A yearning for close connection, for something meaningful amid a seismic, terrifying event that won’t end, is what brought two dozen people to a recent“cuddle” party.

Cuddle parties started before the war, but the people who came two Sundays ago — a mix of men and women from their early 20s to mid-60s — said they really needed them now.

The cuddlers gathered in a large, tent-like structure near the river, and as new age music played, they lied on floor cushions in a big warm heap. Some stroked their neighbor’s hair. Others clutched each other tightly, eyes closed, like it was the last embrace they’d ever share with anyone. After about 15 to 20 minutes, the heap stirred awake.

The cuddlers opened their eyes, untangled themselves, stood up and smoothed out their pants. The whole idea is to seek bodily comfort from curling up with a stranger. They found new cuddling partners and new positions.

The instructor was clear that none of this was supposed to be sexual or romantic. But still, it looked like a G-rated orgy.

This cuddling is another dimension of Kyiv’s party scene at the moment: Many social gatherings are specifically engineered to provide solace.

Maksym Yasnyi, a graphic designer, just held a 24-hour yoga party, which he said was “really cool” but it wasn’t like going out before the war.

“Before the war, Kyiv nightlife was sparkling with different colors,” he said. “You could spend the whole night going from party to party. If I allow myself to think about this, I’ll make myself really upset.”

Now, when it hits 10, Kyiv radiates a nervous energy. People drinking on the street, or out by the river, check their watches. They cap the clear plastic bottles of cider they were swigging, get up and walk quickly.

Cars move faster. More run yellow lights. The clock is ticking.

Uber prices triple, if you can find one.

Some young people, seeing the impossibility of hailing a ride, say bye to their friends and duck their heads and start running home, desperate to beat curfew.

At the stroke of 11, Kyiv stops. Nothing moves. The sidewalks lie empty.

All that energy that was building, building, building, suddenly plunges into a stunning, citywide hush.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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They Fell Deeply in Love in Bucha. One Russian Bullet Ended It All.

She grabbed his hands, crying, “Oleh, Oleh.”

“The Russians were sitting on the curb, drinking water from plastic bottles, just watching me,” she said. “They didn’t say anything, they didn’t show any emotion. They were like an audience at the theater.”

That’s when she let out a “wild cry, like something I have never heard,” her father said.

“Shoot me!” she screamed. “Shoot me and the cat!”

She was looking at the soldiers, staring at their boots, but the commander eventually lowered his gun and said, “I do not kill women.”

He gave Iryna and her father three minutes to leave.

Bucha’s population is normally around 40,000, but all but 3,000 to 4,000 residents had fled before the Russian occupation, city officials said. Around 400 civilians are thought to have been killed, meaning about one of 10 people who were here.

Some were shot execution style with hands tied behind their backs. Others were horribly beaten. Many were like Oleh: no military experience, unarmed and posing no obvious threat.

So many bodies were left on Bucha’s streets that city officials said they were worried about a plague. But they didn’t have enough workers to collect the dead. So they drafted volunteers. One of them was Vladyslav Minchenko, a tattoo artist.

“The most blood I had ever seen was in a piercing,” he said wryly.

But soon he was picking up dead people and body parts, zipping them into black bags and taking them to a communal grave outside Bucha’s main church. He retrieved Oleh’s body, with its shattered head, he said, which was verified by video evidence.

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Mass Detentions of Civilians Fan ‘Climate of Fear’ in Ethiopia

NAIROBI, Kenya — The family was startled awake by a loud bang in the middle of the night on the gate of their home on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Police officers barged in without a warrant, ransacking the living room and looking under the beds. They seized three members of the family, among them a 76-year-old, one-legged amputee yanked from bed while his sons begged to go in his place.

“They showed him no mercy even after he cried, ‘I am disabled and diabetic,’” said the man’s nephew, Kirubel, who would give only his first name for fear of reprisals.

The family is among hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Ethiopians belonging to the Tigrayan ethnic group who have been rounded up and detained in the capital and beyond in recent weeks.

routed the Ethiopian army in Tigray, swept south, recently captured two strategic towns and threatened to advance toward the capital.

On Nov. 2, the government declared a state of emergency, and the resulting roundups have swept up anyone of Tigrayan descent, many of whom had no ties to the rebels or even affinity for them. They were not just young men and women, but also mothers with children and the elderly, according to human rights advocates and interviews with nearly a dozen family members and friends of detainees.

They have been seized off the streets, in their homes and even in workplaces — including banks, schools and shopping centers — and taken to overcrowded cells in police stations and detention facilities.

Tigrayans have been targeted by the police based on a mix of hints: their surnames, details listed on identification cards and drivers licenses, even the way they speak Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia.

said Tuesday through a spokeswoman. “Its provisions are extremely broad, with vague prohibitions going as far as encompassing ‘indirect moral’ support for what the government has labeled ‘terrorist groups.’”

The ethnically motivated detentions come amid a significant rise in online hate speech, which is only adding fuel to the civil war tearing apart Africa’s second-most populous nation. Reports of massacres, ethnic cleansing and widespread sexual assault by all sides in the conflict have undermined the vision of Ethiopian unity that Mr. Abiy, the prime minister and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, promised when he rose to power more than three years ago.

The war between Ethiopian federal forces and their allies and Tigrayan rebel fighters has left thousands of people dead, at least 400,000 living in famine-like conditions and millions displaced. It risks engulfing the whole of Ethiopia and the wider Horn of Africa.

Mr. Abiy’s determination to prosecute the war seems to have been only hardened by economic threats from the Biden administration, which has imposed sanctions on his military allies in neighboring Eritrea and suspended Ethiopia from duty-free access to the U.S. market.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who is traveling to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal this week, has expressed worry that Ethiopia could “implode.”

defend the capital “with our blood” even as African and Western envoys sought to broker a cease-fire.

Police officials have defended the arrests, saying they were seizing supporters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the country’s former dominant party, which Ethiopia now classifies as a terrorist organization.

Activists, however, say the state of emergency provisions are so nebulous that they give security officials unfettered latitude. The provisions allow for the search of any person’s home or their arrest without a warrant “upon reasonable suspicion” that they cooperate with terrorist groups.

Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said “the state of emergency is legitimizing and legalizing unlawful practices” and creating “a real climate of fear.”

Many ethnic Tigrayans say they now fear leaving home. Almost all those who agreed to be interviewed declined to be identified by name for fear that they might be arrested or face retaliation.

began a military campaign in the country’s northern Tigray region, hoping to vanquish the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — his most troublesome political foe.

In Addis Ababa, security officers have demanded that landlords identify Tigrayan tenants. In one secondary school, a teacher said four Tigrayan teachers had been taken into custody as they ate lunch after officers arrived with a letter from the intelligence service containing their names.

A merchant in Addis Ababa, 38, was picked up by security officers after he opened his mobile phone accessories shop. A nearby shop owner phoned that news to the seized merchant’s wife, who said she left their two children with a neighbor and rushed to the shop — only to find it closed and her husband gone.

After a three-day search, the wife said, she found her husband in a crowded Addis Ababa detention facility with no proper bedding or food.

In Addis Ababa, rights groups say, police stations are so full of detainees that the authorities have moved the overflow to heavily guarded makeshift facilities, among them youth recreation centers, warehouses and one major prison. With no access to lawyers, some relatives of detainees say they will not approach these facilities, fearful they could be arrested too.

whistle-blower, have long accused Facebook of failing to moderate hateful incitement speech. With pressure mounting, Facebook this month deleted a post by Mr. Abiy urging citizens to “bury” the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Twitter also disabled its Trends section in Ethiopia, citing “the risks of coordination that could incite violence or cause harm.”

Timnit Gebru, an Ethiopian-born American computer scientist who spotted and reported some of the posts on Facebook, said the measures were insufficient and amounted to “a game of whack-a-mole.”

For now, many Tigrayans worry that it’s only a matter of time before they are seized. One businessman, who paid a $400 bribe for his release, said officers had told him they would come for him again.

It’s a fate Kirubel said he worried about as his disabled uncle and cousins remained detained.

“My children worry that I will not come back when I leave the house,” he said. “Everyone is afraid.”

Employees of The New York Times contributed reporting from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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Facing Droughts, California Challenges Nestlé Over Water Use

After another dry winter that threatens to worsen water shortages across California, state officials have accused a water bottling company of diverting too much water from forests in the San Bernardino area.

The officials issued a draft cease-and-desist letter to the company last week — the latest development in a battle that has dragged on for years.

The company, BlueTriton, which was known as Nestlé Waters North America until it changed its name this month after being acquired by a private equity company, includes the bottled-water brands Poland Spring and Arrowhead.

In the letter, sent on April 23, the State Water Resources Control Board said that “Nestlé has 20 days from receipt of this notice” to respond. The process could lead to a formal cease-and-desist order, and possible monetary penalties, if it is formally approved by the board.

statement, referring to a waterway that runs through the San Bernardino area, east of Los Angeles.

It said the water diversion had led to “reduced downstream drinking water supply and impacts on sensitive environmental resources.”

In an emailed statement, a spokesman for BlueTriton said that the company was “disappointed” with the move and that it would pursue legal options to correct state officials’ “misinterpretation” of California law.

“For more than 125 years, BlueTriton Brands and its predecessors have sustainably collected water from Arrowhead Springs in Strawberry Canyon,” the company said. “We take pride in being good stewards of the environment, while providing an excellent product loved by Californians.”

Strawberry Creek is not the only place in California where the company collects water, but it has become a focal point for local organizations, residents and environmentalists — especially as California struggles with water shortages, deepening droughts and devastating wildfires.

Story of Stuff, an environmental advocacy group based in Berkeley, Calif., that has filed complaints against Nestlé. “It’s a poor use of our resources.”

The U.S. Forest Service charges the company an annual fee of $2,100 to maintain its infrastructure in the Strawberry Creek area, according to The Desert Sun, which investigated Nestlé’s activities in California in 2015 and reported that the Forest Service had been allowing the company to take water from the forest using a permit that had a 1988 expiration date.

Battles over the water diversion carried out by Nestlé — and, now, BlueTriton — have been brewing for years. State officials released a report on Nestlé’s water collection in 2017, and a revised report last week. Both said the company was diverting more water than had been permitted, which the company denies.

“This investigation has been a long time coming, and it’s taken several years due to its complexity, from both a technical and a legal standpoint,” said Robert Cervantes, a supervising engineer with the state’s water board.

“We just want BlueTriton to comply with California law,” he said, “especially now that we’re heading into another drought.”

The water board officials argue that BlueTriton is allowed to collect only about 2.4 million gallons of surface water in the area annually. That restriction applies to water in creeks and streams, as well as the springs that contribute to creeks and streams — not to water that percolates underground.

The company said it collected 59 million gallons from the water system last year, of which about 40 million gallons of overflow were returned to the area.

Florida and Michigan.

Critics of the company say that its efforts to drain natural water supplies for bottling have been wasteful, and that the bottles themselves contribute to plastic waste. Since at least last year, the company has been considering selling most of its bottled water operations in the United States and Canada. The sale and renaming of Nestlé Waters North America is in line with that push.

The water being siphoned from California streams depletes the natural environment in an area that was already prone to water shortages and wildfires, Mr. O’Heaney said. The draft of the cease-and-desist letter sent to BlueTriton last week was a significant step, he said, even though it cannot yet be formally enforced.

“I hope it’s a wake-up call for them,” he said, “that the business they just bought is not being seen in a positive light by the communities in which it operates.”

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