The mammoth cargo ship blocking one of the world’s most vital maritime arteries was wrenched from the shoreline and finally set free on Monday, raising hopes that traffic could soon resume in the Suez Canal and limit the economic fallout of the disruption.
Salvage teams, working on land and water for six days and nights, were ultimately assisted by forces more powerful than any machine rushed to the scene: the moon and the tides.
The ship was ultimately set free at around 3 p.m., according to shipping officials. Horns blared in celebration as images emerged on social media of the once stuck ship on the move.
But just as the tides rose and fell, optimism waxed and waned throughout the day on Monday as each bit of encouraging news was met with words of caution.
Vessels packed with the world’s goods — including cars, oil, livestock and laptops — usually flow through the canal with ease, supplying much of the globe as they traverse the quickest path from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the East Coast of the United States.
With concerns that the salvage operation could take weeks, some ships decided not to wait, turning to take the long way around the southern tip of Africa, a voyage that can add weeks to the journey and more than $26,000 a day in fuel costs.
Each bit of progress in moving the ship over the weekend was celebrated by the workers on the canal — tugboat horns blaring and shouts of joy often echoing in the desert dark.
Late Saturday, tugboat drivers sounded off in celebration of what was up to that point the most visible sign of progress since the Ever Given ran aground late Tuesday.
The 1,300-foot ship moved. It did not go far — just two degrees, or about 100 feet, according to shipping officials. But that came on top of progress from Friday, when canal officials said dredgers had managed to dig out the rear of the ship, freeing its rudder.
celebrated the moment on Twitter, writing that “Egyptians have succeeded today in ending the crisis of the stuck ship in the Suez Canal despite the great complexities surrounding this situation in every aspect.”
Egyptian national television started broadcasting live coverage of the salvage operation, a signal of the government’s confidence that the situation would soon be resolved.
Teams of engineers and experts were still huddling on the banks of the canal, going over the intricate details of the sprawling salvage effort.
The company that oversees the ship’s operations and crew, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said 11 tugboats had helped, with two joining the struggle on Sunday. Several dredgers, including a specialized suction dredger that can extract 2,000 cubic meters of material per hour, dug around the vessel’s bow, the company said.
With the Ever Given sagging in the middle, its bow and stern both caught in positions for which they were not designed, the hull had been vulnerable to stress and cracks, according to experts. Just as every high tide brought hope the ship could be released, each low tide put new stresses on the vessel.
Teams of divers inspected the hull throughout the operation and found no damage, officials said. The ship was to be inspected again after it was freed.
The plan is to tow the ship to the Great Bitter Lake, located along the canal’s route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, so traffic could once gain flow smoothly.
However, it would take some time to also inspect the canal itself to ensure safe passage. And with hundreds of ships backed up on either side, it could be days before operations return to normal.
Thomas Erdbrink contributed reporting.
President Biden wants to forge an “alliance of democracies.” China wants to make clear that it has alliances of its own.
Only days after a rancorous encounter with American officials in Alaska, China’s foreign minister joined his Russian counterpart last week to denounce Western meddling and sanctions.
He then headed to the Middle East to visit traditional American allies, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as Iran, where he signed a sweeping investment agreement on Saturday. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, reached out to Colombia one day and pledged support for North Korea on another.
Although officials denied the timing was intentional, the message clearly was. China hopes to position itself as the main challenger to an international order, led by the United States, that is generally guided by principles of democracy, respect for human rights and adherence to rule of law.
John Delury, a professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, said of China’s strategy.
As result, the world is increasingly dividing into distinct if not purely ideological camps, with both China and the United States hoping to lure supporters.
geopolitical competition between models of governance. He compared Mr. Xi to the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, “who thinks that autocracy is the wave of the future and democracy can’t function” in “an ever-complex world.”
He later called the challenge “a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies.”
declared a genocide.
quashing of dissent in Hong Kong, from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, though a Saudi statement did not mention Xinjiang.
China’s most striking alignment is with Russia, where Mr. Putin has long complained about American hegemony and its use — abuse, in his view — of the global financial system as an instrument of foreign policy.
The Russian foreign minister arrived in China last Monday railing about American sanctions and saying the world needed to reduce its reliance on the U.S. dollar.
China and Russia have drawn closer especially since Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was met with international outrage and Western penalties. While the possibility of a formal alliance remains remote, the countries’ diplomatic and economic ties have deepened in common cause against the United States. So have strategic ties. The People’s Liberation Army and the Russian military now routinely hold exercises together and have twice conducted joint air patrols along Japan’s coast, most recently in December.
The two countries announced this month that they would build a research station on the moon together, setting the stage for competing space programs, one led by China and the other by the United States.
“The latest steps and gestures by the Biden administration, seen as hostile and insulting by the Russian and Chinese leaders, have predictably pushed Moscow and Beijing even deeper into a mutual embrace,” said Artyom Lukin, a professor of international studies at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia.
report on human rights in the United States on Wednesday, using as an epigraph George Floyd’s plea to the police, “I can’t breathe.”
“The United States should lower the tone of democracy and human rights and talk more about cooperation in global affairs,” Yuan Peng, president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a government think tank, wrote the same day.
From that perspective, Mr. Xi’s outreach to North Korea and Mr. Wang’s visit to Iran could signal China’s interest in working with the United States to resolve disputes over those two countries’ nuclear programs.
Mr. Biden’s administration may be open to that. After the Alaska meetings, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken mentioned both as potential areas where “our interests intersect” with China’s.
sealed trade and investment agreements, including one with the European Union, hoping to box out Mr. Biden.
It didn’t work. The first results of Mr. Biden’s strategy emerged last week, when the United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union jointly announced sanctions on Chinese officials over Xinjiang. China’s condemnation was swift.
“The era when it was possible to make up a story and concoct lies to wantonly meddle in Chinese domestic affairs is past and will not come back,” Mr. Wang said.
China retaliated with sanctions of its own against elected officials and scholars in the European Union and Britain. Similar penalties followed Saturday on Canadians and Americans, including top officials at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government body that held a hearing this month on forced labor in Xinjiang. All affected will be barred from traveling to China or conducting business with Chinese companies or individuals.
Theresa Fallon, director of the Center for Russia Europe Asia Studies in Brussels, said China’s sanctions on Europeans were an overreaction that would drive officials into an anti-China camp.
They could also jeopardize China’s investment deal with the European Union, as many of those penalized are members of the European Parliament, whose approval is required. So could new campaigns by Chinese consumers against major Western brands like H & M and Nike.
Until now, many European Union nations have not wanted to explicitly choose sides, eschewing the kind of bipolar ideological divisions seen during the Cold War, in part because of deepening economic ties with China.
With each new twist in relations, however, clearer camps are emerging. “The Chinese mirror all the time,” Ms. Fallon said. “They always accuse people of Cold War thinking because I think that’s really, deep down, how they think.”
Chris Buckley contributed reporting, and Claire Fu contributed research.
Glynn S. Lunney, the NASA flight director who played a major role in America’s space program and was hailed for his leadership in the rescue of three Apollo 13 astronauts when their spacecraft was rocked by an explosion en route to the moon in 1973, died on March 19 at his home in Clear Lake, Texas. He was 84.
The cause was stomach cancer, his son Shawn said.
Mr. Lunney (rhymes with “sunny”), who joined NASA at its inception in 1958 and became its chief flight director in 1968, worked out of mission control in Houston in developing the elaborate procedures for the flight of Apollo 11, sending Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their pioneering journey to the moon in July 1969.
He managed the July 1975 mission in which an Apollo spacecraft with three astronauts docked with a two-man Russian Soyuz spaceship. Each vehicle carried equipment that would facilitate another linkup someday if an international rescue mission were needed. The Americans and the Russians carried out joint experiments and exchanged commemorative gifts in what became a step toward cooperation among nations in space aboard the International Space Station.
But Mr. Lunney was remembered especially for his take-charge efforts in the dramatic rescue of the Apollo 13 astronauts James L. Lovell Jr., Fred W. Haise Jr. and John L. Swigert Jr.
the hit 1995 movie “Apollo 13,” Marc McClure played Mr. Lunney.
Christopher C. Kraft Jr., NASA’s first chief flight director.
Mr. Lunney was the space agency’s fourth flight director. In that post, he was responsible for leading teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts and support personnel around the world making decisions during spaceflights.
Among the numerous achievements of his NASA career, Mr. Lunney was lead flight director for Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo flight, and Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the first moon landing.
He retired from NASA in 1985 as manager of the space shuttle program, but he continued to lead human spaceflight activities through executive posts in private industry.
Voices From the Moon” (2009), an astronaut oral history complied by Andrew Chaikin and Victoria Kohl.
“And he just brought calm to the situation,” Mr. Mattingly said. “I’ve never seen such an extraordinary example of leadership in my entire career. Absolutely magnificent.
“No general or admiral in wartime could ever be more magnificent than Glynn was that night,” he added. “He and he alone brought all of the scared people together.”
The Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, an international team of radio astronomers that has been staring down the throat of a giant black hole for years, on Wednesday published what it called the most intimate portrait yet of the forces that give rise to quasars, the luminous fountains of energy that can reach across interstellar and intergalactic space and disrupt the growth of distant galaxies.
The black hole in question is a monster 6.5 billion times as massive as the sun, and lies in the center of an enormous elliptical galaxy, Messier 87, about 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. Two years ago, the team photographed it, producing the first-ever image of a black hole; the hitherto invisible entity, a porthole to eternity. It looked like a fuzzy smoke ring, much as Albert Einstein’s equations had predicted a century ago.
The group has spent the last two years extracting more data from their observations about the polarization of the radio waves, which can reveal the shape of the magnetic fields in the hot gas swirling around the hole.
Now, seen through the radio equivalent of polarized sunglasses, the M87 black hole appears as a finely whiskered vortex, like the spinning fan blades of a jet engine, pumping matter into the black hole and energy outward into space.
two papers published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, and in a third paper, by Ciriaco Goddi of Radboud University in the Netherlands and a large international cast, that has been accepted by the same journal.
Dark demons of the cosmos
the Event Horizon Telescope, an international collaboration that now comprises some 300 astronomers from 13 institutions.
The telescope is named after the point of no return around a black hole; beyond the event horizon, all light and matter is consumed. In April 2017, when the telescope spent 10 days observing M87, it consisted of a network of eight radio observatories around the globe — “a telescope as big as the world,” as Dr. Doeleman likes to say, able to spot details as small as an orange on the moon. The team then took two years to process the data. The results came together in April 2019, when Dr. Doeleman and his colleagues presented the first-ever images — radio maps, really — of a black hole, the monster in M87.
framed by a swirling doughnut of radiant gas in the center of the galaxy Messier 87.
“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” Dr. Doeleman said at the time. The picture appeared on the front page of newspapers around the world, and a copy is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
But that was only the beginning of the journey inward.
Inside the dynamo
It took another two years for researchers to produce the polarized images released on Wednesday.
Jets and lobes of radio, X-ray and other forms of energy extend more than 100,000 light-years from the black hole in M87. Much of this radiation comes from energetic electrical particles spiraling around in magnetic fields.
The newly processed image allows the astronomers to trace these fields back to their origins, in a hot, chaotic ring of electrified gas, or plasma, about 30 billion miles across — four times as wide as the orbit of Pluto. That achievement is made possible because the light from the disk is partly polarized, vibrating more in one direction than in others.
“The direction and intensity of the polarization in the image tells us about the magnetic fields near the event horizon of the black hole,” said Andrew Chael, an astrophysicist at Princeton University who is part of the Event Horizon team.
Astronomers have debated for years whether the magnetic fields surrounding so-called low-luminosity black holes like M87 were weak and turbulent or “strong” and coherent. In this case, Dr. Chael said, the magnetic fields are strong enough to disrupt the fall of the gas and transfer energy from the spinning black hole to the jet.
“The E.H.T. images also provide hints that the bright jet in M87 is actually powered from the rotational energy of the black hole, which twists the magnetic fields as it rotates,” said Michael Johnson another Event Horizon member from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
As a result, Dr. Doeleman said, “This gives the emitted radio waves the azimuthal twist” observed in the curving pattern of the new, polarized images. He noted that azimuthal twist would be a “fine name for a cocktail.”
A byproduct of the work, Dr. Doeleman said, was that the astronomers were able to estimate the rate at which the black hole is feeding on its environment. Apparently it isn’t terribly hungry; the black hole is eating “a paltry” one-thousandth of the mass of the sun per year.
“Yet it’s enough to launch powerful jets that stretch for thousands of light years, and it’s radiant enough for us to capture it with the E.H.T.,” he said.
Dr. Doeleman is already laying the groundwork for what he calls the “next generation” Event Horizon Telescope, which will produce movies of this magnetic propulsion structure in action.
“This is really the next big question,” Dr. Doeleman said. “How do magnetic fields extract energy from a spinning black hole? We know it happens, but we don’t know how it works. To solve that, we will need to create the first black hole cinema.”
SEOUL — As it ends its first high-level diplomatic tour of Asia on Thursday, the Biden administration is banking on international alliances in the region to help stem the growing threat posed by North Korea’s ballistic missiles and nuclear capabilities.
But the country that is perhaps in the best position to influence Pyongyang is one that President Biden has increasingly viewed as an adversary: China.
Following meetings this week in South Korea and Japan, the administration finds itself facing a diplomatic stalemate of the kind that irritated former President Barack Obama and drove former President Donald J. Trump to declare his love for Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, in a manic but ultimately thwarted drive for a breakthrough.
At stake is the risk posed by North Korea’s weapons systems and its repressive domestic policies involving surveillance, torture and prison camps, which international officials have said amount to human rights violations. Recent attempts by the Biden administration to open a line of communication were rebuffed by North Korea, leaving American officials to appeal to its partners in the region to join a pressure campaign against Pyongyang.
chief financial and political benefactor, and Mr. Blinken acknowledged that Beijing “has a critical role to play” in any diplomatic effort with Pyongyang. He suggested China was also concerned about North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs.
“China has a real interest in helping to deal with this,” Mr. Blinken said. “So we look to Beijing to play a role in advancing what is, I think, in everyone’s interests.”
Whether the United States can recruit Beijing to participate will be clearer after talks later on Thursday and on Friday in Anchorage, Alaska, when China’s top two diplomats meet with Mr. Blinken and the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan. American officials have billed the talks as a blunt exchange of policy views.
economic coercion in the Indo-Pacific region.
Mr. Blinken has previously described China as America’s “biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” and the Biden administration has issued stern warnings and financial sanctions against Beijing, including on Wednesday, in response to some of its actions.
repeatedly argued that a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is possible, insisting that Mr. Kim is willing to give up his weapons and focus on economic growth should Washington provide the right incentives.
After meeting with the American envoys, Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong of South Korea said he hoped for an “early resumption of dialogue” between the United States and North Korea, and that the government in Seoul would continue to support Washington’s efforts to establish diplomatic contact with Pyongyang.
helped to bring Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim together for two summits. But after the second, in 2019, abruptly ended without an agreement on American sanctions relief or the pace of North Korean disarmament, Mr. Moon struggled to regain his relevance in negotiations. Last June, North Korea blew up the joint inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border, the first of a series of actions that threatened to reverse a fragile détente.
diatribe issued hours after the senior American envoys landed in Tokyo earlier this week, North Korea warned the Biden administration to “refrain from causing a stink.”
vowed to further advance his country’s nuclear capabilities, declaring that it would build new solid-fuel I.C.B.M.s and make its nuclear warheads lighter and more precise.
Analysts said Pyongyang was closely following this week’s trips by Mr. Blinken and Mr. Austin to Tokyo and Seoul for clues to the Biden administration’s approach. It is expected that North Korea will decide after watching Washington whether to resume weapons tests and create a new cycle of tensions to gain leverage.
a fix ever since the North Korea-United States talks broke down.”
Mr. Blinken said the American posture toward North Korea would include a mix of regional pressure options and the potential for future diplomacy when the Biden administration’s current policy review is concluded, as soon as next month.
Mr. Aum, the North Korea expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said that the policy could include plying China to do more to rein in North Korea, potentially by deploying additional weapons systems in the region or conducting larger military exercises with South Korea — both of which would irritate Beijing.
China has largely urged North Korea and the United States to resolve the impasse themselves, although it has called for sanctions relief and a pause of American military exercises with Seoul in exchange for Pyongyang freezing its nuclear and missile tests.
“All parties should work together to sustain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, said this week. “China will continue to play a constructive role in this process.”
Steven Lee Myers and John Ismay contributed reporting from Seoul.