Monday, December 5th, 2022

Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times


Natural gas has finally stopped leaking from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines after three ruptures were discovered in the lines last week, the Danish Energy Agency said yesterday.

Although a cause has not been formally identified, political leaders in Europe and the U.S. have suggested that the explosions that caused the ruptures were an act of sabotage, and much of the speculation about responsibility has focused on Russia, whose state-controlled energy company, Gazprom, is the main owner of the pipelines.

Neither pipeline was actively transporting gas at the time, but they still contained methane, the main component of natural gas. The leaking gas produced a half-mile-wide stream of bubbles near Denmark and Sweden, raising environmental concerns. Though methane partly dissolves in water and is not toxic, it is a greenhouse gas.

Response: A spokesman for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, dismissed the notion of Russian sabotage as “stupid” and suggested that the U.S. had been behind the attacks.

At least 125 people died on Saturday night in one of the deadliest sports stadium disasters in history, a stampede at a stadium in Malang, Indonesia. But as the death toll rises, the disaster has focused attention on the use of tear gas by the police in such a tightly packed stadium. Many have called for the national police chief’s removal.

As angry fans of Arema F.C. rushed the field after their team had lost, police officers began shooting tear gas canisters into the crowd and beating fans with batons, witnesses said. Fans attempting to flee crushed each other as they piled up against narrow exits.

Violent, often deadly rivalries between major teams are common in Indonesia. Some teams even have fan clubs with so-called commanders, who lead large groups of supporters. Flares are often thrown onto the field, and riot police squads are a regular presence at many matches. Since the 1990s, dozens of fans have been killed in soccer-related violence — but never on this scale.

Response: Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has asked the country’s police chief for an investigation into the incident. In a televised speech, he said he had also ordered the minister of youth and sports and the chairman of Indonesia’s football association to evaluate security at soccer matches. “I hope this is the last football tragedy in the country,” he said.

Analysis: The combination of large crowds and aggressive policing can prove disastrous, Rory Smith writes. When tragedies occur, he writes, “they tend to be the consequence not of fan violence but of failures of policing, security and crowd management.”

When Kwasi Kwarteng became Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer last month, his first act was to fire the Treasury’s most senior official, Tom Scholar — even as inflation surged and Britain teetered on the verge of recession. A few weeks later, Kwarteng’s own job is on the line after his surprise announcement of unfunded tax cuts sent markets into a tailspin.

The announcement bypassed a system of independent scrutiny for government economic plans and sent the pound plunging. But Kwarteng has doubled down on his plan to cut taxes — including those for the highest earners — saying that there was “more to come.” He will speak today at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

Liz Truss, the prime minister, has said that the cabinet was not consulted in advance on reducing taxes for higher earners and described the cut as Kwarteng’s decision. The chancellor is known to be a skeptic of conventional economic thinking: He is among the libertarian Brexit supporters who believe that to thrive outside the E.U., Britain must deregulate and cut taxes.

Analysis: “I don’t know whether these people have convinced themselves that the experts were wrong about Brexit and so they are going to be wrong again,” said Anand Menon, a professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London. “That just strikes me as unconscionably stupid, but that doesn’t rule it out.”

As the small pets that served as a pandemic balm are being surrendered to shelters and new homes, the great guinea pig giveaway has begun.

In New York City, so many guinea pigs have flooded the city’s animal shelter system — 600 so far this year, more than double the prepandemic numbers — that the City Council is considering a bill that would ban the sale of the animals in pet shops.

Claus-Henning Schulke is a 56-year-old German construction engineer who played a critical, if hidden, role in Eliud Kipchoge’s record-breaking Berlin Marathon win last weekend. Over 26.2 miles, Schulke handed Kipchoge his bottles of nutrition 13 times — a delicate balancing act that could be the difference between history and disappointment.

Schulke has volunteered at the Marathon for 25 years. He was randomly assigned to assist Kipchoge in 2017; since then, the Kenyan runner’s team has requested the same partnership.

As this year’s race approached, Schulke felt the pressure. “I wasn’t just nervous the night before the race; I was nervous four weeks before,” he said. “I don’t want to be blamed for something that goes wrong or disturbing the record.”

But after each flawless bottle handoff, Schulke jumped on his bike to ride to the next aid station, weaving through pace cars and camera crews. With every successful handoff, his fist pumps rose higher into the air. “A lot of spectators were shouting, ‘Bottle Claus, Bottle Claus,’ when I was passing on the road,” Schulke said.

For more: Read our profile of the greatest-ever marathon runner.


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