Dueling accusations over Kremlin explosions
Two explosions occurred 15 minutes apart over the Kremlin early yesterday, video footage verified by The Times showed. The incident set off a flurry of accusations and escalated tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Russia accused the Ukrainian government of orchestrating a drone attack, which it described it as a deliberate attempt to strike President Vladimir Putin’s residence. The Kremlin said the strike was foiled by Russian “electronic warfare systems,” but did not release any evidence to show that Ukraine was behind the explosions.
Ukraine strongly denied any involvement. It asserted that Russia had manufactured the incident to distract attention from a looming counteroffensive. A senior Ukrainian official warned that it was an attempt by the Kremlin to set the stage for deadlier strikes.
U.S. intelligence agencies were still trying to determine what actually happened. “We simply don’t know,” Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, said when he was asked about the incident. “I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt.”
Videos: See footage of what appears to be two drones exploding minutes apart about the Kremlin.
Analysis: Our Moscow bureau chief noted that the Kremlin made a deliberate choice to quickly make the incident public. Now the question is whether Russia will use the incident to justify further escalation in Ukraine.
How the U.S. miscalculated in Sudan
Just a few weeks ago, American diplomats thought Sudan was on the verge of a deal to push ahead on a transition from military dictatorship to democracy. But after fighting erupted between forces led by two rival generals, the U.S. faced questions about its failed diplomacy.
Critics say the Americans were naïve about the two generals and missed chances to empower civilian leaders. Their fumbles may have contributed to the outbreak of the current war.
The big picture: Sudan’s war is creating exactly the kind of power vacuum that the U.S. had hoped to avoid. Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Group are among those trying to fill that vacuum, throwing their weight behind one side or another, U.S. officials said. Sudan’s deposed prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, has said that a civil war in Sudan would make the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya look like “a small play.”
Evacuations: Saudi Arabia has played a central role in helping people leave Sudan, sending naval ships and commercial vessels on more than a dozen trips across the Red Sea. They have evacuated nearly 6,000 people so far, fewer than 250 of them Saudi citizens.
Bikini Atoll’s crisis
In the 1980s, the U.S. created two funds to compensate the residents of Bikini Atoll, who were displaced by the nuclear tests there. After a campaign by Bikini leaders, the Trump administration in 2017 lifted the withdrawal limits and stopped auditing the main fund, then worth $59 million.
Six years later, just $100,000 remains.
The mayor of the council that oversees the displaced community has made a series of questionable purchases, including $4.8 million for land in Hawaii. He said they were investments, made with an eye toward rising climate threats, but he has acknowledged using the fund for personal expenses.
No more lifeline: The Bikini community is in crisis. Monthly payments of about $150 to each of the community’s 6,800 members to help cover food and rent have ceased.
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A less toxic life
Common household items may have hidden pollutants. We have suggestions for ways to minimize the toxicity of your home.
Candles: Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum. It emits fumes when it burns, which can irritate the eyes or exacerbate respiratory conditions. And wicks can contain lead. Consider beeswax or soy wax candles instead, but read the fine print to make sure there’s no paraffin.
Plastic containers: Kitchens are full of plastic bags and containers. Some have Bisphenol A, or BPA, which has been linked to all kinds of health issues. (BPA-free plastics can contain Bisphenol S, which is chemically similar.) Consider a glass or metal container with a silicone lid. There are also plastic-free wraps — cotton covered in wax — which are often compostable.
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