The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, has assembled a team of experts with the hope that they will visit the plant in southern Ukraine “in the next few days,” officials said. They would assess physical damage, determine whether safety and security systems are functional and evaluate working conditions, the agency said.
But as talks continue, a possible crisis looms. Increased barrages near the plant struck towns, ammunition dumps and a Russian military base in intensive fighting yesterday, raising questions about whether the area would ever be secure enough to allow inspectors anywhere near the plant.
Background: Russia and Ukraine have acknowledged the risks of a potential nuclear accident at the plant, the largest power station in Europe, but neither appears to be pausing attacks. And for weeks, the countries have blamed each other for firing artillery at the nuclear plant.
Details: Ukrainian officials have rushed to hand out potassium iodide to tens of thousands of people living near the plant. The drug can protect people from radiation-induced thyroid cancer.
Ukraine is using retrofitted equipment, like missiles and rocket systems mounted on trucks and speedboats, to score big wins against Russia.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, offered incentives to Ukrainians to move to his country, part of widening efforts to integrate people living in territory it occupies.
During the war, Ukrainian women have taken on new roles, including demining and combat. But they are increasingly bearing the worst of the conflict.
“It feels sometimes that my mere existence is a provocation to some,” Sanna Marin said last year.Saara Mansikkamaki for The NewYorkTimes
Finland debates its leader’s parties
Sanna Marin, Finland’s 36-year-old prime minister, is engulfed in a scandal after videos of her dancing at a party were leaked this month.
The conflict, my colleague Katrin Bennhold reported from Helsinki, is at the heart of the country’s identity shift to becoming a beacon of progressive modernity. Some Finns are clamoring for Marin’s resignation, arguing that her conduct is unbecoming of a prime minister. Others see her as inspirational.
The issue has also raised the question of whether Marin is held to a different standard than older male leaders. “This hurts a certain type of elderly man,” said Tarja Halonen, who was Finland’s first female president. “They are afraid of the situation — that it’s more and more normal that women of all ages take political roles and that women are now more the rule than the exception.”
Context: Even by Finnish standards, Marin is exceptionally young and her government exceptionally female. When she took office in 2019, at 34, she was more than 20 years younger than her two immediate male predecessors when they entered office.
Legacy: Marin has guided Finland through the coronavirus pandemic with one of Europe’s lowest death rates. After Russia invaded Ukraine, she traveled to Sweden to win support for Finland’s and Sweden’s momentous bid to join NATO.
A Pride parade in Vienna in June.Lisa Leutner/Reuters
Serbia cancels a gay Pride event
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s president, has canceled EuroPride, an annual weeklong L.G.B.T.Q. celebration.
“This is a violation of minority rights,” Vucic acknowledged, “but at this moment, the state is pressured by numerous problems.” He cited tensions with Kosovo, economic problems and concerns about anti-gay protesters.
The announcement shocked organizers, who vowed to go ahead with the festivities, planned for Sept. 12-18. They said they were prepared to start a legal challenge and that a cancellation would violate their rights of freedom of assembly and expression, detailed in the Serbian Constitution and protected by European human rights law.
Background: EuroPride is a weeklong festival that has been held since 1992 in a different European city each year. More than 15,000 people, many traveling from abroad, were expected to attend the event in Belgrade, which would have culminated in a Pride march.
Context: Belgrade’s bid to host EuroPride had been supported by Serbia’s prime minister, Ana Brnabic, who is the first woman and first openly gay person to hold that position. It would have been Serbia’s first year hosting the event.
But the project is threatened by a ballooning budget and rushed construction over fragile terrain. Even though it may be hurtling toward disaster, he refuses to slow it down.
We’re covering Ukraine’s expanded southern offensive and a political crisis in Iraq.
Ukrainian soldiers riding back from near the Kherson front line.Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times
Ukraine bolsters its counteroffensive
Ukrainian forces launched ground assaults yesterday in multiple areas along the front in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, apparently stepping up a counteroffensive aimed at recapturing territory seized by Russia.
Fighting along a swath of the front line escalated sharply, according to Ukrainian officials. Kyiv said that its military had “breached the occupiers’ first line of defense near Kherson,” as part of a multipronged advance.
Context: For months, Ukrainian officials have promised a broad counteroffensive in the Kherson region to push Russian forces from the western bank of the Dnipro River, a natural barrier. It was unclear if the fighting yesterday was the start of that larger effort.
In other updates:
Ukraine also claimed to have destroyed a large Russian military base behind Russian lines in the Kherson region. It was not possible to immediately verify the claims.
Sadr’s announcement could mark a more dangerous phase of Iraqi turmoil, and it raised fears that his followers would increasingly turn to street protests. Baghdad and most provinces were under curfew by yesterday evening.
It could also deepen a political stalemate: Iraq hasn’t had a new government since candidates loyal to Sadr won the biggest bloc of seats last October. In June, he ordered the new lawmakers to resign. His followers then set up a tent camp that has blockaded Parliament for more than a month, preventing lawmakers from meeting.
Analysis: The cleric has said he was leaving politics before, prompting questions about whether this could be a tactic to gain the upper hand in future negotiations to form a government.
The wreckage of a ship that sank in World War II has emerged in the Danube River.Fedja Grulovic/Reuters
Europe tries to deal with drought
Europe is confronting one its worst droughts in decades: Nearly 65 percent of E.U. territory is currently under some degree of drought warning, according to one estimate.
As droughts become more frequent, Britain is looking to reprocess its sewage into drinking water in the future. The head of Britain’s Environment Agency said that people would need to be “less squeamish” about the idea.
Analysis: Climate change will make extreme weather — like droughts, hurricanes and other large storms — more frequent and intense.
Context: Toilet-to-tap recycling is already in place in Australia, Singapore, Namibia and parts of the U.S. It’s cheaper than desalination and can be used in inland areas.
Ramon Van Flymen/EPA, via Shutterstock
Air France is under scrutiny after a series of incidents raised concerns about safety. In June, for instance, two pilots got into a fight in the cockpit. They were suspended.
Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, has returned from a three-day visit to Algeria. He is trying to reshape a fraught relationship and account for historical wrongs.
In China, 28 people were charged months after video circulated of men beating women in a restaurant. The attack prompted outraged discussion about misogyny, but the government has tried to change the topic to gangs.
Angola’s ruling party eked out a win yesterday, though it was its weakest showing in five elections, as young people turned away.
“All of us get a say,” says Father Mike Schmitz. “From the deeply religious to the convicted atheist and everyone in between.”
We’re covering the death of Mikhail Gorbachev and efforts to get U.N. inspectors to an imperiled nuclear plant.
During his six years in power, Mikhail Gorbachev lifted the Iron Curtain and transformed the world.Fred R. Conrad/The NewYorkTimes
Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91
Mikhail Gorbachev, a reformist leader who oversaw the end of the Soviet Union, has died at 91.
His rise to power set in motion a series of revolutionary changes that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Few leaders in the 20th century, indeed in any century, have had such a profound effect on their time.
Abroad, he was hailed as a hero. At home, he promised and delivered greater openness — glasnost — as he implemented his policy of perestroika to restructure his country’s society and faltering economy. And although it was not his intention to liquidate the Soviet empire, he presided over an extraordinary five months in 1989 when the Communist system imploded from the Baltics to the Balkans.
Vladimir Putin: The Russian president has called the collapse of the Soviet Union the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Putin sees the war with Ukraine as part of his battle to undo Gorbachev’s legacy.
Reaction: Gorbachev lived long enough to see the East-West divide revived during the war in Ukraine. He is being lionized by the West, but is reviled by some in Russia.
A camouflaged Ukrainian position near Kherson.David Guttenfelder for The NewYorkTimes
U.N. inspectors stalled in Ukraine
U.N. nuclear experts arrived in Kyiv yesterday with plans to inspect the imperiled nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia “within days.”
Their path to get to the facility in southern Ukraine is still unresolved. A senior Ukrainian adviser said that Russian forces had fired on possible routes to the facility. The shelling seemed intentional, he said, but he expressed hope that the 14 inspectors would reach the plant “one way or another.”
Witnesses and Iraqi security officials confirmed that shooting had stopped after his call. But the turmoil has raised fears that Iraq is caught in a perilous cycle with no functioning government — and no common ground to make one.
Notably, the tensions flared between different Shiite political factions, highlighting long-building friction at the heart of Iraqi politics. Sadr leads one faction, which is mistrustful of Iran and espouses Iraqi nationalism.
Other groups are backed by Iran, and some of them are Shiite militias that answer more to Iran’s Shiite theocracy than to Iraq’s government.
Context: Iraq is a majority Shiite country, but Shiites faced years of harsh repression under Saddam Hussein. They came to political power after the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Details: Sadr’s followers took to the streets of the capital after he announced on Monday that he planned to retire from politics. They fought with security forces, which include members of the Iranian-backed militias that Sadr opposes.
Putin has called the end of the Soviet Union a “genuine tragedy” for Russia and the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” He has blamed Gorbachev, the U.S.S.R.’s final leader, for bending to the demands of a treacherous and duplicitous West.
But Putin did not mention the war in Ukraine, where he is fighting to reverse Gorbachev’s legacy.
The Kremlin: Soon after Gorbachev’s death, it became clear that he would not be venerated by the Kremlin as other former leaders had been. A column published by the state news agency said Gorbachev could “serve as an illustration that good intentions of a national leader can create hell on earth for a whole country.”
Many are puzzled: Putin has repeatedly framed the war as an existential battle for Russia but insists on fighting the biggest land war in Europe since World War II with a Russian military that is essentially at peacetime strength.
The move appears to be strategic. Putin is trying to maintain domestic stability and prevent widespread public backlash. Even though the Kremlin released an order last week to increase the target size of the military by 137,000 service members, analysts said it appeared that Putin was still intent on adding to the ranks by aggressive recruitment, rather than by large-scale conscription.
Now, though, the debate has grown more urgent. Ukraine is gaining momentum on the southern front. And the recent killing of Daria Dugina, an ultranationalist commentator, has magnified the voices of radical hawks who believe that the Kremlin is underestimating the enemy and lulling Russian society into a false sense of security.
A security guard at a detention center in Xinjiang, China, last year.Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
U.N. denounces China’s conduct in Xinjiang
China may have committed “crimes against humanity” in its mass detention of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups in its far western region of Xinjiang, the U.N.’s human rights office said yesterday.
The forceful denouncement came in a much-delayed report, released minutes before Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, was to leave office. China had pressured her not to publish it.
But it treats as credible rights groups’ and activists’ claims that China has detained Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others, often for having overseas ties or for expressing religious faith. It also says that allegations of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, “appear credible and would in themselves amount to acts of torture or other forms of ill-treatment.”
Details: The report’s release ended a nearly yearlong delay that had exposed Bachelet and her office to fierce pushback by activists and others who had accused her of caving to Beijing.
Quotable: Sophie Richardson, the China director for Human Rights Watch, described the report as “an unprecedented challenge to Beijing’s lies and horrific treatment of Uyghurs.”
We’re covering President Biden’s speech on U.S. democracy and the arrival of U.N. inspectors at an imperiled nuclear power plant.
“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backward,” President Biden said.Doug Mills/The NewYorkTimes
Biden speaks on U.S. democracy
President Biden addressed the U.S. in a prime-time speech last night. He spoke about the threat to American democracy, warning that the country’s values are under assault by those loyal to former Donald Trump.
“For a long time, we’ve reassured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed,” Biden said. “But it is not. We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us.”
In remarkably direct remarks, Biden defined the upcoming midterm elections as a “battle for the soul of the nation.” He accused Republicans loyal to Trump of embracing extremism and undermining democratic values.
Citing the “extraordinary experiment of self-government” represented by the Constitution, Biden said that “history tells us a blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.”
Analysis: Ahead of the midterm elections, Biden has spent less time calling for compromise and more time accusing Republicans of presenting a danger to democracy, using some of the sharpest and most combative language of his presidency.
Hours before the group arrived, Russian mortar shells struck the plant, Ukraine’s nuclear energy company said. The plant deployed emergency backup measures, prompting the shutdown of one reactor and the activation of backup generators at another.
The shelling highlighted the safety risks the team had come to assess, though Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over who was to blame. Repeated shelling has raised fears of an atomic catastrophe.
In remarks after his visit, the top U.N. nuclear inspector, Rafael Grossi, said that he continued to worry about the plant’s safety. “It is obvious that the plant and physical integrity of the plant have been violated several times,” he said, adding, “This cannot continue to happen.”
Their fight to succeed Boris Johnson as the country’s leader, and as the leader of the Conservative Party, has often seemed divorced from Britain’s dire economic problems, our London bureau chief reports.
That may come, in part, from the nature of this election. The next prime minister will be chosen in balloting not by tens of millions of British voters, but by roughly 160,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party.
The party’s members, whom the two candidates have sought to woo, tend to be older, wealthier and more right-wing than the broader British electorate. Neither candidate has offered a comprehensive package to deal with families hard hit by spiraling food and fuel prices.
It’s a win-win: Socializing across generations has been shown to draw older people out, making them smile and talk more. And the young visitors are rewarded in diapers, baby formula and free baby photo shoots.
China cancels African debts
China has announced that it would cancel some debts of 17 African countries. The move is aimed, in part, at addressing accusations of “debt trap diplomacy,” the idea that China has encroached on the continent by lending countries more money than they can pay back.
Beijing hasn’t revealed who will benefit from the cancellation, but the news was already being celebrated in Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest countries. A front-page story in The Nation, an influential independent newspaper there, reported that the cancellation of 5.5 billion kwacha, or $5.3 million, had “excited Treasury and economic commentators.” In Nigeria, pundits estimated that the cancellation could clear nearly 4 percent of their country’s total borrowing.
Chinese leadership has been battling the complex debt-trap narrative, pointing to research showing that Africa owes more to Western lenders. The cancellation also positions China as an “all-weather friend,” in the words of its Foreign Ministry, said Cobus van Staden, a co-founder of the nonprofit China-Global South Project.
But the loans the Chinese government planned to cancel are zero-interest loans that amount to just a fraction of its lending to Africa, van Staden added. For instance, Angola — China’s largest debtor in Africa — is unlikely to benefit because the country borrowed from Chinese banks, said Francisco Paulo, an economist based in Luanda, Angola’s capital. — Lynsey Chutel, a Briefings writer based in Johannesburg.
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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