The prospects for a renewed nuclear agreement could improve with Mr. Raisi’s victory. Ayatollah Khamenei appeared to be stalling the current talks as the election approached. But American diplomats and Iranian analysts said that there could be movement in the weeks between Mr. Rouhani’s departure and Mr. Raisi’s ascension.

A deal finalized then could leave Mr. Rouhani with the blame for any unpopular concessions and allow Mr. Raisi to claim credit for any economic improvements once sanctions are lifted.

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Iranians Vote in Presidential Election, but Mood is Pessimistic

TEHRAN — The line outside the Tehran polling station was short and sedate on Friday morning, nothing like the energized down-the-block crowd that usually turns out for presidential elections in Iran.

But when Abdolnaser Hemmati, the moderate in the race, showed up to vote, the sidewalk outside the polling station, set up at the Hosseinieh Ershad religious institute, suddenly crackled to life.

“Your views are useless for this country,” one heckler shouted at Mr. Hemmati, the former governor of Iran’s central bank, holding up his phone to immortalize the moment.

Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s judiciary chief, who is close to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

death in a U.S. airstrike last year brought crowds of mourners onto the streets.)

“Despite all the shortages and shortcomings, we love our nation, and we will defend it to the last drop of blood,” said Marziyeh Gorji, 34, who works in a government office and said she had voted for Mr. Raisi because of his ties to revolutionary figures and his experience. “The people are upset, I understand that. But not voting is not the solution.”

She motioned to her 5-year-old twin sons, who wore buttons featuring General Suleimani’s face. “I will raise them to be like General Suleimani,” she said.

At Lorzadeh mosque in south Tehran, a poor and religiously conservative neighborhood, Muhammad Ehsani, 61, a retired government employee, said his ballot was an expression of faith in the ideals of the Islamic revolution that brought Iran’s current leadership to power.

Being a citizen was like riding a bus, he said. If things were not going well — as every voter agreed they were not — the problem was with the driver, not with the bus.

“What should we do?” he said. “It’s not logical to sit at home and not get on. It’s logical to get another company, another driver.”

Draped across the entrance of the mosque was a banner with a picture of General Suleimani next to the words, “The Islamic Republic is considered a shrine. Those who are voting are defending the shrine.”

The morning’s voting was marred by widespread reports of electronic voting systems malfunctioning and going offline from polling stations across Iran, according to Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. As polls opened Friday morning, voters showed up to hear that they could not vote, and multiple polling stations had to delay their opening by more than an hour, Tasnim reported.

“This is an epidemic of ballot boxes malfunctioning now,” said Kian Abdollahi, Tasnim’s editor in chief, during a live election report on Clubhouse, the audio-only social media app. “This is unacceptable given concerns about low election turnout.”

Tehran’s governor confirmed that there were technical problems with electronic voting systems at 79 polling stations across the capital.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the problems.

Outside the Hosseinieh Ershad polling station, Shabna, 40, a government employee who works in information technology and also gave just one name, was alternately throwing her fist in the air as she chanted “I support Hemmati” and tugging her colorful head scarf, which was slipping amid all the excitement, back into place.

“We want to stop this engineered election,” she said, explaining that she believed Mr. Hemmati, as an economist, was best qualified to turn the economy around. A minute later, she was locked in an argument with a Hemmati critic.

But most voters interviewed on Friday did not seem to have such strong views about any particular candidate. They were there to vote because they always had, or because they believed in the system.

Efat Rahmati, 54, a nurse, said it was strange that the Iranian authorities had excluded so many candidates from the race, a fact that many Iranians said had paved the way for Mr. Raisi to win. But she had still decided to vote, partly out of a personal liking for Mr. Raisi, and partly because the authorities “have more knowledge than me about this issue,” she said. “I think Raisi was better than the rest anyway.”

Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting from New York.

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For Biden, Europe Trip Achieved 2 Major Goals. And Then There’s Putin and Russia.

GENEVA — President Biden had three big tasks to accomplish on his first foreign trip since taking office: Convince the allies that America was back, and for good; gather them in common cause against the rising threat of China; and establish some red lines for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he called his “worthy adversary.”

He largely accomplished the first, though many European leaders still wonder whether his presidency may yet be just an intermezzo, sandwiched between the Trump era and the election of another America First leader uninterested in the 72-year-old Atlantic alliance.

He made inroads on the second, at least in parts of Europe, where there has been enormous reluctance to think first of China as a threat — economically, technologically and militarily — and second as an economic partner.

Mr. Biden expressed cautious optimism about finding ways to reach a polite accommodation with Mr. Putin. But it is far from clear that any of the modest initiatives the two men described on Wednesday, after a stiff, three-hour summit meeting on the edge of Lake Geneva, will fundamentally change a bad dynamic.

when he refers to Beijing’s actions against the Uyghur population and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities as genocide.

So Mr. Biden toned down his autocracy vs. democracy talk for this trip. And that worked.

Yet while “Biden has gotten words from the Europeans, he hasn’t gotten deeds,” said James M. Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Settling some trade issues is a very good start. But it’s not how you start, but how you finish, how you translate the sentiments in the communiqués into common policies, and that will be very difficult.’’

Mr. Biden carefully choreographed the trip so that he demonstrated the repairs being made to the alliance before going on to meet Mr. Putin. Mr. Biden made clear he wanted to present a unified front to the Russian leader, to demonstrate that in the post-Trump era, the United States and the NATO allies were one.

That allowed Mr. Biden to take a softer tone when he got to Geneva for the summit meeting, where he sought to portray Mr. Putin as an isolated leader who has to worry about his country’s future. When Mr. Biden said in response to a reporter’s question that “I don’t think he’s looking for a Cold War with the United States,’’ it was a signal that Mr. Biden believes he has leverage that the rest of the world has underappreciated.

Mr. Putin’s economy is “struggling,’’ he said, and he faces a long border with China at a moment when Beijing is “hellbent” on domination.

“He still, I believe, is concerned about being ‘encircled,’ ” Mr. Biden said. “He still is concerned that we, in fact, are looking to take him down.” But, he added, he didn’t think those security fears “are the driving force as to the kind of relationship he’s looking for with the United States.”

He set as the first test of Mr. Putin’s willingness to deal with him seriously a review of how to improve “strategic stability,’’ which he described as controlling the introduction of “new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now that reduce the times of response, that raise the prospects of accidental war.”

It is territory that has been neglected, and if Mr. Biden is successful he may save hundreds of billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on hypersonic and space weapons, as well as the development of new nuclear delivery systems.

But none of that is likely to deter Mr. Putin in the world of cyberweapons, which are dirt cheap and give him an instrument of power each and every day. Mr. Biden warned during his news conference that “we have significant cyber capability,” and said that while Mr. Putin “doesn’t know exactly what it is,” if the Russians “violate these basic norms, we will respond with cyber.”

The U.S. has had those capabilities for years but has hesitated to use them, for fear that a cyberconflict with Russia might escalate into something much bigger.

But Mr. Biden thinks Mr. Putin is too invested in self-preservation to let it come to that. In the end, he said, just before boarding Air Force One for the flight home, “You have to figure out what the other guy’s self-interest is. Their self-interest. I don’t trust anybody.”

David E. Sanger reported from Geneva and Steven Erlanger from Brussels.

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One of the world’s largest diamonds has been unearthed in Botswana

Written by Oscar Holland, CNNHande Atay Alam, CNN

One of the world’s largest diamonds has been unearthed in Botswana, the country’s government has announced.
The 1,098-carat stone, believed to be the third largest “gem-quality” diamond ever found, was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday.
The discovery was made earlier this month at the Jwaneng mine, around 75 miles from the country’s capital, Gaborone. The mine is operated by Debswana, a diamond company jointly owned by Botswana’s government and the De Beers Group, according to its official website.
An official government Twitter account wrote that “proceeds from the diamond will be used to advance national development in the country.”
The 1,098-carat stone, pictured in Gaborone, Botswana.

The 1,098-carat stone, pictured in Gaborone, Botswana. Credit: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

“Debswana should use this latest discovery as an inflection point, for the mine to use its technology to realize more of these large discoveries,” it added.

Masisi’s office also posted a series of pictures showing the diamond being presenting to the president and his cabinet.

Officially opened in 1982, the Jwaneng mine usually yields between 12.5 million and 15 million carats of diamonds a year, according to Debswana. This month’s find is the largest gem unearthed by the company since diamonds were first discovered in Botswana in 1967, the government said.

At present, the largest diamond ever recorded is the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, found in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan was subsequently cut into smaller stones, some of which form part of British royal family’s crown jewels.

The second largest discovery is believed to be the Lesedi La Rona, a 1,109-carat stone found by Canadian firm Lucara Diamond at the Karowe mine, also in Botswana, in 2015. The diamond was sold to luxury jeweler Graff for $53 million two years later.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds the diamond as First Lady Neo Jane Masisi looks on.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds the diamond as First Lady Neo Jane Masisi looks on. Credit: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Rough diamonds are usually classified as being gem-quality, near-gem or industrial-quality, depending on their color, clarity, size and shape.

So while another, even larger diamond was found in Botswana in 2019 — a 1,758-carat stone dubbed Sewelô — experts said it could not be considered entirely gem-quality. The stone was purchased by French luxury brand Louis Vuitton in 2020 for an undisclosed sum.

Speaking to CNN at the time of Sewelô’s discovery, Rob Bates, a blogger on the diamond and jewelry industries, told CNN that only “a handful” of companies in the world know how to “economically cut” such large rough diamonds.

“But it’s always an exciting moment when a mine coughs up a huge stone like that,” he said. “It’s good for the business, good for the country of Botswana.”

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Live Updates: Summit Over, Putin and Biden Cite Gains, but Tensions Are Clear

military threats to human rights concerns. Some were longstanding, others of newer vintage.

During the Cold War, the prospect of nuclear annihilation led to historic treaties and a framework that kept the world from blowing itself up. At this meeting, for the first time, cyberweapons — with their own huge potential to wreak havoc — were at the center of the agenda.

But Mr. Putin’s comments to the media suggested the two leaders did not find much common ground.

In addition to his denials that Russia had played a destabilizing role in cyberspace, he also took a hard line on human rights in Russia.

He said Mr. Biden had raised the issue, but struck the same defiant tone on the matter in his news conference as he has in the past. The United States, Mr. Putin said, supports opposition groups in Russia to weaken the country, since it sees Russia as an adversary.

“If Russia is the enemy, then what organizations will America support in Russia?” Mr. Putin asked. “I think that it’s not those who strengthen the Russian Federation, but those that contain it — which is the publicly announced goal of the United States.”

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Biden Raises Human Rights and Cybersecurity With Putin

Mr. Biden discussing his meeting with Mr. Putin.

I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else. It’s for the American people, fighting Covid-19, rebuilding our economy, re-establishing relationships around the world with our allies and friends and protecting the American people. That’s my responsibility as president. I also told him that no president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have in our view. That’s just part of the DNA of our country. So human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him. It’s not about just going after Russia when they violate human rights. It’s about who we are. This is about practical, straightforward, no-nonsense decisions that we have to make or not make. We’ll find out within the next six months to a year, whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters. We’ll find out whether we work to deal with everything from release of people in Russian prisons or not. We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order because, look, the countries that most are likely to be damaged — the failure to do that — are the major countries.

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Mr. Biden discussing his meeting with Mr. Putin.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden said on Wednesday that “I did what I came to do” in his first summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Speaking after the summit in Geneva, Mr. Biden said the two leaders had identified areas of mutual interest and cooperation. But he said he had also voiced American objections to Russia’s behavior on human rights, and warned that there would be consequences to cyberattacks on the United States.

Any American president representing the country’s democratic values, Mr. Biden said, would be obliged to raise issues of human rights and freedoms. And so he said had discussed with Mr. Putin his concerns over the imprisonment of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny and warned there would be “devastating” consequences if Mr. Navalny were to die in prison.

Mr. Biden also brought up the detentions of two American citizens in Russia, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, he said.

On the issue of cybersecurity, Mr. Biden said he had argued that certain parts of the infrastructure need to be off limits to cyberattacks. He said he had provided Mr. Putin with a list of critical areas, like energy, that must be spared. Mr. Biden also said the two leaders had agreed to enlist experts in both countries to discuss what should remain off limits and to follow up on specific cases.

“We need to have some basic rules of the road,” Mr. Biden told reporters after the summit.

And if Russia continues to violate what he called the basic norms of responsible behavior, he said, “We will respond.”

Mr. Biden made clear that, during his discussions with Mr. Putin, there were no threats, no talk of military intervention and no mention of what specific retaliation the United States would take in such cases. But Mr. Biden said that the United States was fully capable of responding with its own cyberattacks — “and he knows it.”

Mr. Biden said “there’s much more work to do,” but declared over the course of his weeklong European trip, he had shown that “the United States is back.”

He also said Russia stood to lose internationally if it continued to meddle in elections. “It diminishes the standing of a nation,”Mr. Biden said.

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Mr. Putin told reporters Wednesday that there had been “no hostility” in his first meeting with Mr. Biden.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday repeated well-worn denials of Russian mischief and tropes about American failings, as he spoke to the press after his first summit with President Biden.

But between those familiar lines, he left the door open to deeper engagement with Washington than the Kremlin had been willing to entertain in recent years. On issues like cybersecurity, nuclear weapons, diplomatic spats and even prisoner exchanges, Mr. Putin said he was ready for talks with the United States, and he voiced unusual optimism about the possibility of achieving results.

“We must agree on rules of behavior in all the spheres that we mentioned today: That’s strategic stability, that’s cybersecurity, that’s resolving questions connected to regional conflicts,” Mr. Putin said at a nearly hourlong news conference after the summit. “I think that we can find agreement on all this — at least I got that sense given the results of our meeting with President Biden.”

Mr. Putin’s focus on “rules of behavior” sounded a lot like the “guardrails” that American officials have said they hope to agree on with Russia in order to stabilize the relationship. “Strategic stability” is the term both sides use to refer to nuclear weapons and related issues.

To be sure, there is no guarantee that the United States and Russia will make progress on those fundamental issues, and American officials fear Russian offers of talks could be efforts to tie key questions up in committees rather than set clear red lines. But in recent years, substantive dialogue between the two countries has been rare, making Wednesday’s promises of new consultations significant.

But Mr. Putin fell back on familiar Kremlin talking points to bat away criticisms, pointing to supposed human rights violations in the United States and denying Russian complicity in cyberattacks. He also refused to budge in response to questions over his repression of dissent inside Russia and the imprisonment of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny. As he has said in the past, he repeated that the Kremlin does not see domestic politics as up for negotiation or discussion.

“If you ignore the tiresome whataboutism, there were some real outcomes,” said Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation in Arlington, Va. “Russia is not in the habit of confessing its sins and seeking forgiveness. Particularly under Putin.”

The main outcomes to Mr. Charap were the agreement on U.S.-Russian dialogue on strategic stability and cybersecurity, as well as the agreement for American and Russian ambassadors to return to their posts in Moscow and Washington. Mr. Putin also said there was “potential for compromise” on the issue of several Americans imprisoned in Russia and Russians imprisoned in the United States.

To tout his renewed willingness to talk — while acknowledging the uncertainty ahead — Mr. Putin quoted from Russian literature.

“Leo Tolstoy once said: ‘There is no happiness in life — there are only glimmers of it,’” Mr. Putin said. “I think that in this situation, there can’t be any kind of family trust. But I think we’ve seen some glimmers.”

Mr. Biden and the first lady earlier this month.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

After President Biden met his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, the two men did not face the news media at a joint news conference.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke first, followed by Mr. Biden, in separate news conferences, a move intended by the White House to deny the Russian leader an international platform like the one he received during a 2018 summit in Helsinki with President Donald J. Trump.

“We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward, and a solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting,” a U.S. official said in a statement sent to reporters this weekend, “both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns.”

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On Wednesday, President Biden met with the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, in Geneva. The two global leaders are meeting as tensions between Washington and Moscow have escalated over the last year.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Top aides to Mr. Biden said that during negotiations over the meetings the Russian government was eager to have Mr. Putin join Mr. Biden in a news conference. But Biden administration officials said that they were mindful of how Mr. Putin seemed to get the better of Mr. Trump in Helsinki.

At that news conference, Mr. Trump publicly accepted Mr. Putin’s assurances that his government did not interfere with the 2016 election, taking the Russian president’s word rather than the assessments of his own intelligence officials.

The spectacle in 2018 drew sharp condemnations from across the political spectrum for providing an opportunity for Mr. Putin to spread falsehoods. Senator John McCain at the time called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Mr. Putin’s limousine arriving at the Villa La Grange on Wednesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Piggybacking on the attention to Russia with the Biden-Putin meeting on Wednesday, the European Union issued a long and pessimistic report on the state of relations between Brussels and Moscow.

“There is not much hope for better relations between the European Union and Russia anytime soon,” said Josep Borrell Fontelles, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief, introducing the report. It was prepared in advance of a summit meeting of European leaders next week at which the bloc’s future policy toward Russia will be on the agenda.

That discussion has been delayed several times by other pressing issues, including the pandemic.

“Under present circumstances, a renewed partnership between the E.U. and Russia, allowing for closer cooperation, seems a distant prospect,” Mr. Borrell said in a statement, introducing the 14-page report prepared by the European Commission.

The report urges the 27-member bloc to simultaneously “push back” against Russian misbehavior and violations of international law; “constrain” Russia’s efforts to destabilize Europe and undermine its interests, especially in the Western Balkans and neighboring post-Soviet states; and “engage” with Russia on common issues like health and climate, “based on a strong common understanding of Russia’s aims and an approach of principled pragmatism.”

The ambition, Mr. Borrell said, is to move gradually “into a more predictable and stable relationship,” a similar goal to that expressed by the Biden administration.

Mr. Borrell had an embarrassing visit to Moscow in February as he began to prepare the report. He stood by without reacting in a joint news conference as his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, called the European Union an “unreliable partner.”

As they were meeting, Moscow announced that diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden had been expelled for purportedly participating in “illegal protests” to support the jailed opposition politician Aleksei A. Navalny, a fact Mr. Borrell discovered only later through social media.

He defended the trip, telling the European Parliament that he “wanted to test whether the Russian authorities are interested in a serious attempt to reverse the deterioration of our relations and seize the opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue. The answer has been clear: No, they are not.”

Relations have worsened since then with overt Russian support for a crackdown against democracy and protests in Belarus.

Soldiers working with artillery at a base in Khlibodarivka, Ukraine, in April.
Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Even before the summit between the United States and Russia got underway on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials played down the prospect for a breakthrough on one of the thornier issues on the agenda: ending the war in eastern Ukraine, the only active conflict in Europe today.

Ukraine said it would not accept any arrangements made in Geneva between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin on the war, which has been simmering for seven years between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian Army, officials said.

Before the summit’s start, Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said that Ukraine’s entry into NATO would represent a “red line” for Russia that Mr. Putin was prepared to make plain on Wednesday. Mr. Biden said this week that Ukraine could join NATO if “they meet the criteria.”

The Ukrainian government has in recent years dug in its heels on a policy of rejecting any negotiation without a seat at the table after worry that Washington and Moscow would cut a deal in back-room talks. The approach has remained in place with the Biden administration.

“It is not possible to decide for Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday. “So there will be no concrete result” in negotiations in Geneva, he said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister drove the point home again on Tuesday.

“We have made it very clear to our partners that no agreement on Ukraine reached without Ukraine will be recognized by us,” Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister, told journalists. Ukraine, he said, “will not accept any scenarios where they will try to force us to do something.”

Ukraine will have a chance for talks with the United States. Mr. Biden has invited Mr. Zelensky to a meeting in the White House in July, when a recent Russian troop buildup along the Ukrainian border is sure to be on the agenda.

Russia massed more than 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border this spring. Despite an announcement in Moscow of a drawdown, both Ukrainian and Western governments say that only a few thousand soldiers have departed, leaving a lingering risk of a military escalation over the summer.

With Donald J. Trump in Osaka, Japan, in 2019.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

With Barack Obama in New York in 2015.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

With George W. Bush in Washington in 2005.

Credit…Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

With Bill Clinton in Moscow in 2000.

Credit…Dirck Halstead/Liaison
President Donald J. Trump with President Vladimir V. Putin during a joint news conference in Helsinki in 2018.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

If President Biden wanted an example of a summit that did not go according to plan, he needed only to look back to 2018.

That year, President Donald J. Trump flew to Helsinki to meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the first face-to-face meeting between the two and a highly anticipated moment given the then-ongoing investigations of Russian interference and cooperation with Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

It might have been a chance for Mr. Trump to push back against those accusations by offering a forceful denunciation of Russia’s actions in private, and again during a joint news conference by the two men.

Instead, standing on the stage by Mr. Putin’s side, Mr. Trump dismissed the conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian meddling and said, in essence, that he believed Mr. Putin more than he did the C.I.A. and other key advisers

“They said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.” He added that he didn’t see any reason Russia would have been responsible for hacks during the 2016 election. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

It was the kind of jaw-dropping assertion that U.S. administrations usually strive to avoid in the middle of highly scripted presidential summits. Critics lashed out at Mr. Trump for undermining his own government and for giving aid and comfort to an adversary. Even Republican allies of the president issued harsh denunciations.

“It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected — immediately,” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker and a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump.

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A Look Back at Trump’s 2019 Meeting With Putin

Former President Donald J. Trump met with Vladimir V. Putin in June of 2019, where he warned the Russian president not to interfere with the U.S. election.

“You don’t have a problem with Russia, we have — you don’t have a problem. Thank you very much, everybody, it’s a great honor to be with President Putin, his representative, my representative. We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament and some little protectionism, perhaps, in a very positive way. And we’re going to discuss a lot of different things. We’ve had great meetings we have a very, very good relationship.” Reporter: “Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?” [reporters shouting questions] Reporter: “What about the Ukrainian —” “Don’t, don’t meddle in the election.”

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Former President Donald J. Trump met with Vladimir V. Putin in June of 2019, where he warned the Russian president not to interfere with the U.S. election.

There was nothing about the one day Helsinki summit that was normal. Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump were so chummy that the Russian president gave Mr. Trump a soccer ball to take home as a gift. Mr. Trump thanked him and bounced the ball to Melania Trump, the first lady, in the front row, saying he would take it home to give it to his son, Barron.

(Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary at the time, later issued a statement saying that the ball — like all gifts — had been examined to make sure it had not been bugged with listening devices.)

In a statement issued as Mr. Biden headed to Europe last week, Mr. Trump once again called his meeting with Mr. Putin “great and very productive” and he defended supporting the Russian president over his intelligence aides.

“As to who do I trust, they asked, Russia or our ‘Intelligence’ from the Obama era,” he said in a statement. “The answer, after all that has been found out and written, should be obvious. Our government has rarely had such lowlifes as these working for it.”

The former president also took a cheap shot at his successor in the statement, warning him not to “fall asleep during the meeting.”

One thing was certain — Mr. Biden did not follow through on Mr. Trump’s request that when Mr. Biden met with Mr. Putin “please give him my warmest regards!”

Health workers waiting for Covid patients on Monday at a hospital complex in Moscow.
Credit…Maxim Shipenkov/EPA, via Shutterstock

In the United States, fireworks lit up the night sky in New York City on Tuesday, a celebration meant to demonstrate the end of coronavirus restrictions. California, the most populous state, has fully opened its economy. And President Biden said there would be a gathering at the White House on July 4, marking what America hopes will be freedom from the pandemic.

Yet this week the country’s death toll passed 600,000 — a staggering loss of life.

In Russia, officials frequently say that the country has handled the coronavirus crisis better than the West and that there have been no large-scale lockdowns since last summer.

But in the week that President Vladimir V. Putin met with Mr. Biden for a one-day summit, Russia has been gripped by a vicious new wave of Covid-19. Hours before the start of the summit on Wednesday, the city of Moscow announced that it would be mandating coronavirus vaccinations for workers in service and other industries.

“We simply must do all we can to carry out mass vaccination in the shortest possible time period and stop this terrible disease,” Sergey S. Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said in a blog post. “We must stop the dying of thousands of people.”

It was a reversal from prior comments from Mr. Putin, who said on May 26 that “mandatory vaccination would be impractical and should not be done.”

Mr. Putin said on Saturday that 18 million people had been inoculated in the country — less than 13 percent of the population, even though Russia’s Sputnik V shots have been widely available for months.

The country’s official death toll is nearly 125,000, according to Our World in Data, and experts have said that such figures probably vastly underestimate the true tally.

While the robust United States vaccination campaign has sped the nation’s recovery, the virus has repeatedly confounded expectations. The inoculation campaign has also slowed in recent weeks.

Unlike many of the issues raised at Wednesday’s summit, and despite the scientific achievement that safe and effective vaccines represent, the virus follows its own logic — mutating and evolving — and continues to pose new and unexpected challenges for both leaders and the world at large.

Displaced Syrian men at a refugee camp in Idlib last year.
Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

The conflict in Syria — which has now raged for 10 years and counting — was on the meeting agenda for President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as they met on Wednesday.

Since the start of the war, Russia has supported President Bashar al-Assad and his forces, and in 2015 it launched a military intervention with ground forces in the country to prop up the then-flailing government. In the years since, government forces have regained control of much of the country, with the support of Russia and Iran, as Mr. al-Assad’s forced tamped down dissent and carried out brutal attacks against Syrian civilians.

The United States also became deeply involved in the conflict, backing Kurdish forces in the country’s north and conducting airstrikes in the fight against the Islamic State. It has maintained a limited military presence there. Both the United States and Russian forces have found themselves on opposite sides of the multifaceted conflict on numerous occasions.

After years of failed attempts at peace in Syria as the humanitarian toll has continued to mount, Lina Khatib, the director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House, a British think tank, said the moment could be ripe for the two major powers to chart a path forward.

She said that “despite taking opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, there is potential for a US-Russian compromise,” and that the summit could be the best place to begin that process.

“The Biden administration must not waste the opportunity that the U.S.-Russian summit presents on Syria,” Ms. Khatib wrote in a recent piece before the meeting in Geneva. “While the focus of various U.S. government departments working on Syria is on the delivery of cross-border aid, fighting the Islamic State and planning an eventual exit for U.S. troops, all these problems are products of the ongoing conflict, and solving them requires a comprehensive strategy to end it.”

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Russian and American Media Scuffle Before Diplomacy Meeting

A chaotic scrum between American and Russian reporters erupted on Wednesday before closed-door meetings between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

[reporters arguing] “Let me get up there —” “We’re with them, we’re part of the U.S. —” “I’m not in charge of your press.” “I need to get up with that camera, though, guys, I’m in sound. I need to get up —” [reporters arguing] “One, two, three. One, two, three.” “He’s setting the camera. He’s setting the camera.” “OK, so audio doesn’t go in yet?” “Not yet.” “Let’s go. Let’s go.” “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me. Stop pushing. Don’t push me.” “Guys, there’s a cord here. There’s a cord here.”

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A chaotic scrum between American and Russian reporters erupted on Wednesday before closed-door meetings between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

American and Russian reporters engaged in a shoving match on Wednesday outside the villa where President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia were meeting, stranding much of the press outside when the two leaders began talking.

The chaotic scrum erupted moments after Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin shook hands and waved to reporters before closed-door meetings with a handful of aides.

President Guy Parmelin of Switzerland had just welcomed the leaders “in accordance with its tradition of good offices” to “promote dialogue and mutual understanding.”

But shortly after the two leaders entered the villa, reporters from both countries rushed the side door, where they were stopped by Russian and American security and government officials from both countries. There was screaming and pushing as both sides tried to surge in, with officials yelling for order.

White House officials succeeded in getting nine members of their 13-member press pool into the library where Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin were seated against a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling books, along with each of their top diplomats and translators. The two leaders had already begun to make very brief remarks before reporters were able to get in the room.

Inside, more scuffling erupted — apparently amusing to the two leaders — as Russian officials told photographers that they could not take pictures and one American reporter was shoved to the ground. The two leaders waited, at moments smiling uncomfortably, for several minutes before reporters were pushed back out of the room as the summit meeting began.

“It’s always better to meet face to face,” Mr. Biden said to Mr. Putin as the commotion continued.

Chaotic scenes are not uncommon when reporters from multiple countries angle for the best spot to view a world leader, often in cramped spaces and with government security and handlers pushing them to leave quickly.

But even by those standards the scene outside the villa in this usually bucolic venue was particularly disruptive. Russian journalists quickly accused the Americans for trying to get more people into the room than had been agreed to, but it appeared that the Russians had many more people than the 15 for each side that had been negotiated in advance.

“The Americans didn’t go through their door, caused a stampede,” one Russian reporter posted on Telegram.

In fact, reporters from both countries had been told to try to go through a single door, and officials for both countries at times were stopping all of the reporters from entering, telling them to move back and blocking the door.

When American officials tried to get White House reporters inside, the Russian security blocked several of them.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arriving in Geneva on Wednesday.
Credit…Pool photo by Alessandro Della Valle

Wednesday’s Geneva summit got off to an auspicious start: President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia landed on time.

His plane landed at about 12:30 p.m., an hour before he was set to meet President Biden, who had arrived in Geneva the previous evening. Mr. Putin is known for making world leaders wait — sometimes hours — for his arrival, one way to telegraph confidence and leave an adversary on edge.

But this time Mr. Putin did not resort to scheduling brinkmanship.

The summit’s start was laced with delicate choreography: Mr. Putin arrived first, straight from the airport, and was greeted on the red carpet in front of a lakeside villa by President Guy Parmelin of Switzerland. About 15 minutes later, Mr. Biden arrived in his motorcade, shook hands with Mr. Parmelin and waved to reporters.

The Swiss president welcomed the two leaders, wishing them “fruitful dialogue in the interest of your two countries and the whole world.” He then stepped aside, allowing Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin to approach each other, smiling, and shake hands.

Russian officials on Wednesday sought to put a positive last-minute spin on the meeting.

“This is an extremely important day,” a deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, told the RIA Novosti state news agency hours before the summit’s start. “The Russian side in preparing for the summit has done the utmost for it to turn out positive and have results that will allow the further deterioration of the bilateral relationship to be halted, and to begin moving upwards.”

Even before Mr. Putin landed, members of his delegation had arrived at the lakeside villa where the meeting is being held. They included Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, who joined Mr. Putin in a small-group session with Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken at the start of the summit; and Valery V. Gerasimov, Russia’s most senior military officer.

Police officers from across Switzerland — the words “police,” “Polizei” and “polizia” on their uniforms reflecting the country’s multilingual cantons — cordoned off much of the center of Geneva on Wednesday.

The city’s normally bustling lakefront was off limits, and the park where President Biden and Mr. Putin were meeting was protected by razor wire and at least one armored personnel carrier.

Inside the leafy Parc la Grange, overlooking Lake Geneva, the police directed journalists to two separate press centers — one for those covering Mr. Putin, one for those covering Mr. Biden. As the reporters waited for the leaders to arrive, a Russian radio reporter went on air and intoned that Lake Geneva had become “a lake of hope.”

Villa La Grange in Geneva.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A storied villa on the shores of Lake Geneva is sometimes described as having “a certain sense of mystery about it,” but there was little mystery this week about why the mansion and the park surrounding it were closed off.

Visitors were coming.

The Villa la Grange, an 18th-century manor house at the center of Parc la Grange, was the site of the meeting on Wednesday between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin.

Set in one of Geneva’s largest and most popular parks, the site is known not just for its lush gardens, but also for its role as a setting for important moments in the struggle between war and peace.

In 1825, the villa’s library — home to over 15,000 works and the only room to retain the villa’s original decorative features — hosted dignitaries of a European gathering that aimed to help Greeks fighting for independence.

Designed by the architect Jean-Louis Bovet and completed in 1773, the villa was owned by the Lullin family and primarily used as a summer residence before it was bought by a merchant, François Favre, in 1800.

It cemented its place in history in 1864, when it was the site of a closing gala for officials who signed the original 1864 Geneva Convention, presided over by Henri Dunant, a founder of the International Red Cross. An attempt to ameliorate the ravages of war on both soldiers and civilians, it set minimum protections for people who are victims of armed conflict.

After World War II, a new draft of the conventions was signed in an attempt to address gaps in international humanitarian law that the conflict had exposed.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI, who traveled to the park to celebrate Mass for a congregation of tens of thousands, pointed to the villa’s history as he spoke about the risk of nuclear conflagration.

He spoke about the opposing forces of love and hate and called for “generous peacemakers.”

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Photographs reveal the joy and hardships of gay fatherhood in the US

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Keeping you in the know, Culture Queue is an ongoing series of recommendations for timely books to read, films to watch and podcasts and music to listen to.

A family of two dads and two young sons lay sprawled among white bed sheets, their hair mussed, pillows pushed aside during the reflexive movements of sleep. The boys take up most of the space despite their small frames; one child reaches his arm across his father’s neck, their faces pressed together in a tender hug.

Such a photograph would have been extraordinarily rare just decades ago, but now it is one of many published in the book “Dads,” a four-year visual archive of gay fatherhood across America that began in 2016. The dad responsible for the book is Bart Heynen, a Belgian portrait photographer who now lives in Brooklyn. And though the early morning photo he took of his own family sleeping was shot in Antwerp, he included it among the collection of images from New York, Utah, Alabama, Nebraska, Minnesota, California, and all the other states he visited to take portraits of fathers at home.

“I felt a little bit lonely as a gay dad — although there are two of us — but lonely in the sense that all the other families I knew were straight parents,” Heynen said in a video call, explaining why he began photographing the series. “I also thought it was important for (my kids) to see other families with gay dads.”

"Dads" is a four-year photo series of gay fathers around the country.

“Dads” is a four-year photo series of gay fathers around the country. Credit: Bart Heynen/powerHouse Books

Heynen has been with his partner Rob Heyvaert for 25 years after sharing an elevator ride in their building in Antwerp. When they began their relationship, same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in in Belgium, and kids were far from Heynen’s mind. Even in their progressive country, same-sex adoption wasn’t legalized until 2003, and paid surrogacy is still banned.

When, a decade ago, Heynen and Heyvaert wanted to start a family, they decided to look for an egg donor and surrogate far from home, in California — a state with more progressive and inclusive laws. (In the US, while same-sex parents have fought for their rights since the 1960s and 1970s, the laws for paid surrogacy remain patchwork by state.)

Now they have their 10-year-old twins, Ethan and Noah, who often joined Heynen on his shoots. Heynen recalled that Ethan, fascinated by other two-father families, loved to ask them, “Who’s the papa and who’s the daddy?”

The spectrum of fatherhood

“Dads” seeks to show the full spectrum of fatherhood in the US: married couples, single fathers and widowers; families in the cities and the suburbs; men of different races, ethnicities and religion; and family units that include close relationships to surrogates.

And the book is publishing at a time when their rights are still being contested at the country’s highest court. This month, the Supreme Court is expected to decide a case between the city of Philadelphia and a Roman Catholic foster agency that could have broad ramifications on whether religious adoption agencies can turn away same-sex couples.

“For many people, the book will be an introduction to gay fatherhood. And so I wanted to walk a fine line between showing that our families are the same as any other straight family,” he explained. “But at the same time, we have a lot of unique characteristics that are not found in straight families, starting with creating the family.”

Heynen was often present for special moments, including the first hours of a newborn's life.

Heynen was often present for special moments, including the first hours of a newborn’s life. Credit: Bart Heynen/powerHouse Books

Including some of the women who acted as surrogates for the family was particularly important. For Heynen, they represent additional love and care and help illustrate some of the decision-making that, though not exclusive to them, all gay fathers must contend with. Adoption or surrogacy? Who will be the biological parent? How much will they share with their kids? Will the surrogate be transactional in nature, or will someone close to the family carry the child to term?

In Heynen and Heyvaert’s case, they met the birth mother in California only one month before Ethan and Noah were born due to the rules of the agency they used.

“We were extremely nervous…and then it was a wonderful (but) very intense moment,” Heynen recalled. “I took photographs because I wanted to show my kids all of us together so they could see because they’re not allowed to see their biological mom until they’re 18.”

Changing the image

Heynen’s images often reveal these decisions and the hardships and joy they bring. In one instance, he photographed Mow and Chris cradling their newborn at a gas station during their 14-hour car ride from Tennessee back to their home in New York, as paid surrogacy was not allowed in New York until earlier this year. Another portrait shows the deep bonds of an entire extended family involved in a baby’s birth: Elliot and Matthew are pictured in Omaha, Nebraska with their daughter, Uma, as well as Elliot’s sister and Matthew’s mother, who were Uma’s egg donor and surrogate, respectively.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, Heynen spent the day with Bryce Abplanalp and Jeffrey Wright, their two children, and Julie, their surrogate. The couple, who met as adults, were raised Mormon, serving as missionaries before eventually leaving the church.

“We always knew that we wanted to have kids… (but) we really struggled to find a surrogate because we do live in Utah,” Abplanalp said in a video call. “Most of the women are Mormon, and Mormons don’t believe in gay marriage and gays having kids.”

Heynen shows how much love can go into a single birth. Here, baby Uma is pictured with her parents, aunt (her egg donor) and grandmother (her birth mother).

Heynen shows how much love can go into a single birth. Here, baby Uma is pictured with her parents, aunt (her egg donor) and grandmother (her birth mother). Credit: Bart Heynen/powerHouse Books

After a years-long process, they met Julie, who lives a half-hour away with her husband and two kids. They now see each other every couple of weeks, with and without their children, forming a lasting bond between the two families.

“I don’t think we realized the type of relationship that we would have now,” Abplanalp said. “I mean, we’re really good friends.”

Heynen, as well as the fathers he photographed, hope that the photographs in “Dads” will dispel some of the hurtful stereotypes that still linger around gay fatherhood.

DaRel and Charles Barksdale are raising their three-year-old adopted son Braeden in Mitchellville, Maryland. Charles recalled a time when a woman asked them in an airport, “What do you guys know about taking care of babies?”

"I think that this (book) is going to hopefully help change the image of fathering," said Charles Barksdale, pictured here with husband DaRel and son Braeden.

“I think that this (book) is going to hopefully help change the image of fathering,” said Charles Barksdale, pictured here with husband DaRel and son Braeden. Credit: Bart Heynen/powerHouse Books

“I’ve worked with children my whole life,” Charles said, explaining that he works in schools as a speech pathologist. “I know a lot about taking care of babies. I think that this (book) is going to hopefully help change the image of fathering.”

Abplanalp said he and Wright have never shied away from sharing their own experiences. Abplanalp never knew when he was younger that fatherhood would be possible for him as gay man. “We don’t try to be role models or make ourselves any more important than we are,” he said. “We’re just trying to be as visible as we can to help somebody else who is in a dark place and doesn’t know everything that’s possible in the world.”

Dads,” published by powerHouse Books, is available June 29.

Add to Queue: Papas and daddies

Listen: “Daddy Squared: The Gay Dads Podcast” (2019-ongoing)

Hosted by West Hollywood couple Yan and Alex, the dads use each episode to chat parenting and relationships, and lately have been focusing each episode on the gay rights and fatherhood pathways by country, and inviting a gay father from each location on as a guest.

Watch: “Six Feet Under” (2001-2005)

This black comedy-drama of the early aughts was genre-defying and barrier-breaking in many ways, but it has been particularly hailed for the onscreen romance of Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick, who played a interracial gay couple who eventually marry and adopt two children.

Read: “The Inexplicable Logic of My Life” (2017)

This YA coming-of-age novel follows high schooler Sal, who was adopted into a loving Mexican American family by his gay father, when he begins to question his identity and place in the world during his senior year.

Watch: “Daddy & Papa” (2002)

This one-hour documentary followed the family lives of four gay families and the legal and cultural hurdles the men faced to become fathers. The director and producer is Johnny Symons, himself a gay father of an adopted son with his partner in the Bay Area.

Read: “The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant” by Dan Savage” (1999)

Savage became an internationally recognized sex columnist and activist in the 1990s and ’00s for his frank cultural insight into gay relationships and identity. This book, which became an Off-Broadway show a decade later, detailed the rollercoaster he and his boyfriend experienced in order to enter parenthood.

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Why Asia, the Pandemic Champion, Remains Miles Away From the Finish Line

SYDNEY, Australia — All across the Asia-Pacific region, the countries that led the world in containing the coronavirus are now languishing in the race to put it behind them.

While the United States, which has suffered far more grievous outbreaks, is now filling stadiums with vaccinated fans and cramming airplanes with summer vacationers, the pandemic champions of the East are still stuck in a cycle of uncertainty, restrictions and isolation.

In southern China, the spread of the Delta variant led to a sudden lockdown in Guangzhou, a major industrial capital. Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and Australia have also clamped down after recent outbreaks, while Japan is dealing with its own weariness from a fourth round of infections, spiked with fears of viral disaster from the Olympics.

the new outbreak in southern China will affect busy port terminals there. Across Asia, faltering vaccine rollouts could also open the door to spiraling variant-fueled lockdowns that inflict new damage on economies, push out political leaders and alter power dynamics between nations.

The risks are rooted in decisions made months ago, before the pandemic had inflicted the worst of its carnage.

blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine meant for Australia to control its own raging outbreak. Other shipments were delayed because of manufacturing issues.

“The supplies of purchased vaccine actually landing on docks — it’s fair to say they are not anywhere near the purchase commitments,” said Richard Maude, a senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute in Australia.

with the United States and Europe.

In Asia, about 20 percent of people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with Japan, for example, at just 14 percent. By contrast, the figure is nearly 45 percent in France, more than 50 percent in the United States and more than 60 percent in Britain.

Instagram, where Americans once scolded Hollywood stars for enjoying mask-free life in zero-Covid Australia, is now studded with images of grinning New Yorkers hugging just-vaccinated friends. While snapshots from Paris show smiling diners at cafes that are wooing summer tourists, in Seoul, people are obsessively refreshing apps that locate leftover doses, usually finding nothing.

“Does the leftover vaccine exist?” one Twitter user recently asked. “Or has it disappeared in 0.001 seconds because it is like a ticket for the front-row seat of a K-pop idol concert?”

keep its borders closed for another year. Japan is currently barring almost all nonresidents from entering the country, and intense scrutiny of overseas arrivals in China has left multinational businesses without key workers.

The immediate future for many places in Asia seems likely to be defined by frantic optimization.

China’s response to the outbreak in Guangzhou — testing millions of people in days, shutting down entire neighborhoods — is a rapid-fire reprise of how it has handled previous flare-ups. Few inside the country expect this approach to change anytime soon, especially as the Delta variant, which has devastated India, is now beginning to circulate.

has threatened residents with fines of around $450 for refusing vaccines. Vietnam has responded to its recent spike in infections by asking the public for donations to a Covid-19 vaccine fund. And in Hong Kong, officials and business leaders are offering a range of inducements to ease severe vaccine hesitancy.

Nonetheless, the prognosis for much of Asia this year is billboard obvious: The disease is not defeated, and won’t be anytime soon. Even those lucky enough to get a vaccine often leave with mixed emotions.

“This is the way out of the pandemic,” said Kate Tebbutt, 41, a lawyer who last week had just received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine at the Royal Exhibition Building near Melbourne’s central business district. “I think we should be further ahead than where we are.”

Reporting was contributed by Raymond Zhong in Taipei, Taiwan, Ben Dooley in Tokyo, Sui-Lee Wee in Singapore, Youmi Kim in Seoul and Yan Zhuang in Melbourne, Australia.

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A Top Virologist in China, at Center of a Pandemic Storm, Speaks Out

In less polarized times, Dr. Shi was a symbol of China’s scientific progress, at the forefront of research into emerging viruses.

She led expeditions into caves to collect samples from bats and guano, to learn how viruses jump from animals to humans. In 2019, she was among 109 scientists elected to the American Academy of Microbiology for her contributions to the field.

“She’s a stellar scientist — extremely careful, with a rigorous work ethic,” said Dr. Robert C. Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology employs nearly 300 people and is home to one of only two Chinese labs that have been given the highest security designation, Biosafety Level 4. Dr. Shi leads the institute’s work on emerging infectious diseases, and over the years, her group has collected over 10,000 bat samples from around China.

Under China’s centralized approach to scientific research, the institute answers to the Communist Party, which wants scientists to serve national goals. “Science has no borders, but scientists have a motherland,” Xi Jinping, the country’s leader, said in a speech to scientists last year.

Dr. Shi herself, though, does not belong to the Communist Party, according to official Chinese media reports, which is unusual for state employees of her status. She built her career at the institute, starting as a research assistant in 1990 and working her way up the ranks.

Dr. Shi, 57, obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Montpellier in France in 2000 and started studying bats in 2004 after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which killed more than 700 people around the world. In 2011, she made a breakthrough when she found bats in a cave in southwestern China that carried coronaviruses that were similar to the virus that causes SARS.

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What skeletons reveal about this painful medieval fashion trend

They were the Jimmy Choos of their day.

Known as poulaines, pointy leather shoes were the height of fashion in 14th century Britain. Medieval men and women about town, however, suffered for their fancy footwear: They got bunions.

The painful condition is common today, especially among women. Paleopathologist Jenna Dittmar was surprised to find evidence of bunions, more formally known as Hallux valgus, among the skeletal remains she was investigating for a wider project on life experience in the medieval period.

“You get degenerative changes in the bones of the feet. There’s very clear osteological signs that the toes were pushed laterally. And there’s basically holes in the bone suggesting that the ligaments were pulling away. It looks painful to look at the bone,” said Dittmar, a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, who was at the University of Cambridge while she conducted the research.

A bunion forms when the big toe becomes angled and a bony protrusion forms on the inside of the foot. The deformity is often associated with high heels and constrictive footwear, although other factors like genetics play a role. The bump can be painful and make it harder to balance.

Excavated medieval foot bones show a bunion, with lateral deviation of the big toe.

Excavated medieval foot bones show a bunion, with lateral deviation of the big toe. Credit: Jenna Dittmar

Intrigued by the unexpected prevalence of bunions, Dittmar and her colleagues analyzed a total of 177 skeletons from the 11th to the 15th centuries buried in and around Cambridge in the United Kingdom. The research team found that 27% of the skeletons dating from the 14th and 15th centuries suffered from bunions, compared with only 6% that dated back between the 11th and 13th centuries.

The 1300s saw the arrival of new styles of dress and footwear in a wider range of fabrics and colors, the researchers said, and the remains of shoes excavated in London and Cambridge by the late 14th century suggest that almost every type of shoe — for adults and children — was at least slightly pointed.

Few of the shoes have survived intact, although the Museum of London has one well preserved example on display in the Medieval London gallery, which is 31.5 centimeters (1 foot) long.
This pointed-toe medieval shoe is known as a poulaine. The artifact dates from the late 14th century and is on display at the Museum of London.

This pointed-toe medieval shoe is known as a poulaine. The artifact dates from the late 14th century and is on display at the Museum of London. Credit: Museum of London

It was unclear whether the shoes had heels, Dittmar said. Materials like wood that the heels could have been made from do not preserve well in the archaeological record.

Fashionista friars

Wealthier, higher-status individuals living in urban areas were more likely to have suffered from bunions, the study of the skeletons, which came from four different cemeteries around Cambridge, suggested.

Only 3% of the skeletons in the rural cemetery 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) south of the city and 10% of the parish graveyard in the outskirts of the town, where many working poor were buried, showed signs of bunions.

In comparison, evidence of bunions was found on 23% of those buried on the site of a charitable hospital that is now part of St. John’s College and 43% of those interred in the grounds of a former Augustinian friary — mainly clergy and wealthy benefactors.

Members of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit at work on the excavation of skeletons in 2010.

Members of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit at work on the excavation of skeletons in 2010. Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit

While friars were supposed to wear clothes that reflected a simple lifestyle of worship, it was common for clergy to wear stylish attire. Fly clergy were such a concern to church officials that they were forbidden from wearing pointed-toe shoes in 1215. That said, the decree appeared to have little effect, with further edicts on clerical dress passed in 1281 and 1342, the study noted.

More male skeletons in the study had bunions than female ones, but Dittmar said that the study sample had fewer female skeletons and the team couldn’t conclude that there was a gender divide.

The study also found the skeletons of those who died over the age 45 with Hallux valgus were also more likely to show signs of fractures that usually result from a fall. For example, fractures to upper limbs could indicate an individual tumbled forward onto outstretched arms.

“Modern clinical research on patients with Hallux valgus has shown that the deformity makes it harder to balance, and increases the risk of falls in older people,” Dittmar said. “This would explain the higher number of healed broken bones we found in medieval skeletons with this condition.”

The study was published in the International Journal of Paleopathology.

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LEGO releases 2,000-piece typewriter — and it actually moves

Written by Lianne Kolirin, CNN

Once found in virtually every office across the globe, the trusty typewriter is all but extinct.
But now LEGO has gone back in time, launching a 2,079-piece model of the gadget — complete with moving keys and carriage.

The newly launched set, aimed at adult builders, was inspired by an idea from British LEGO fan Steve Guinness.

He submitted his concept to the LEGO Ideas platform, which takes new designs dreamed up by fans, puts them to a public vote and turns them into reality. Guinness’ winning concept, which won more than 10,000 votes, will also see him receive a share of the profits from sales.

Designed to mirror the function and style of a classic typewriter, the set features a center typebar that rises each time a key is pressed. This links to the carriage, which moves across as you type, and it also features a platen roller into which real paper can be fed.

In a press release from LEGO, Guinness said: “I wanted to create something totally different from anything that LEGO has ever done before and showcase that you really can make anything out of LEGO.

“I bought a vintage typewriter for my research and then played around with bricks and the mechanism until I was happy with the design.

The letter keys move like those of traditional machines and paper can be fed into a platen roller.

The letter keys move like those of traditional machines and paper can be fed into a platen roller. Credit: Rasmus Bluhme

“I hope it will bring nostalgia to adult fans like me, and wonder and curiosity to younger fans who might not have ever seen a real typewriter!”

Federico Begher, vice-president of global marketing at the LEGO Group, said in the release: “For many, the escape from the connected world to the simplicity of the typewriter is a similar experience to the mindful process of building with LEGO bricks.

“Here, we have a LEGO set that combines these two worlds seamlessly and like its real-life counterparts, is something LEGO fans will be proud to display in their homes.”

The typewriter, which will retail at $199.99, goes on sale for members of the brand’s VIP site on June 16 and on general release from July

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