone worked with Mamadou Kouassi, a social worker now working with migrants in Italy, who spent three and a half years trying to reach Europe from his native Ivory Coast. Mr. Kouassi’s experiences inspired most of Seydou’s and Moussa’s story line in the movie.

Mr. Kouassi also attended the screening, where he stared at the spectators who were laughing at the two young heroes trying to hide cash inside their bodies before beginning their trek through the Sahara.

“They have no idea how Europe and Italy are treating us on the other side,” Mr. Kouassi said.

The first tragedy in the movie followed shortly after, when a migrant fell off a pickup truck and the driver kept racing in the desert, to the horror of the other passengers grabbing onto wooden sticks to avoid meeting the same fate.

The audience fell silent.

Seydou Sarr, 19, and Moustapha Fall, 20, the two actors who play the cousins in the movie, have been touring film festivals in the West, wearing designer clothes at the Oscars and chilling in luxury hotels across Europe, a world away from the lives in Senegal they themselves left a few years ago. Their journey was a little different; they were cast in the film in Dakar, and later moved to Italy, where Mr. Garrone lives.

Mr. Sarr, who won the best young actor award at the Venice Film Festival, said he wanted to continue acting.

For now, they both live in Rome with Mr. Garrone’s mother, and Mr. Garrone said he worried about them. “They get up at 3 p.m., and my mother does the cooking and everything for them,” he said. “They’re kids.”

After the screening, Ndeye Khady Sy, the actress starring as Seydou’s mother, urged the audience to stay in Senegal. “You can succeed here,” she said.

But Mr. Ngom, the welder, had left the basketball grounds.

So had Mr. Diallo, the street cleaner, who said he would try reaching Europe for the third time this summer.

From the I.R.A. to the Principal’s Office, a Life’s Evolution Echoes Belfast’s

Jim McCann, the vice principal of St. Joseph’s Primary School, made his way through the hallways, pointing like a proud father to the colorful paper butterflies crafted by his students that hung from the ceiling.

He cheerfully greeted each child by name as he passed them. Then he stuck his head into a classroom, where the students addressed him in unison, “Good afternoon, Mr. McCann!”

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Meet the One Man Everyone Trusts on U.K. Election Nights

When Britain votes in a general election on July 4, one person will likely know the outcome before anyone else.

John Curtice, a professor of political science at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will spend Election Day with his team, honing the findings of a national exit poll. At 10 p.m., before any results have been counted, he will make a big, bold prediction that will be announced on national television: the winner.

“The lovely thing about the period between 10 o’clock and 11.30 p.m. is that nobody knows!” said Professor Curtice with a grin, raising his hands into the air. “It’s that moment when we don’t really have a government.”

While he is right that no one will know the final tally until results roll in from Britain’s 650 constituencies, in the past six general elections his team’s exit poll has proved strikingly accurate, correctly predicting the largest party every time. In five of the six, the margin of error for that forecast was five parliamentary seats or fewer.

That record is part of what has made this 70-year-old professor, with his formidable intellect, unruly tufts of white hair and infectious enthusiasm, an unlikely media star. But his beloved status in Britain goes deeper. He’s frank and scrupulously nonpartisan, making him a rarity in an age of polarization — a trusted source of information across the political spectrum.

“I try to speak in human. I am trying to speak in ways that the general public will understand,” he told The New York Times over a frugal tuna sandwich lunch in the atrium beneath the BBC’s Westminster studios.

“Sometimes I kick one party and other times I kick the other,” he said. “And usually I kick both of them.”

In February, as broadcasters awaited the results of special elections in two parliamentary districts, Professor Curtice was in front of the TV lights at 10 p.m. as a BBC News producer adjusted his earpiece.

His analysis was characteristically fluent, as were the 20 or so other interviews he completed through a night of TV appearances that stretched into breakfast time the following day.

Fueled by coffee and a bowl of porridge consumed around 6 a.m. in the BBC cafeteria, he then strode off to the broadcaster’s radio studios, continuing a media blitz that ended at 4 p.m. It was an exhausting, exhilarating stint of 18 hours.

“You don’t have time to think about going to sleep — it’s adrenaline, it’s intellectual excitement, it’s an intellectual challenge,” he said.

He comes prepared, however, his laptop brimming with data from previous elections, records that may or may not be broken, and his thinking for how he can summarize the most likely scenarios.

Professor Curtice’s first political memory is of the election of Harold Wilson as leader of the opposition Labour Party in 1963. He was 9 years old. A year later, he was allowed to stay up late on general election night, when Mr. Wilson won a small majority, bringing Labour to power for the first time in 13 years.

“Don’t ask me why, I just found it interesting,” he said.

He was raised in Cornwall, on the rugged coastline of southwest England. His father worked in construction, his mother a part-time market researcher and the family was prosperous enough to own a detached house with a large garden (but no central heating).

At Oxford University, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics, Professor Curtice was a contemporary of Tony Blair, who went on to become prime minister, but their paths did not cross. While Mr. Blair played in a rock band called Ugly Rumours, a young Professor Curtice was a choral scholar who spent two hours a day at evensong.

As a postgraduate, he was urged to become “statistically literate” by his mentor, David Butler, a towering figure in British political science who ran the nation’s first exit poll in 1970.

His first TV election night appearance was in 1979, the night Margaret Thatcher came to power. Armed with a calculator he had programmed himself, he provided Professor Butler with statistical backup in case the BBC’s mainframe computer went down.

It was exit polls, however, that really made Prof. Curtice’s name. His first involvement was in 1992, which he later told The Guardian was “not a happy experience” because the poll predicted a hung Parliament instead of the modest majority of 21 that John Major won for the Conservatives.

Since 2001, a new model he created with David Firth, another academic, has improved the accuracy of the forecasts, sometimes to the discomfort of politicians. In 2015, Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, promised to eat his hat if the exit poll prediction that his party would retain only 10 of its nearly 60 seats proved correct. In fact it won fewer. On a TV show the following night, Mr. Ashdown was handed a hat-shaped chocolate cake.

These days, the exit poll is jointly commissioned by three national broadcasters — the BBC, ITV and Sky News. On July 4, tens of thousands of voters around the country will be handed a mock ballot paper on their way out of polling stations and asked to mark in private how they voted.

In 2017, the poll correctly predicted that, instead of increasing her majority in Parliament, as she and many analysts expected, Theresa May had lost it. In 2019, the projected size of Boris Johnson’s majority was off by just three seats.

Professor Curtice is not complacent, however, and notes that upsets are always possible — as in 2015, when the exit poll projected a hung Parliament, but David Cameron scraped a thin majority. “People think there is some magic, but we are only as good as the data,” Professor Curtice said.

Exit polls are trickiest when elections are close. This time, the Conservative Party, which has held power for 14 years, has lagged the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls by about 20 points for 18 months. While such leads usually narrow in the final weeks of a campaign, the Conservatives would need to make modern electoral history to win.

Professor Curtice puts their chances of forming the next government at less than 5 percent — “the point at which statisticians go: it’s very, very highly improbable.” He adds that this is partly because, even if the Conservatives beat expectations and the outcome is a hung Parliament, they lack allies who would keep them in power as a minority government.

Honored with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, Professor Curtice is now famous enough that strangers greet him in the street. His name trends on social media on election nights, and there’s a tribute account on X dedicated to tracking his media appearances called, “Is Sir John Curtice On TV?” (Right now, the answer is often “Yes.”)

Could this be his last general election TV appearance? That, he said, is something he will consider after the vote. “If the next election is in five years, I will be 75, and who knows?”

He has other interests: a passion for classical music, church, family and tending a community garden in Glasgow.

But for now, the country needs him. “There are a lot of experts who know a lot but can’t translate that in a way that is clear to the audience,” said BBC News anchor Nicky Schiller after interviewing Professor Curtice on the night of the February special elections. And, he added, “He’s a joy to work with.”

The Architect Who Made Singapore’s Public Housing the Envy of the World

The high-rise apartments — some with panoramic views of Singapore’s tropical cityscape — are airy, light-filled and spacious enough to comfortably raise a family. They are also public housing units, and for decades, were emphatically affordable, giving Singapore an enviable rate of homeownership.

Now, however, at least a few of the apartments are being sold at a price that would have been unthinkable not long ago: more than $1 million.

“I’m sad to see that — because public housing must equal affordability,” said Liu Thai Ker, the urban planner who gets much of the credit for creating the country’s widely lauded approach to housing its citizens.

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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.

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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.”

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The Capital of Women’s Soccer

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A little more than an hour before the game begins, the gates outside the Johan Cruyff Stadium swing open and a thousand or so fans rush inside. Some scurry to the turnstiles. Others wait patiently at the merchandise stalls, anxious to buy a jersey, a scarf, a commemorative trinket.

The busiest and longest line, though, forms outside a booth offering fans the chance to have a photo taken with their heroes. Within a couple of minutes, it snakes all the way back to the entrance, populated by doting parents and spellbound preteens hoping they arrived in time.

They have come to see the most dominant women’s soccer team on the planet. Barcelona Femení has been Spanish champion every year since 2019. It has not lost a league game since last May, a run during which eight of its players also lifted the Women’s World Cup. On Saturday, the team can win its third Women’s Champions League title, which crowns the best professional team in Europe, in four seasons.

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The Premier League’s Asterisk Season

With five minutes left in his team’s penultimate game of the Premier League season, Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola found the tension just a little too much. As a rival striker bore down on his team’s goal, Guardiola — crouching on his haunches on the sideline — lost his balance and toppled over onto his back.

Lying on the grass and expecting the worst, he missed what may yet prove to be the pivotal moment in the Premier League’s most enthralling title race in a decade.

But the striker did not score. His effort was parried by goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, sending Manchester City above its title rival Arsenal in the standings and positioning it, if it can win again on Sunday, to become the first English team to win four consecutive championships.

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Soccer’s Governing Body Delays Vote on Palestinian Call to Bar Israel

FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, on Friday postponed a decision to temporarily suspend Israel over its actions during the conflict in Gaza, and in the West Bank, saying it needed to solicit legal advice before taking up a motion submitted by the Palestinian Football Association.

The motion calling for Israel’s suspension referred to “international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza,” and cited violations of FIFA’s human rights and discrimination statutes.

Responding to emotionally charged addresses at FIFA’s annual congress by the head of the Palestinian soccer body, Jibril Rajoub, FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, said the urgency of the situation meant he would convene an extraordinary meeting of FIFA’s top board on July 25.

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Scandal Brought Reforms to Soccer. Its Leaders Are Rolling Them Back.

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The 12-page report was intended to save soccer’s governing body, FIFA, in its moment of existential crisis.

Filled with reform proposals and drawn up by more than a dozen soccer insiders in December 2015, the report was FIFA’s best chance to show business partners, U.S. investigators and billions of fans that it could be trusted again after one of the biggest corruption scandals in sports history.

In bullet points and numbered sections, the report championed high-minded ideas like accountability and humility. It also proposed concrete and, for FIFA, revolutionary changes: transparency in how major decisions were reached; term limits for top leaders and new limits on presidential power; and the abolition of well-funded committees widely viewed as a system of institutional graft.

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Ahead of Olympics, World Anti-Doping Agency Faces a Trust Crisis

Two months before the Olympics are scheduled to begin in Paris, the global agency tasked with policing doping in sports is facing a growing crisis as it fends off allegations it helped cover up the positive tests of elite Chinese swimmers who went on to compete — and win medals — at the last Summer Games.

The allegations are particularly vexing for the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has long billed itself as the gold standard in the worldwide movement for clean sports, because they raise the specter that the agency — and by extension the entire system set up to try to keep the Olympics clean — cannot be trusted.

Athletes are openly questioning whether WADA can be relied upon to do its core job of ensuring there will be a level playing field in Paris, where some of the same Chinese swimmers are favorites to win more medals.

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Los efectos de la guerra en Ucrania en los pueblos fronterizos, en imágenes

Durante mucho tiempo, el área fronteriza de Ucrania ha sido un lugar donde las culturas se fusionan e intercambian. Hoy, nuevamente, es una zona de combate.

Tras pérdidas incesantes, se está transformando, posiblemente para siempre, en una zona gris peligrosa y abandonada.

Lo que solía ser un estilo de vida, y de fe, compartido, está mermando.

Para los pocos que quedan, conseguir incluso los insumos cotidianos para vivir es una tarea de riesgo.

Los efectos de la guerra en Ucrania en los pueblos fronterizos, en imágenes

David Guttenfelder viajó dos veces por la frontera noreste de Ucrania en los meses previos a que las tropas rusas volvieran a cruzar.

Read in English

Los invasores no habían regresado. No todavía. Pero a lo largo de los aproximadamente 960 kilómetros del territorio fronterizo del noreste de Ucrania que The New York Times visitó a finales del año pasado y de nuevo a principios de la primavera, la guerra nunca se ha ido.

Gran parte de esta zona, en las regiones de Járkov y Sumy, solía estar cubierta de tierras agrícolas. Ahora, una granja albergaba una unidad antisabotaje —compuesta por rusos anti-Putin, para evitar el envío de tropas ucranianas a Rusia— que se preparaba antes del amanecer para una incursión transfronteriza.

Los campos están demasiado expuestos al fuego ruso como para que alguien intente cosechar. En su lugar, están repletas de “dientes de dragón”, barreras antitanques de hormigón típicamente unidas con cables y enhebradas con alambre de púas.

En 2022, las tropas rusas invadieron esta zona y casi llegaron a las puertas de ciudades grandes como Járkov y Sumy. Luego, antes de finalizar ese año, las fuerzas ucranianas los obligaron a retroceder y a cruzar de nuevo la frontera a su país.

Los militares rusos comenzaron una nueva ofensiva en la región de Járkov el mes pasado. Pero estas localidades, que se encuentran a menos de 16 kilómetros de la frontera, siempre estuvieron al alcance del fuego de artillería.

Las alarmas no pueden dar suficiente tiempo de advertencia para un bombardeo desde tan cerca, y las defensas aéreas no pueden repelerlo. Los residentes dependen de las entregas de ayuda humanitaria, y la larga y fría espera por los suministros se produce bajo bombardeos casi diarios.

Los bombardeos y los ataques con drones ya se estaban intensificando antes incluso de la nueva ofensiva terrestre.

Además, las fuerzas militares ucranianas ya estaban transformando el entorno: nuevos laberintos de trincheras y búnkeres, más zonas restringidas y vastos campos y bosques repletos de minas terrestres. En los puestos de control, soldados nerviosos pilotaban drones para escanear las carreteras aledañas.

En poco tiempo, aseguró el alcalde de una aldea que se encuentra dentro del alcance de la artillería rusa, no habrá nada que fotografiar excepto perros callejeros y escombros.

El gobierno civil ha tenido problemas para proporcionar suministros y necesidades básicas o para convencer a los residentes de que evacúen por completo. Las escuelas enseñan de forma remota o en búnkeres subterráneos.

La guerra está provocando cambios radicales en una zona donde las familias suelen tener integrantes tanto en Rusia como en Ucrania y donde una fe y una cultura en común se extiende a través de la frontera. Incluso ahora, sigue abierto un cruce fronterizo para los civiles en la región de Sumy.

En la aldea de Richky, a unos 10 kilómetros de la frontera rusa en la región de Sumy, el padre Bohdan de la Iglesia ortodoxa ucraniana afirmó que tras un incremento de los ataques rusos, muy pocas personas podían asistir a la iglesia. Ahora “es solo en las festividades, como la Pascua, que la iglesia está llena”, dijo.

Sus dos hijos se mudaron a Polonia con sus familias antes de que empezara la guerra a gran escala en febrero de 2022. Bohdan y su esposa han resistido el impulso de mudarse al extranjero también.

“Es mi pueblo natal”, afirmó. “¿Cómo podría irme a otro lado?”.

En algunas ciudades y pueblos solo quedaban unas pocas personas, en su mayoría mujeres y personas mayores que no tenían adónde ir. Vovchansk, que se convirtió nuevamente en un campo de batalla en mayo después de que las fuerzas rusas cruzaron la frontera en la región de Járkov, tenía alrededor de 2000 residentes en diciembre, mucho menos que su población antes de la guerra de alrededor de 17.000. Se había deteriorado visiblemente en la primavera.

Las cicatrices de la invasión y los bombardeos habían hecho inhabitables algunos asentamientos recuperados.

La nueva ofensiva de Rusia en Járkov comenzó en el momento quizás más vulnerable de Ucrania desde el inicio de la guerra a gran escala: con sus fuerzas muy dispersas y sus reservas de armas y municiones agotadas después de meses de retraso por parte de su proveedor más importante, Estados Unidos.

Ahora, viene en camino más ayuda estadounidense y el Parlamento de Ucrania ha modificado las reglas de reclutamiento militar para intentar tener más soldados. Pero Rusia parece estar intensificando la presión.

Los funcionarios ucranianos, al mismo tiempo que su reciente petición de tener mayor libertad para disparar armas de fabricación estadounidense en territorio ruso, han señalado una mayor concentración de tropas, incluso justo enfrente de la región de Sumy.

Las zonas fronterizas de Ucrania podrían estar a punto de volverse aún más peligrosas.

Yurii Shyvala, Dzvinka Pinchuk y Oleksandr Chubko colaboraron con reportería.

Los presidentes mexicanos solo tienen un mandato. ¿Es bueno para la democracia?

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El actual presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador —conocido habitualmente por sus iniciales, AMLO—, es tan popular que casi con toda seguridad habría ganado otro mandato si su nombre hubiera estado en la boleta el pasado domingo.

Pero la Constitución mexicana establece un límite estricto de un sexenio para los presidentes. Así que, en su lugar, Claudia Sheinbaum, una científica ambiental y ex jefa de gobierno de Ciudad de México a quien López Obrador ungió como su sucesora, se postuló y logró una victoria aplastante.

Los límites presidenciales de un solo mandato son relativamente raros. Muchos países, como Estados Unidos y Francia, permiten dos mandatos. En sistemas parlamentarios como los del Reino Unido, España y Canadá, no hay límites de mandatos: los primeros ministros son elegidos técnicamente por su partido, no por los votantes (aunque los funcionarios del partido que los eligen suelen ser elegidos por los electores), y pueden permanecer en el cargo mientras los jefes de su partido, el gobierno y sus colegas parlamentarios les apoyen.

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

Los inconvenientes de un límite de un mandato son bastante obvios: un presidente electo puede estar empezando a implementar un ambicioso objetivo político a largo plazo o cambios estructurales. Abandonar el cargo después de un mandato puede significar que un trabajo importante quede incompleto o que sea fácilmente suspendido por un sucesor.

Algunos podrían argumentar que el concepto de limitar los mandatos es antidemocrático. Al fin y al cabo, su objetivo es impedir que los ciudadanos elijan a su primer candidato si ya ha ocupado el cargo durante el tiempo máximo permitido.

Entonces, ¿por qué los votantes no pueden elegir por sí mismos?

La respuesta, según los expertos, está en el delicado equilibrio necesario para proteger a la democracia de sí misma.

Los límites a los mandatos pueden proteger contra las fuerzas que, de otro modo, harían a los sistemas presidenciales vulnerables al retroceso democrático o a la autocracia. Y no existe una solución única: algunos países pueden beneficiarse más de límites de mandato más cortos si, por ejemplo, tienen altos niveles de corrupción o una historia reciente de dictadura.

A lo largo de muchos años de conversaciones con expertos que estudian el retroceso democrático, he oído a menudo un consejo aparentemente extraño: si se quiere proteger la democracia, es mejor no tener demasiada.

Lo sé, suena paradójico. Pero los sistemas democráticos necesitan algo más que la elección de los votantes para ser estables. También necesitan controles y equilibrios para evitar que una persona o partido acumule demasiado poder, e instituciones que puedan hacer que el sistema funcione.

Por ejemplo, los referendos. A menudo se presentan como la forma más pura de democracia, pero los politólogos han descubierto que pueden subvertirla en vez de defenderla. Como los votantes suelen tener relativamente poca experiencia o información, los referendos suelen poner el poder en manos de élites que pueden moldear las narrativas de los medios de comunicación. Y las votaciones directas tienden a ser volátiles, dependiendo de sentimientos partidistas no relacionados.

Las consecuencias del referendo sobre el brexit, en torno al cual abundó la desinformación, confirman esta crítica. Ahora, el 56 por ciento de los británicos dicen que votar a favor de abandonar la Unión Europea fue un error, y solo el 9 por ciento considera que el brexit fue un éxito, según una encuesta reciente de YouGov.

Así que, aunque la elección de voto sin restricciones, ya sea para una medida política o para un presidente, pueda parecer la opción democrática más pura, no siempre es la mejor. Es posible que los votantes no se den cuenta de que reelegir a los presidentes para varios mandatos podría permitirles afianzar su poder y, en última instancia, socavar la democracia a largo plazo. Los límites a los mandatos incorporan protecciones automáticas al sistema.

Durante la llamada “tercera ola” de democratización a fines del siglo XX, los países que salían del autoritarismo —incluidos muchos de América Latina— redactaron nuevas constituciones para consagrar las normas democráticas, que a menudo incluían la limitación de mandatos.

Representaban “un importante control del poder ejecutivo para garantizar que esos regímenes autoritarios no pudieran resurgir”, dijo Kristin McKie, politóloga de la Universidad St. Lawrence de Nueva York.

La limitación del mandato presidencial en México se remonta a más de un siglo, a la revolución que puso fin al Porfiriato, un régimen dictatorial liderado por Porfirio Díaz, quien gobernó México durante casi 30 años.

“La prolongada permanencia de Díaz en el poder fue una de las causas de la Revolución mexicana”, dijo Mariano Sánchez-Talanquer, politólogo de El Colegio de México. “‘Sufragio efectivo, no reelección’ fue uno de los gritos de guerra de la revolución”.

La revolución de 1910 no trajo la democracia, sino que dio paso a uno de los regímenes autoritarios de partido único más largos de la historia. Los gobiernos de aquella época seguían respetando la letra de la ley en materia de reelección: los presidentes ocupaban el cargo durante seis años y luego entregaban el poder a un sucesor elegido que “ganaba” unas elecciones no competitivas.

Esa tradición significó que cuando México finalmente hizo la transición a la democracia al final del siglo XX, la prohibición de la reelección presidencial era una norma sólida. Intentar evadirla o cambiarla habría sido tabú, incluso para un presidente popular como AMLO.

Varios expertos me dijeron que el límite de un mandato en México era algo positivo, en especial porque sus mandatos presidenciales, de seis años, ya son bastante largos.

“La fuerza de la regla de no reelección en México ayuda a proteger al país contra la ruptura democrática”, dijo Sánchez-Talanquer.

Steven Levitsky, politólogo de Harvard y coautor de Cómo mueren las democracias, se mostró de acuerdo. “Para una democracia nueva, o una democracia frágil, la rotación en el poder es crítica”, dijo. Y agregó: “Otro sexenio de AMLO, creo, habría sido muy peligroso”.

En otros países latinoamericanos, como Venezuela, desmantelar o eludir los límites de mandatos ha sido una táctica eficaz para líderes populistas que llegan al poder democráticamente, solo para socavar la democracia una vez en el cargo.

Y si un límite de mandato se ignora una vez, probablemente se ignorará de nuevo. Cuanto más tiempo permanezcan los presidentes en el poder, más oportunidades tendrán de llenar los tribunales de aliados que aprueben su agenda.

Estos efectos son aún más significativos en países con altos niveles de corrupción y en los que los políticos intercambian beneficios materiales, como empleos o contratos públicos, por apoyo político. Un mandato más largo significa más tiempo para crear redes de clientelismo que refuercen el poder personal.

Curiosamente, la limitación de mandatos no parece ser tan importante para los legisladores. Para ellos, la experiencia es muy valiosa, afirma McKie, y la limitación de mandatos puede restar eficacia a los órganos legislativos en la formulación de políticas. Dado que el poder legislativo debe ejercerse en colaboración, hay menos riesgo de que un solo miembro de un congreso o parlamento consiga la autoridad suficiente para desmantelar la democracia.

Sin embargo, ni siquiera el límite de mandatos presidenciales es una solución milagrosa para proteger la democracia. En México, “hay nubes en el horizonte”, dijo Sánchez-Talanquer. Sheinbaum ha prometido apoyar el paquete de cambios constitucionales propuesto por AMLO, que concentraría más poder en la presidencia debilitando a los partidos de la oposición y convirtiendo a jueces y autoridades electorales en cargos electos sujetos a votación popular. Los jueces y funcionarios electos suelen ser un control menos eficaz de los otros poderes del Estado, sobre todo cuando los políticos a los que deben controlar son de su propio partido o gozan de gran popularidad entre el público.

Y aunque AMLO dejará formalmente el cargo al final de su mandato, queda por ver cuánta influencia podría tener sobre Sheinbaum.

Amanda Taub es autora de The Interpreter, una columna y boletín que explica los sucesos internacionales. Reside en Londres. Más de Amanda Taub

Más de 400.000 personas sin electricidad en Santiago de Chile

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Los proveedores de electricidad en Santiago, la capital de Chile, se apresuraron a restablecer el servicio temprano el jueves después de un corte que dejó a cientos de miles de clientes sin energía, dijeron las autoridades.

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Alrededor de la medianoche, un árbol cayó sobre una torre de transmisión de alta tensión propiedad de una empresa privada, dijo en un comunicado el Servicio Nacional de Prevención y Respuesta ante Desastres de Chile. Enel Distribución, la empresa distribuidora de electricidad del país, también confirmó el corte. La torre dañada se encuentra en la zona sureste de la ciudad.

El apagón provocó una pérdida equivalente a alrededor del 10 por ciento de la demanda de energía de Santiago, o 260 megavatios, dijo el Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional, el operador de la red, en un comunicado. La energía se cortó en cuatro subestaciones en el sureste de Santiago, dijo.

Videos en las redes sociales mostraron una gran parte de la ciudad sumida en la oscuridad poco después de la medianoche. Al menos 428.000 clientes en varias partes de la ciudad, o alrededor del 6 por ciento de la población del área metropolitana de Santiago, estaban sin electricidad, dijo el Servicio Nacional de Prevención y Respuesta ante Desastres de Chile en otro comunicado.

Enel Distribución dijo que estaba trabajando con las empresas de transmisión para restablecer la energía.

Noticia en desarrollo.


John Yoon es un reportero del Times afincado en Seúl que cubre noticias de última hora y de tendencia. Más de John Yoon

Israel organizó una campaña de influencia secreta sobre la guerra en Gaza

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Israel organizó y pagó el año pasado una campaña de influencia dirigida a los legisladores y al público estadounidense con mensajes a favor de Israel, con el objetivo de fomentar el apoyo a sus acciones en la guerra contra Gaza, según funcionarios implicados en el esfuerzo y documentos relacionados con la operación.

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La campaña encubierta fue encargada por el Ministerio de Asuntos de la Diáspora de Israel, un organismo gubernamental que conecta a las personas judías de todo el mundo con el Estado de Israel, dijeron cuatro funcionarios israelíes. El ministerio asignó unos 2 millones de dólares a la operación y contrató a Stoic, una empresa de marketing político de Tel Aviv, para llevarla a cabo, según los funcionarios y los documentos.

La campaña comenzó en octubre y sigue activa en la plataforma X. En su punto álgido, utilizó cientos de cuentas falsas que se hacían pasar por estadounidenses reales en X, Facebook e Instagram para publicar comentarios a favor de Israel. Las cuentas se centraban en legisladores de EE. UU., especialmente quienes son personas negras y demócratas, como el representante Hakeem Jeffries, líder de la minoría en la Cámara de Representantes de Nueva York, y el senador Raphael Warnock, de Georgia, con mensajes que los instaban a seguir financiando el ejército de Israel.

Para generar muchos de los mensajes se utilizó ChatGPT, un chatbot dotado por la inteligencia artificial. La campaña también creó tres sitios falsos de noticias en inglés con artículos proisraelíes.

La conexión del gobierno israelí con la operación de influencia, que The New York Times verificó con cuatro miembros actuales y anteriores del Ministerio de Asuntos de la Diáspora y documentos sobre la campaña, no se había reportado anteriormente. FakeReporter, un organismo israelí de vigilancia de la desinformación, identificó la operación en marzo. La semana pasada, Meta, propietaria de Facebook e Instagram, y OpenAI, que fabrica ChatGPT, dijeron que también habían descubierto y desbaratado la operación.

Esta campaña secreta pone de manifiesto hasta dónde está dispuesto a llegar Israel para influir en la opinión estadounidense sobre la guerra en Gaza. Estados Unidos ha sido durante mucho tiempo uno de los aliados más firmes de Israel, y el presidente Joe Biden firmó recientemente un paquete de ayuda militar de 15.000 millones de dólares para el país. Pero el conflicto ha sido impopular entre muchos estadounidenses, quienes han pedido a Biden que retire su apoyo a Israel ante la creciente muerte de civiles en Gaza.

La operación es el primer caso documentado del gobierno israelí organizando una campaña para influir en el gobierno de EE. UU., según los expertos en redes sociales. Aunque las campañas coordinadas con apoyo gubernamental no son infrecuentes, suelen ser difíciles de demostrar. Se cree que Irán, Corea del Norte, China, Rusia y Estados Unidos respaldan iniciativas similares en todo el mundo, pero a menudo enmascaran su participación subcontratando el trabajo a empresas privadas o dirigiéndolas a través de un tercer país.

“El papel de Israel en esto es imprudente y probablemente ineficaz”, dijo Achiya Schatz, director ejecutivo de FakeReporter. Que Israel “dirigiera una operación que interfiere en la política de EE. UU. es extremadamente irresponsable”.

El Ministerio de Asuntos de la Diáspora de Israel negó su implicación en la campaña y dijo que no tenía ninguna relación con Stoic. Stoic no respondió a las peticiones de comentarios.

La campaña no tuvo un impacto generalizado, dijeron Meta y OpenAI la semana pasada. Según FakeReporter, las cuentas falsas acumularon más de 40.000 seguidores en X, Facebook e Instagram. Pero muchos de esos seguidores pueden haber sido bots y no generaron una gran audiencia, dijo Meta.

La operación comenzó a las pocas semanas del inicio de la guerra, en octubre, según funcionarios israelíes y los documentos sobre el esfuerzo. Decenas de empresas emergentes tecnológicas israelíes recibieron ese mes correos electrónicos y mensajes de WhatsApp en los que se les invitaba a participar en reuniones urgentes para convertirse en “soldados digitales” de Israel durante la guerra, según los mensajes vistos por el Times. Algunos de los correos electrónicos y mensajes fueron enviados por funcionarios del gobierno israelí, mientras que otros procedían de empresas tecnológicas emergentes e incubadoras.

La primera reunión se celebró en Tel Aviv a mediados de octubre. Al parecer, se trataba de una reunión informal en la que los israelíes podían ofrecer voluntariamente sus conocimientos técnicos para ayudar al esfuerzo bélico del país, según tres de los asistentes. También, dijeron, participaron miembros de varios ministerios.

A los participantes se les dijo que podían ser “guerreros por Israel” y que se podían llevar a cabo “campañas digitales” en nombre del país, según las grabaciones de las reuniones.

El Ministerio de Asuntos de la Diáspora encargó una campaña dirigida a Estados Unidos, dijeron los funcionarios israelíes. Se fijó un presupuesto de unos 2 millones de dólares, según un mensaje visto por el Times.

Stoic fue contratada para llevar a cabo la campaña. En su página web y en LinkedIn, Stoic dice que fue fundada en 2017 por un equipo de estrategas políticos y empresariales y se autodenomina una firma de mercadotecnia política e inteligencia empresarial. Otras empresas pueden haber sido contratadas para ejecutar campañas adicionales, dijo un funcionario israelí.

Muchas de las cuentas falsas de la campaña en X, Instagram y Facebook se hacían pasar por estudiantes estadounidenses ficticios, ciudadanos preocupados y electores locales. Las cuentas compartían artículos y estadísticas que respaldaban la posición de Israel en la guerra.

La operación se centró en más de una decena de miembros del Congreso, muchos de ellos personas negras y demócratas, según un análisis de FakeReporter. El representante Ritchie Torres, demócrata de Nueva York, quien ha manifestado abiertamente sus opiniones a favor de Israel, fue uno de los objetivos, además de Jeffries y Warnock.

Algunas de las cuentas falsas respondieron a mensajes de Torres en X comentando sobre el antisemitismo en los campus universitarios y en las principales ciudades de EE. UU. En respuesta a una publicación del 8 de diciembre de Torres en X sobre seguridad contra incendios, una cuenta falsa respondió: “Hamás está perpetrando el conflicto”, refiriéndose al grupo militante islamista. La publicación incluía una etiqueta que decía que se perseguía a los judíos.

En Facebook, las cuentas falsas publicaron en la página pública de Jeffries preguntándole si había visto un informe sobre la contratación que las Naciones Unidas hacían de miembros de Hamás en Gaza.

Torres, Jeffries y Warnock no respondieron a las solicitudes de comentarios.

La campaña también creó tres sitios de noticias falsas con nombres como Non-Agenda y UnFold Magazine, que robaron y reescribieron material de medios como CNN y The Wall Street Journal para promover la postura de Israel durante la guerra, según el análisis de FakeReporter. Luego, cuentas falsas de Reddit enlazaban los artículos de los supuestos sitios de noticias para ayudar a promocionarlos.

El esfuerzo fue descuidado. Las fotos de perfil utilizadas en algunas cuentas a veces no coincidían con los personajes ficticios que creaban, y el lenguaje utilizado en los mensajes era poco natural.

En al menos dos casos, cuentas con fotos de perfil de hombres negros publicaron que eran “mujeres judías de mediana edad”. En 118 mensajes en los que las cuentas falsas compartían artículos proisraelíes, aparecía la misma frase: “Tengo que reevaluar mis opiniones debido a esta nueva información”.

La semana pasada, Meta y OpenAI publicaron informes que atribuían la campaña de influencia a Stoic. Meta dijo que había eliminado 510 cuentas de Facebook, 11 páginas de Facebook, 32 cuentas de Instagram y un grupo de Facebook vinculados a la operación. OpenAI dijo que Stoic había creado personajes y biografías ficticios para sustituir a personas reales en servicios de redes sociales utilizados en Israel, Canadá y Estados Unidos para publicar mensajes antiislámicos. Muchos de esos mensajes permanecen en X.

X no respondió a la solicitud de comentarios.

En su página de LinkedIn, Stoic ha promocionado su capacidad para llevar a cabo campañas respaldadas por la inteligencia artificial. “De cara al futuro, está claro que el papel de la inteligencia artificial en las campañas políticas está listo para dar un salto transformador, reconfigurando la forma en que se diseñan, ejecutan y evalúan las campañas”, escribió.

El viernes, Stoic había eliminado esas publicaciones de LinkedIn.


Sheera Frenkel es una periodista que vive en el área de la Bahía de San Francisco y cubre las formas en que la tecnología afecta la vida cotidiana, enfocándose en las empresas de redes sociales como Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Telegram y WhatsApp. Más de Sheera Frenkel

46 niños desaparecieron en Ucrania; muchos están en adopción en Rusia

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Estos niños vivían en un hogar de acogida cuando las tropas rusas invadieron Ucrania.

Después, un grupo de funcionarios rusos se los llevaron.

En el transcurso del año siguiente, las autoridades hicieron trámites para que muchos de ellos fuesen adoptados.

Los funcionarios rusos dicen que los niños fueron rescatados; los expertos señalan que lo que les ocurrió podría considerarse como un crimen de guerra.

46 niños desaparecieron en Ucrania; muchos están en adopción en Rusia

46 niños desaparecieron en Ucrania; muchos están en adopción en Rusia – The New York Times

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El 24 de febrero de 2022, cuando se dio la noticia de la invasión de Rusia en Ucrania, Natalia Lukina esperaba un taxi en su casa.

Eran las seis de la mañana y no podía esperar para llegar a su trabajo en el Hogar Infantil de Jersón, una institución de acogida administrada por el Estado donde atendía a niños institucionalizados con necesidades especiales.

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Cuando llegó, ya retumbaba por los pasillos el sonido ensordecedor de la artillería pesada del ejército ruso en su ataque a la ciudad de Jersón, la capital de la región. Lukina y sus compañeros encargados de cuidar a los niños tenían un problema desgarrador: debían encontrar la manera de proteger a las decenas de menores vulnerables.

Eran bebés y niños pequeños, algunos de ellos con discapacidades graves como parálisis cerebral. Algunos todavía tenían padres con ciertos derechos de custodia sobre ellos, mientras que otros habían sido abandonados o los sacaron de hogares con dificultades.

“¿Quién más se iba a quedar a cuidarlos?”, reflexionó Lukina sobre su decisión de quedarse con ellos. “¿Qué habría pasado si todos les hubiéramos dado la espalda y nos hubiéramos ido?”.

Pero el edificio no estaba equipado para resistir tiroteos o bombardeos, y la policía ya se había ido de la ciudad. Korniyenko buscó en internet un mapa de refugios antiaéreos cercanos y encontró uno al que podían llegar a pie.

Entre los disparos, el personal trasladó a los niños con sus colchones, a pie y con carriolas, hasta un sótano de concreto. Llevaban comida, medicinas, bombas eléctricas y sondas de alimentación para los niños más enfermos.

Ese mismo día, un pastor local se enteró de sus dificultades y ofreció recibir a los niños en su iglesia. Entonces, el personal del hogar de acogida volvió a trasladar a los niños, apresurándose a refugiarlos en el sótano de la iglesia de Holhofa.


Abajo: El 25 de febrero de 2022, los niños fueron llevados a la iglesia de Holhofa, donde el personal grabó un video de ellos mientras se ocultaban ahí.

Una enfermera, Kateryna Sirodchuk, comentó que temían que las fuerzas rusas se llevaran a los niños.

Y sus temores pronto se convirtieron en realidad: el 25 de abril de 2022, un grupo de oficiales rusos encontró a los niños y decidió llevárselos. Terminaron a unos 290 kilómetros de casa.


Abajo: Funcionarios designados por Rusia publicaron imágenes de los niños en medios de comunicación del Estado y en Telegram, afirmando que los rescataron.

Las pruebas muestran que el traslado formó parte de una campaña sistemática del presidente ruso Vladimir Putin y sus aliados políticos, con la meta de despojar a las víctimas más vulnerables de la guerra de su identidad ucraniana. The New York Times analizó publicaciones en las redes sociales rusas; obtuvo fotografías, videos, mensajes de texto y documentos, y entrevistó a más de 110 cuidadores, expertos legales y funcionarios rusos y ucranianos con el fin de rastrear la vida y los movimientos de los niños que los rusos se llevaron.

En opinión de los expertos, lo que les ocurrió después podría constituir un crimen de guerra.

Dos semanas después del inicio de la invasión, la comisionada de Rusia para los derechos de los niños, Maria Lvova-Belova, estaba sentada frente a Putin en una reunión televisada en la que le pedía su ayuda.

La comisionada quería reubicar a los niños ucranianos que se encontraban en instalaciones de cuidados infantiles que quedaron atrapadas en el fuego cruzado de la guerra. Putin prometió eliminar los trámites burocráticos para que pudieran ubicarlos de manera permanente con familias rusas.

Durante semanas, funcionarios y policías ucranianos se habían esforzado para encontrar alguna manera de evacuar a los niños de la iglesia de Holhofa, que para ese entonces ya era territorio ocupado.

En abril, un comisionado ucraniano prometió, en una publicación de Telegram, ayudar a rescatarlos.

Unas horas después, hombres armados al mando de un oficial ruso que se hacía llamar Navigator se presentaron en la iglesia y exigieron que los niños regresaran al Hogar Infantil de Jersón. Cámaras de un medio de propaganda con oficinas en Crimea filmaron su llegada, y la noticia que se dio en relación con el incidente fue que las autoridades ucranianas habían secuestrado a los niños.

El pastor protestó e indicó que los niños estaban más seguros en su sótano. Sin embargo, los cuidadores no tuvieron más remedio que obedecer las órdenes y llevar a los niños de regreso al hogar en Jersón, donde las fuerzas de ocupación tenían mayor control.


Abajo: Un medio de propaganda con sede en Crimea filmó a funcionarios rusos llegando a la iglesia de Holhofa el 25 de abril de 2022. Exigían que los niños fueran devueltos al Hogar Infantil de Jersón.

Para la primavera de 2022, la ocupación de Jersón se había convertido en el modelo de la asimilación forzada de una ciudad ucraniana y sus residentes. Se designó un nuevo gobierno de ocupación, y frente al hogar de acogida se izó una bandera rusa.

Durante los siguientes meses, funcionarios rusos documentaron a través de sus populares canales de Telegram las acciones que estaban realizando para ayudar a los niños.


Abajo: Kastyukevich, también conocido como “Navigator”, difundió sus visitas al Hogar Infantil de Jersón a través de Telegram.

Navigator, el hombre que ordenó sacar a los niños de la iglesia, visitó el hogar en varias ocasiones. Más tarde, se le identificó como Igor Kastyukevich, miembro del Parlamento ruso perteneciente a Rusia Unida, el partido político de Putin.

En mayo de ese año, Putin cumplió la promesa que le había hecho a Lvova-Belova y emitió un decreto presidencial que flexibilizó los requisitos para obtener la ciudadanía: en Jersón y otras regiones ocupadas, los cuidadores ucranianos podrían solicitar la nacionalidad rusa a nombre de niños y huérfanos ucranianos.

El decreto también aceleró el proceso y los niños podrían convertirse en ciudadanos rusos en un plazo máximo de 90 días.

Al mes siguiente, a Korniyenko se le ordenó presentarse ante el Ministerio de Salud de Jersón, que ahora era operado por las autoridades de la ocupación. Un oficial respaldado por los rusos le pidió que permaneciera en su cargo de directora, pero bajo su supervisión.

Korniyenko se negó.

Lukina también renunció.

En busca de un nuevo director, las autoridades de ocupación le ofrecieron el cargo a Tetiana Zavalska, pediatra del hogar de acogida. Esa médica apoyaba a la nueva administración y dejó clara su ideología prorrusa.

Zavalska alentó a las autoridades de la ocupación a registrar formalmente el hogar de acogida. Ese mismo mes, quedó registrado.

Ese agosto, la cadena de televisión estatal rusa RT difundió un segmento que celebraba la ocupación de Jersón en el que incluyó al hogar, que ahora consideraban una institución legal.


Abajo: Anton Krasovsky, un comentarista proguerra, visitó a Zavalska y a los niños en el Hogar Infantil de Jersón para hacer un documental que se emitió en RT en agosto de 2022.

Abajo: Las cámaras de noticias rusas capturaron a Lvova-Belova llevando a niños de la región del Donbás a familias en Rusia en el verano de 2022, en algunos casos con actas de nacimiento y documentos de ciudadanía rusos nuevos.

Cuando Putin se anexó ilícitamente Jersón y otras tres regiones, las fuerzas ucranianas arrancaron una campaña militar para recuperar la ciudad.

Los oficiales rusos idearon un plan para los niños del hogar de acogida. A través de un chat en línea privado para estudiantes de Medicina, las autoridades de salubridad de Crimea —ocupada por Rusia— reclutaron la ayuda de voluntarios para trasladarlos.


Abajo: El Times obtuvo, y eliminó información para su divulgación, un mensaje privado enviado a estudiantes de medicina en Crimea el 20 de octubre de 2022.

Original | Translation

The Times obtained, and redacted, a private message sent to medical students in Crimea on Oct. 20, 2022.

Natalia Kibkalo, una de las enfermeras, acababa de acostar a unos 12 niños que tenían COVID-19 cuando escuchó la noticia: planeaban llevarse a los niños por la mañana.

Al día siguiente, el 21 de octubre, les cambió los pañales a los niños y les dio de comer. Sin embargo, no pudo soportar la idea de ayudar a prepararlos para su partida, así que tomó un taxi a casa.

Aproximadamente a las ocho de la mañana, llegaron ambulancias y autobuses blancos al hogar.

Entre las personas que llegaron estaban Kastyukevich, conocido como Navigator, así como el entonces ministro de Salud de Crimea, el subministro, los estudiantes voluntarios y varios administradores de otro hogar de acogida que más tarde se convirtieron en los nuevos cuidadores de los niños.

Zavalska reunió los documentos legales personales y el historial médico de los niños.

Frente al hogar, Kastyukevich cargó a un niño, le dio un beso y se lo entregó a otra persona en una fila; luego, hizo lo mismo con el siguiente cuyo nombre se anunció en voz alta, hasta que se leyeron los nombres de los 46 niños. Después, los llevaron a los autobuses y las ambulancias que los esperaban.


Abajo: Funcionarios rusos se llevaron a los niños del Hogar Infantil de Jersón el 21 de octubre de 2022, publicitando sus esfuerzos en Vkontakte, una popular plataforma de redes sociales.

El convoy abandonó el hogar más tarde esa mañana. Para la tarde, ya estaban en su destino.

El Times obtuvo fotos de los niños, sin fechas, tomadas por sus nuevos cuidadores en Crimea.

Al menos una pareja de padres afirmó haberse enterado de que sus hijos estaban en Crimea solo hasta que unos periodistas del Times los visitaron en Jersón seis meses después, aunque constaba en documentos que los funcionarios rusos tenían su nombre y dirección.

El Estado había asumido la custodia de sus hijos, Mykola, que tenía autismo, y Anastasiya Volodin, que sufría parálisis cerebral, hace varios años, tras determinar que la pareja no podía cuidarlos. Los tribunales ucranianos todavía no emitían ningún fallo con respecto a sus derechos parentales.

“No voy a permitir que nadie los adopte”, afirmó su padre, Roman Volodin.

En invierno de 2022, los nuevos cuidadores, junto con Zavalska, la tutora legal designada, tomaron medidas para integrar formalmente a los niños a la sociedad rusa, aunque algunos de ellos tenían padres biológicos en Ucrania que aún tenían derechos legales o de los cuales tenían conocimiento las autoridades rusas.

Primero, los cuidadores solicitaron actas de nacimiento rusas para los niños y tradujeron su nombre al ruso.

Los cuidadores solicitaron números de seguro social en Rusia para los niños porque, según dijeron, era un requisito para que los niños recibieran servicios médicos.

Algunos funcionarios designados por Rusia revelaron por accidente los documentos nuevos en una publicación de Telegram.

Finalmente, los niños recibieron la nacionalidad rusa, el último paso necesario para que pudieran ser puestos en adopción y encontraran un lugar permanente con familias rusas.

Según varios expertos legales, los documentos nuevos revelan que las autoridades rusas tenían la intención de quitarles a los niños su identidad ucraniana, en contravención de la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño. Incluso podría constituir un crimen de guerra.

En el aniversario de la guerra, los dos funcionarios de Crimea que ayudaron a orquestar el traslado de los niños de Jersón recibieron premios estatales de Putin.

Sin embargo, al día siguiente, el fiscal de la Corte Penal Internacional emitió una orden de detención contra Putin y la comisionada rusa para los derechos del niño, por el “traslado ilegal” de “por lo menos cientos de niños” de orfanatos y hogares de acogida en toda Ucrania.

Siete de los niños del Hogar Infantil de Jersón ya regresaron a Ucrania con ayuda de las autoridades ucranianas y terceros mediadores cataríes. Entre los niños que regresaron están Anastasiya y Mykola Volodin, cuya madre viajó en febrero a Moscú para recuperarlos.

Anastasiya murió al poco tiempo en un hospital ucraniano, unas semanas después de cumplir 6 años. Un médico identificó la causa de su muerte como una convulsión epiléptica. Las autoridades ucranianas se encargan de nuevo del cuidado de Mykola, en tanto un tribunal determina si sus padres pueden ser sus tutores legales.

Por ahora, los demás niños de Jersón continúan bajo la custodia de Rusia.

Edición de video y fotos por Natalie Reneau. Traducciones e investigación adicional de Oksana Nesterenko. Traducción adicional de Milana Mazaeva.

Rebecca Lieberman colaboró al diseño desde Nueva York. Adam Coll, Slava Yatsenko, Anton Lavreniuk y Evelina Riabenko colaboraron con la producción de campo desde la ciudad de Jersón.

Yousur Al-Hlou es videoperiodista sénior del Times que cubre noticias de última hora e historias de investigación en zonas de conflicto de todo el mundo. Más de Yousur Al-Hlou

Masha Froliak es una periodista que ha estado cubriendo la guerra en Ucrania desde la invasión rusa en 2022. Más de Masha Froliak

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