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Stories from The New York Times for the 4th week of August 2022

August 22

A photo provided by the Russian government said to show investigators at the site of a car bombing outside Moscow.Russian Investigative Committee/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A brazen attack near Moscow rattles Russians

Russia has opened a murder investigation into the car bombing that killed Daria Dugina, 29, a hawkish political commentator who was the daughter of a prominent backer of President Vladimir Putin. The attack in Moscow has injected new uncertainty into the six-month war in Ukraine and rattled Russia’s elite.
Russian media outlets described the car bombing as a “terrorist attack.” It occurred on Saturday on a highway and shattered the windows of houses in a wealthy suburb. They said the intended target had been Dugina’s father, the philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, who had taken a different vehicle at the last minute.
Though an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said that the country had played no role in the attack, associates of Daria Dugina’s claimed that Ukraine was behind the bombing. It came in the wake of a number of Ukrainian attacks in the Russian-controlled peninsula of Crimea, and amid calls in Russia for Putin to launch a new assault on Ukraine in retaliation.
Who is Aleksandr Dugin? Often described as “Putin’s brain,” he is a longtime proponent of the idea of an imperial Russia at the helm of a “Eurasian” civilization locked in an existential conflict in the West. His daughter was not well known in Russia beyond ultranationalist and imperialist circles.
For more: In the Kremlin-controlled news media, the war is not about Ukraine, but about a long history of enemies trying to keep Russia down.
Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, at a political rally in Islamabad on Saturday.Sohail Shahzad/EPA, via Shutterstock

Imran Khan is charged under antiterrorism act

Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, was charged under the country’s antiterrorism act yesterday, in a drastic escalation of the tense power struggle between the country’s current government and its former leader that threatens to set off a fresh round of public unrest and turmoil.
The charges came a day after Khan, the former cricket star who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in April, gave an impassioned speech to hundreds of supporters at a rally in Islamabad, condemning the recent arrest of one of his top aides and vowing to file legal cases against police officers and a judge involved in the case.
Khan has not yet commented publicly on the charges. He has not yet been arrested, according to a leader of his political party. Many fear that if he is arrested, it may plunge the country into a new round of public unrest and violent street protests.
Charges: The police report detailing the charges against Khan said that his comments at the rally amounted to a deliberate and illegal attempt to intimidate the country’s judiciary and police force, local news outlets reported.
A market in Kairouan, in northern Tunisia.Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

The unraveling of Tunisia’s democracy

As the protests that led to the Arab Spring withered over the past decade and authoritarian leaders across the region regained their grip on power, Tunisia remained the region’s greatest hope for democratic change. But in the past two years, its president, Kais Saied, has swept away checks on his power to establish one-man rule, writes Vivian Yee, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, in an analysis.
Veterans of the democracy-building experiment say multiple missteps helped erase Tunisians’ faith in their government. The country cycled through 10 prime ministers in 10 years, none of which could right the former regime’s wrongs or achieve economic progress. A decade from the revolution, Tunisia had greater corruption, higher unemployment, widening poverty and deeper debt.
Most of Tunisia’s post-revolution leaders barely even realized they needed an economic plan. They had speedy, but shortsighted, solutions to address unemployment: hiring thousands of civil servants on government salaries and borrowing from abroad to pay for it. Overall, this costly mistake stoked inflation and burdened the country with ever-growing debt.
Quotable: “It was a race among parties to buy support and votes,” said Ezzeddine Saidane, an economist. Later, when the need to cut the cost of civil servants’ wages became obvious, “politicians lacked the political courage to fire thousands of people at once,” he said.
Around the World
Wallace Woon/EPA, via Shutterstock

August 23

Outside Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago

The first batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from Donald Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that helped prompt the criminal investigation that led F.B.I. agents to search Mar-a-Lago this month, people briefed on the matter said. So far, the government has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Trump since he left office, they added.
The extent to which such a large number of highly sensitive documents remained at Mar-a-Lago for months, even as the Justice Department sought the return of all material that should have been left in government custody when Trump left office, suggested to officials that the former president or his aides had been cavalier in handling it, not fully forthcoming with investigators, or both.
The specific nature of the sensitive material that Trump took from the White House remains unclear. But the 15 boxes he turned over to the archives in January included documents from the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. spanning a variety of topics of national security interest, a person briefed on the matter said.
Absences: Among the items officials knew were missing were Trump’s original letters from the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and the note that Barack Obama had left before he departed the White House.
Related: The federal judge who signed the warrant authorizing the search of Trump’s Florida residence directed the government yesterday to propose redactions to the sealed affidavit used to justify the search, saying that he remained inclined to make portions of it public.
Refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo at a U.N. reception center in Uganda.Badru Katumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A record humanitarian aid shortfall

Funding to ease the world’s humanitarian crises is far behind what is needed for critical requirements like shelter, food, water, power and education, the U.N. reports. Crises including the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and drought have sent demand soaring. Though donations from wealthy countries have grown, they have not kept pace.
The U.N. agencies responsible for humanitarian aid need $48.7 billion this year to aid more than 200 million people. More than seven months into 2022, they have raised less than one-third of that. “This is the biggest funding gap we’ve ever seen,” said Martin Griffiths, the chief of the U.N.’s humanitarian and emergency relief office.
That bleak overview hides a stark contrast: The Russian invasion has generated particular geopolitical urgency, and as a result money for programs to help Ukrainians has been relatively plentiful. But money for people in most other parts of the world has not.
Implications: Because of the funding gap, camps for Syrian refugees in northern Iraq have cut access to clean water, sanitation and electricity. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, many people forced from their homes face life without shelter or basic tools like fishing or farming gear. In South Sudan, there will be no secondary school this fall for some refugee children.
A memorial in Moscow for Daria Dugina.Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Russia accuses Ukraine of a murder

Russia’s domestic intelligence agency has accused Ukraine of assassinating Daria Dugina, an ultranationalist commentator who died in a car bombing on Saturday, as figures in Russia’s pro-war camp clamored for retaliation. Dugina was the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a hawkish political theorist connected to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Ukraine has denied any connection to the attack.
The agency, the F.S.B., said that the attack “was prepared and committed by the Ukrainian intelligence agencies” and carried out by a Ukrainian woman traveling with her child, who then crossed the border into Estonia. Pro-Kremlin voices have aimed their wrath at Estonia as well as Ukraine, suggesting that Estonia, a NATO member, was sheltering the assassin and warning of retribution.
It was not immediately possible to verify either the allegations or the denials. Russia has shut down independent reporting and has made it a crime to dispute the Kremlin’s account of the war with Ukraine. Russian claims about atrocities, provocations and battlefield setbacks have repeatedly proved false. The F.S.B. has long been dogged by suspicions that it blames others for crimes it committed itself or ones it was trying to cover up.
Putin: The accusations highlight the growing domestic political pressure that the Russian president is facing six months after he ordered the invasion of Ukraine. Putin offered his condolences to Dugina’s parents in a statement, calling her “a bright, talented person” killed in a “vile, cruel crime.”
In other news from the war:

August 24

Captured Russian tanks lining Khreshchatyk Street, a normally elegant shopping venue in Kyiv.Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Bracing for Independence Day

Ukraine will mark two key dates today: 31 years of independence from the Soviet Union and six months of war waged by Russia.
There’s a sense of fear hanging over the independence anniversary: Ukrainian and U.S. officials have warned that Russia might use the day for a show of force. President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that Ukraine would react quickly with a “strong response” if Moscow were to strike Kyiv.
They are concerned that possible missile attacks could come in response to a string of Ukrainian assaults on Russian military targets in Crimea. Speculations that Ukraine killed Daria Dugina, a hawkish commentator, have also heightened tensions. Hundreds attended her memorial in Moscow, and many called for revenge.
Reaction: Across Ukraine, security is being tightened. Officers are fanning out on the streets. Big celebrations have been banned, and people have been urged to pay special attention to air-raid sirens, which many residents of cities far from the front simply ignore now.
Nuclear: Yesterday, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the fighting near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. Countries traded harsh accusations, and a path forward to avert a nuclear disaster remained unclear.
World War II wrecks are creating hazards for local river transport and fishing on the Danube River.Fedja Grulovic/Reuters

Drought reveals riverbeds’ secrets

Europe’s rivers, starved by drought, have revealed shipwrecks, relics and bombs.
The Danube River is running so low on water that the wreckage of more than a dozen German warships, sunk in 1944, has resurfaced — possibly endangering other boats. In Italy, the foundations of a 2,000-year-old bridge in Rome emerged in the Tiber, while fishermen found a 450-kilogram bomb in the Po River. And in Spain, a four- to five-millennium-old megalithic monument rose near Madrid.
The extreme heat hasn’t just revealed antiquities. It has strained Europe’s ability to create its own energy supply by reducing hydropower in Norway and threatening nuclear reactors in France, and led to restrictions. Britain banned the use of outdoor hoses after England experienced its driest July since 1935, while some Spanish towns have restricted water usage.
Climate: The drought has caused alarm across the continent, where heat waves are increasing in frequency and intensity at a faster rate than almost any other part of the planet. Global warming plays a major role.
Details: So-called hunger stones have also resurfaced. The stones carry engravings from years past when water levels dropped, and the local populations knew the harvest would be bad and the ensuing year tough. One, found in the Czech Republic, reads: “If you see me, weep.”
Some policymakers in Britain see the overall growth in wages as a sign of trouble.Alice Zoo for The New York Times

U.K. labor shortage drives inflation

Britain is in the middle of a red-hot labor market. In an effort to attract and retain workers, many employers are raising wages.
In some senses, it’s a great time to be a worker. But the wage increases may be sowing the seeds of faster inflation. Last week, Britons learned that the annual rate of inflation reached 10.1 percent in July, the fastest pace since 1982, as energy prices rose and businesses passed higher costs — for supplies and also labor — on to their customers.
And the rising cost of living is causing serious problems. For most, earnings aren’t rising fast enough to keep up with inflation, which follows years of lackluster wage growth.
Contributing factors: Brexit drove workers from Britain. And the labor market also shrank due to a pandemic-related increase in sickness, and people re-evaluating life choices or taking early retirement.
Context: The number of job vacancies has exploded to nearly 1.3 million, a record high. Half a million people, considered “economically inactive,” aren’t working or looking for work. There has also been a large increase in the number of people who are counted as “long-term sick.”
What’s next: The central bank is forecasting a long recession starting later this year. But hiring has hardly slowed.
Continue reading the main story

Canada returned or sold back land to Indigenous communities after decades of court battles. They are now huge players in Vancouver’s hyperactive real estate market.

August 25

“What is the end of the war for us?” President Volodymyr Zelensky asked. “We used to say, ‘Peace.’ Now we say, ‘Victory.’”Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Ukraine marks six months of war

Yesterday, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, a Russian attack killed at least 22 people and wounded 50 at a train station in eastern Ukraine, near Dnipro.
But despite the missile strike, one of the deadliest on Ukraine’s railways in recent months, Ukraine stood defiant as the country celebrated its separation from the Soviet Union. In a slickly produced address earlier in the day, President Volodymyr Zelensky declared Ukraine “reborn” six months after Russia invaded.
But for many civilians on the front lines, Independence Day is just another day of war. Victory is a distant prospect for either Ukraine or Russia. “We have constant shelling going on here, round-the-clock, so it won’t be anything new if we’re shelled on Independence Day,” one woman said.
Fuel: Germany, Europe’s largest economy, issued its first nationally mandated energy-saving measures yesterday in response to a looming crisis.
Analysis: Times correspondents look at how the war has reshaped Ukraine and Russia. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and the number of refugees has surpassed 6.6 million. Here’s the war in numbers.
Aid: President Biden said the U.S. would deliver nearly $3 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine, the U.S.’s single largest package of military aid to Ukraine’s forces.
“All of this means people can start finally to climb out from under that mountain of debt,” President Biden said.Al Drago for The New York Times

U.S. to lessen student loan debt

President Biden announced a plan yesterday to wipe out significant amounts of student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans.
The move could be significant: Across the U.S., 45 million people owe $1.6 trillion for federal loans taken out for college — more than they owe on car loans, credit cards or any consumer debt other than mortgages. By some estimates, the plan could cost $300 billion or more.
For months, progressive Democrats have pushed Biden for bigger cancellations, arguing that debt forgiveness is necessary to address racial disparities in the economy. This plan is less than they hoped.
But Biden’s plan sought to address the economic concerns by targeting the size of the relief. The White House had to weigh questions of fairness: Some argue that widespread debt forgiveness is unfair to those who tightened their belts to pay for college. The White House also had to balance fears that the plan could make inflation worse ahead of the midterm elections.
Details: Biden said he would cancel $10,000 in debt for those earning less than $125,000 per year and $20,000 for those who had received Pell grants for low-income families.
What’s next: The plan will almost certainly face legal challenges: Biden used executive action, rather than legislation, to forgive the loans. Republicans are slamming the program as “Biden’s bailout for the wealthy.”
Rebel fighters outside Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, last year.Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Fighting erupts near Tigray region

Fighting erupted on the border of the Tigray region yesterday, ending a five-month cease-fire between rebels and the Ethiopian government.
Tigrayan rebels, the Ethiopian government and local residents confirmed that fighting was taking place around Kobo, a town in northern Ethiopia, following weeks of military buildup on both sides of the front line. Each side accused the other of firing first.
The clashes raised fears about another wave of violence in a ruinous civil war, which could further endanger the six million people already trapped in one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Millions are already on the verge of full-blown famine.
Background: The conflict started in November 2020. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government cut off access to the region in July 2021, after Tigrayan rebels expelled government forces, earning their first major victory.
Recent: An uneasy calm had reigned since March, when both sides agreed to a truce to allow humanitarian aid deliveries.

Anthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • South Korea broke its own record for the world’s lowest total fertility rate last year after six straight years of declines. Experts project future drops.

August 26

A Russian Army recruiting billboard that reads: “Serving Russia is a real job!”Dmitri Lovetsky/Associated Press

Putin to expand Russia’s military

Vladimir Putin ordered a sharp increase in the size of Russia’s armed forces yesterday, signaling a lengthy commitment to the war in Ukraine.
The Russian president raised the target number of active-duty service members by about 137,000, to 1.15 million, as of January of next year. He also ordered the government to set aside money to pay for the growth.
Some analysts described the move as a clear signal that, after a full six months of fighting, Putin had no plans to relent.
Putin may also be trying to rebuild his forces. Experts have attributed the slowing pace of Russia’s offensive to a lack of manpower. And Western estimates of Russia’s casualties, including both deaths and injuries, have run as high as 80,000.
Analysis: Putin’s decree represents a stunning reversal of years of efforts by the Kremlin to slim down a bloated military. But a national draft would destroy the veneer of normalcy that Russia has sought to maintain, despite economic sanctions and the continued fighting.
Liz Truss is trying to appeal to the 160,000 or so dues-paying members of the Conservative Party who will choose the next British prime minister.Phil Noble/Reuters

Liz Truss channels Margaret Thatcher

Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, is the odds-on favorite to become the country’s next prime minister.
With less than two weeks left in a race against Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, Truss has projected an aura of inevitability, stuck to the Conservative Party orthodoxy and wrapped herself in the mantle of Margaret Thatcher, a conservative icon.
But Truss, 47, has offered very few clues about how she would confront an economic crisis that many experts view as the gravest in a generation. Instead, she has vowed to cut taxes, shrink the size of the government and discard the remaining E.U. regulations.
History: If she triumphs, Truss will become Britain’s third female leader, after Theresa May and Thatcher, an anti-Communist warrior and free-market evangelist who took power during a time of comparable economic hardship in 1979.
The New York Times

How China could blockade Taiwan

China probably still lacks the ability to quickly invade and seize Taiwan, but it is honing its ability to blockade the self-governed island.
In an effort to force concessions, or as a precursor to wider military action, Beijing could ring the island in ships and submarines to prevent vessels from entering or leaving Taiwan’s ports. A blockade would seek to repel U.S. forces, and China would most likely also use warplanes and missiles to dominate the skies.
Taiwan could be vulnerable: Most of its 23 million people are concentrated on its western flank — closest to China — along with its industry and ports. Even a limited blockade would threaten one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
Technology: China sees information as a key battleground. It may try to disable undersea cables that carry about 90 percent of the data connecting Taiwan to the world.
Continue reading the main story

Virginia Mayo/Associated Press
Mack Rutherford, 17, became the youngest pilot to complete a solo flight around the world in a small plane when he landed in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday.
The Belgian-British pilot flew nearly 30,000 miles (more than 48,000 kilometers) and made stops in 30 countries. “Very happy to be here after five long months,” he said while disembarking.

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A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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