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Monday Briefing: Two Charged in Moscow Attack


Russia mourned after at least 137 people were killed when gunmen opened fire at a concert hall in a Moscow suburb, and investigators began bringing charges against those they said were responsible.

Russian state media reported that two men had been formally charged with committing a terrorist act. The men, who face a maximum of life in prison, were identified as Dalerjon Mirzoyev and Saidakrami Rachabalizoda.

There are two primary narratives about the violence on Friday night, Russia’s deadliest terrorist attack in 20 years. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, and American officials say it was the work of Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, an Islamic State offshoot that has been active in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. But on Saturday, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, did not mention ISIS in his first public remarks on the tragedy. Instead, he hinted at the possible involvement of Ukraine.

Many Russian nationalist commentators and ultraconservative hawks have also pushed the idea that Ukraine was the obvious culprit, and state news outlets barely mentioned that ISIS had claimed responsibility for the attack. Russia has not presented any evidence of Kyiv’s involvement, and Ukrainian officials have ridiculed the accusations. U.S. officials have also said that there was no indication that Ukraine played any role.

The attack dealt a political blow to Putin, a leader for whom national security is paramount.

“Russia, now, is spending about 30 percent of its budget on the military, the security services and the correctional institutions,” Valerie Hopkins, who covers Russia, told us. “It’s a huge percentage of the state’s expenditure, and it’s a gigantic apparatus. I think that there are people who have questions about how it was possible that it failed.”

What is ISIS-K? The Islamic State Khorasan was founded in 2015 by disaffected members of the Pakistani Taliban, who then embraced a more violent version of Islam. In January, the group said it was behind a bombing attack that killed 84 people in Kerman, Iran.

The New York attorney general, who brought a civil fraud suit that resulted in a $454 million judgment against Trump and his family business, might begin to collect today. The former president has been unable to secure the half-billion-dollar bond he needs to provide in case he loses a pending appeal. Unless he strikes an 11th-hour deal, the attorney general could freeze his bank accounts and begin the process of seizing some of his properties.

In one of the four criminal cases he faces, Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up hush money paid to a porn star during his 2016 campaign. A New York judge recently delayed that trial until April 15, and the hearing today will determine whether it is postponed further.

Archana Ashok Chaure has cut sugar cane in the Indian state of Maharashtra for most of her life. Last winter, she did what thousands of other women in the fields do to keep working, undistracted by pregnancies or painful periods: She got a hysterectomy. Debts to her employer mean she must continue cutting cane in the field; this keeps sugar flowing to companies like Coke and Pepsi.

The two soft-drink makers have helped turn this part of India into a sugar-producing powerhouse. But they have also profited from a brutal system of labor, a Times investigation found. Western companies have pledged to root out human rights abuses in their supply chains, but they seldom, if ever, visit the fields or mills, and they largely rely on their suppliers to oversee labor issues.

My colleagues spent months with Indian sugar cutters. Here’s what they learned.

Mickey Barreto checked into the New Yorker Hotel in Midtown Manhattan in 2018 and paid $200.57 for one night. He never left, stretching that single night into a five-year stay, and didn’t pay another dime.

But now he might pay with his freedom.

Lives lived: Laurent de Brunhoff, the French artist who made Babar the Elephant famous, died. He was 98.

The Indigenous sandworm riders of Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic “Dune” speak Chakobsa. But the book only has a few words of this fictional language. So when the novel was being adapted to the big screen, the question was: What does Chakobsa sound like?

That’s where colangers, or professional language constructors, came in. Conlangers have long given life to fictional voices in series like “Game of Thrones” and films like James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

For the “Dune” series, a specific grammatical structure was created for Chakobsa, as well as roughly 700 basic vocabulary words — not including those that are made possible by adjustments, such as when lija (to eat) becomes lijjin (a snack).

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