Long sentence for a Putin critic
Vladimir Kara-Murza, an activist and journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 25 years in a penal colony over his outspoken criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The unusually harsh sentence drew international condemnation, and supporters of Kara-Murza compared it to the repression of the Stalin era.
Many Russian political activists have been prosecuted since the start of the war, but Kara-Murza’s sentence is the longest handed down yet. Ivan Pavlov, an acclaimed Russian human rights lawyer, called it “unprecedented,” and said that even Russian murderers received shorter prison terms.
The verdict will likely send a chilling message to remaining antiwar activists in Russia as the Kremlin continues to clamp down on dissent.
Background: Kara-Murza, who contributes opinion columns to The Washington Post, became known as a vocal critic of what he called a Kremlin policy of assassinating political enemies and lobbied for the use of Western sanctions to punish Russian government officials.
Clashes roil Khartoum
Intense street battles and blasts were reported yesterday in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, in a third day of fighting in which the forces of rival generals vied for control of the country.
The fighting has left many of the city’s five million residents hiding in their homes without electricity or water. Doctors and hospitals have also come under attack as they struggle to cope with mounting casualties.
A muted Ramadan in Pakistan
The season of Ramadan is normally a time of daily fasting and nightly feasting, but soaring inflation in Pakistan has led millions of families to struggle to afford the food to break their fasts.
When Ramadan began last month, inflation was at 35.4 percent — the highest in nearly five decades — according to government figures. Severe floods last fall devastated much of the country’s agricultural belt, damaging farmland for what may be years to come. The war in Ukraine has further strained Pakistan’s food supply, officials said.
Since the holiday started, at least 22 people have been killed and dozens more have been injured in stampedes and long queues at food charities and government distribution sites across Pakistan.
Analysis: The cash-poor country is facing one of the most daunting economic challenges of its history. It needs financing from the International Monetary Fund to avoid default and slipping into a recession. But to meet the terms of a deal, officials must raise taxes and slash subsidies — moves that make basics like food, gasoline and utilities even more expensive for the country’s poorest.
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The enduring appeal of the world’s first novel
“The Tale of Genji,” a 1,300-page tome written more than 1,000 years ago that is often described as the world’s first novel, follows the life of a son of the emperor of Japan. Genji has multiple affairs, and wives, and the story contains epic plot twists.
The book, which was written by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting in the emperor’s court, continuously centers female perspectives while ostensibly chronicling the escapades of a male hero.
“Genji” has maintained an unwavering grip on Japanese culture and has been subjected to countless translations, interpretations and adaptations across seemingly every possible art form: paintings, plays, dance, anime and even a rom-com.
The Times’s Tokyo bureau chief, who recently picked up the book, wrote that she expected to feel distance from the medieval text.
“Instead, I found common ground not only with my personal experience but with my reporting over six years as a correspondent in Japan,” she wrote. “The more I read, the more this ancient work made me think about how gender and power dynamics have echoed across the centuries in Japan.”
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