When Sally Buzbee joined The Washington Post a year ago this month, she took over a newsroom that had nearly doubled to more than 1,000 journalists under the ownership of Jeff Bezos, who bought it in 2013. Its coverage regularly won Pulitzer Prizes.
The newspaper has continued growing in the months since. It has opened breaking news hubs in Seoul and London to become more of a 24-hour global operation. It expanded coverage of technology, climate and personal health. Its reporting won the Pulitzer Prize for public service this year.
But Ms. Buzbee is now on the defensive, yet to completely win over the newsroom and facing internal strife that has eclipsed some of her bold plans.
tweeted in unison last week in support of the newspaper’s direction.
joined The Post last June, becoming the first female executive editor in its 145-year history. She had spent her career at The Associated Press, most recently serving as executive editor. She replaced Martin Baron, who remade the newsroom over eight years to much acclaim, including 10 Pulitzer Prizes.
said was too vague and unevenly enforced. Mr. Baron faced similar tensions under his tenure, including a clash with a star reporter, Wesley Lowery. Mr. Baron threatened to fire Mr. Lowery for violations of The Post’s social media policy, including expressing political views and criticizing competitors, according to a copy of a disciplinary letter.
tweeted: “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!”
Mr. Weigel quickly deleted his tweet and apologized. Several days later, with several staff members fighting about his actions online, Ms. Buzbee suspended him for a month. In emails, she implored Post journalists to be collegial. After an employee replied to everyone in support of Ms. Sonmez, The Post cut off the ability for staff members to reply-all in a newsroom-wide email, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.
But Ms. Sonmez never stopped tweeting. She said the newspaper unevenly punished journalists for what they wrote on Twitter, and critiqued her co-workers publicly. (Ms. Sonmez previously sued The Post for discrimination after she was barred from covering stories related to sexual assault after she publicly identified herself as a victim of assault. A judge dismissed the case in March.)
termination letter sent by The Post accused her of “insubordination, maligning your co-workers online and violating The Post’s standards on workplace collegiality and inclusivity.”
Less than an hour later, Ms. Buzbee met with the features department to quell another social media flare-up.
Taylor Lorenz, a technology reporter lured to The Post from The New York Times this year, had tweeted that a miscommunication with her editor led to an inaccurate line in an article. The tweets were discussed and agreed on by Ms. Lorenz and multiple editors before she posted, said three people with knowledge of the discussions. The tweets prompted an outcry from critics on Twitter who accused her of passing the buck.
Before the corrections, Ms. Buzbee had offered the well-respected editor, David Malitz, a promotion to run the features department, according to one person with knowledge of the offer. He had agreed to take it. But several days later, Ms. Buzbee pulled the offer.
In the meeting with the features group, Ms. Buzbee fielded angry questions about Mr. Malitz’s treatment. She said he was “in no way reprimanded or punished for any errors,” according to a copy of notes taken at the meeting, but would not say what was behind her decision. She said she couldn’t talk about personnel issues.
It was at that meeting that Ms. Sullivan, The Post’s media columnist, accused Ms. Buzbee of damaging Mr. Malitz’s career, and other staff members said she hadn’t earned their trust. Some told Ms. Buzbee that their doubts stemmed from rarely hearing from her until that meeting.
Ms. Lorenz has been moved from the features staff to the technology team, according to three people with knowledge of the move. Mr. Barr has been asked to review her articles before publication, two of the people said.
On Tuesday, Ms. Buzbee met with dozens of editors in person and over videoconference, fielding questions about the recent upheaval. One editor relayed the concerns from employees who were wary of becoming editors at The Post after recent events.
Ms. Buzbee said in the meeting that she was optimistic about the future of the newspaper. She also told editors that it was their collective responsibility to protect the staff, the readers and the newspaper’s credibility.
On Wednesday evening, newsroom employees were emailed a draft of updated social media guidelines and told that senior editors would hold “listening sessions” this week to get feedback on the revisions.
The draft says that no employee is required to post or engage on social media platforms; journalists must not harm the integrity or reputation of the newsroom; and journalists are “allowed and encouraged to bring their full identity and lived experiences to their social accounts.”
The draft guidelines also note that The Post considers it a priority to protect its journalists from online harassment and attacks.
SAN FRANCISCO — Google placed an engineer on paid leave recently after dismissing his claim that its artificial intelligence is sentient, surfacing yet another fracas about the company’s most advanced technology.
Blake Lemoine, a senior software engineer in Google’s Responsible A.I. organization, said in an interview that he was put on leave Monday. The company’s human resources department said he had violated Google’s confidentiality policy. The day before his suspension, Mr. Lemoine said, he handed over documents to a U.S. senator’s office, claiming they provided evidence that Google and its technology engaged in religious discrimination.
Google said that its systems imitated conversational exchanges and could riff on different topics, but did not have consciousness. “Our team — including ethicists and technologists — has reviewed Blake’s concerns per our A.I. Principles and have informed him that the evidence does not support his claims,” Brian Gabriel, a Google spokesman, said in a statement. “Some in the broader A.I. community are considering the long-term possibility of sentient or general A.I., but it doesn’t make sense to do so by anthropomorphizing today’s conversational models, which are not sentient.” The Washington Post first reported Mr. Lemoine’s suspension.
fired a researcher who had sought to publicly disagree with two of his colleagues’ published work. And the dismissals of two A.I. ethics researchers, Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, after they criticized Google language models, have continued to cast a shadow on the group.
neural network, which is a mathematical system that learns skills by analyzing large amounts of data. By pinpointing patterns in thousands of cat photos, for example, it can learn to recognize a cat.
Over the past several years, Google and other leading companies have designed neural networks that learned from enormous amounts of prose, including unpublished books and Wikipedia articles by the thousands. These “large language models” can be applied to many tasks. They can summarize articles, answer questions, generate tweets and even write blog posts.
But they are extremely flawed. Sometimes they generate perfect prose. Sometimes they generate nonsense. The systems are very good at recreating patterns they have seen in the past, but they cannot reason like a human.
Ukrainian officials acknowledged Friday that Russian forces had taken more than three dozen small towns in their initial drive this week to seize eastern Ukraine, offering the first glimpse of what promises to be a grinding brawl by the Kremlin to achieve broader territorial gains in a new phase of the two-month-old war.
The fighting in the east — along increasingly fortified lines that stretch across more than 300 miles — intensified as a Russian commander signaled even wider ambitions, warning that the Kremlin’s forces aimed to take “full control” of southern Ukraine all the way to Moldova, Ukraine’s southwest neighbor.
While it seemed unlikely that the commander, Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekayev, would have misspoken, his warning still drew skepticism, based on Russia’s probable difficulty in starting another broad offensive and the general’s relatively obscure role in the hierarchy. But his threat could not be ruled out.
The broader war aims that he outlined at a defense industry meeting in a Russian city more than 1,000 miles away from the fighting would be far more ambitious than the downscaled goals set out by President Vladimir V. Putin in recent weeks, which have focused on gaining control of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Some political and military experts suggested the general’s statement could have been part of Russia’s continuing efforts to distract or confuse Ukraine and its allies. General Minnekayev’s official job involves political propaganda work and does not typically cover military strategy.
On Friday, fierce fighting was underway across a band of southeastern Ukraine, engulfing communities on the banks of the Dnipro River. While Ukrainian officials acknowledged that Russia had taken control of 42 small towns and villages in recent days, they said those same places could be back in Ukrainian hands before long.
Western analysts said Russia’s forces, in both the slow but largely successful fight for the southern city of Mariupol and the unsuccessful battle for Kyiv, had been battered and weakened. But rather than resting, reinforcing and re-equipping the forces, Moscow is pressing forward in the east.
The Russian military appears to be trying to secure battlefield gains — including capturing all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, or oblasts — ahead of May 9, when Moscow holds its annual celebration of its World War II victory.
“They’re not taking the pause that would be necessary to re-cohere these forces, to take the week or two to stop, and prepare for a wider offensive,” said Mason Clark, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. “They’ll likely be able to take some territory. We do not think they’re going to be able to capture the entirety of the oblasts in the next three weeks.”
In his remarks on Friday, General Minnekayev asserted that one of Russia’s goals was “full control of the Donbas and southern Ukraine.”
He said that would allow Russia to control Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, “through which agricultural and metallurgical products are delivered” to other countries. Still, despite repeated attacks, Russia has failed to seize those ports, including Odesa, a fortified city of 1 million people.
“I want to remind you that many Kremlin plans have been destroyed by our army and people,” Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on social media in response to General Minnekayev’s remarks.
General Minnekayev also issued a veiled warning to Moldova, where Moscow-backed separatists seized control of a 250-mile sliver of land known as Transnistria in 1992.
“Control over the south of Ukraine is another connection to Transnistria, where there is also evidence of oppression of the Russian-speaking population,” the general said, echoing false claims of a “genocide” against Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine that Mr. Putin used to help justify the Feb. 24 invasion.
Transnistria has never been recognized internationally — not even by Russia. But Russia keeps 1,500 soldiers there, nominally to keep the peace and guard a large Soviet-era munitions cache.
Moldova had no immediate response to the general’s statement. A poor country of 2.6 million, Moldova is considered vulnerable to further Russian incursions. It is not a member of NATO or the European Union, but it hastily applied for E.U. membership last month.
Yuri Fyodorov, a Russian military analyst, said that the broader aims detailed by General Minnekayev “from the military standpoint are unreachable.”
“All of Russia’s combat-ready units are now concentrated in the Donbas, where Russia failed to achieve any significant advances over the past five days,” Mr. Fyodorov said in an interview. General Minnekayev’s rank, he said, would generally not allow him to make such sweeping policy statements that also contradict what has been said by the country’s top leaders.
Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, declined to comment on General Minnekayev’s remarks.
As Western allies race to arm Ukraine with increasingly heavy, long-range weapons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, on a visit to India on Friday, said his country was considering sending tanks to Poland so that Warsaw could then send its own tanks to Ukraine. The Biden administration said this month that it would also help transfer Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry, in its first statement on casualties from the April 14 sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, said that one crew member had died, 27 were missing and 396 had been evacuated. Relatives of at least 10 Moskva crew members had voiced frustration over the Kremlin’s silence, which was turning into a test of its strong grip on information that Russians receive about the war.
Ukraine said it had sunk the Moskva with two missiles — an assertion corroborated by U.S. officials — while Russia claimed that an onboard fire had caused a munitions explosion that doomed the ship.
As Russia hardened its crackdown on any domestic opposition to the war, it opened a criminal case against Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian pro-democracy activist and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, for spreading “false information,” his lawyer said Friday.
Mr. Kara-Murza, 40, arrested earlier this month, faces 10 years in prison, according to the official decree against him posted online by his lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov.
It said he was being investigated for remarks he had made before Arizona lawmakers on March 15. Mr. Kara-Murza told a local news outlet in Phoenix that month that Russia was committing “war crimes” in Ukraine but that “Russia and the Putin regime are not one and the same.”
“Americans should be infuriated by Putin’s escalating campaign to silence Kara-Murza,” Fred Ryan, the publisher of The Post, said in a statement.
Mr. Putin, who has become increasingly vilified in the West over the war, has not completely rejected diplomatic engagement. On Friday, he agreed to meet with the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, in Moscow next week, a stark change from his refusal to even take Mr. Guterres’s phone calls. Still, the meeting did not signal a softening of Mr. Putin’s views on Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that he has said should not even be a sovereign country.
Ukraine’s government said the fighting had made it too dangerous to organize any evacuations from a war that Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called a “horror story of violations perpetrated against civilians.”
After another attack on the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Friday, residents watched as smoke rose over shops. In the ruined port of Mariupol, hundreds of civilians and the last organized Ukrainian fighters remained trapped in a sprawling steel plant, issuing urgent pleas for help from underground bunkers. Newly released satellite images of the city showed hundreds of hastily dug graves, lending credibility to Ukrainian claims that Russia was trying to cover up atrocities.
And in the Zaporizhzhya region of south-central Ukraine, Ukrainian troops were dug in about two miles from Russian forces that were trying to push north in an effort to fortify a land bridge connecting Russian territory with the Crimean Peninsula, which Mr. Putin annexed in 2014.
The Ukrainian army’s 128th Separate Mountain Assault brigade, armed with anti-tank missiles provided by the Americans and the British as well as other advanced weapons systems, claimed to have destroyed two Russian T-72 tanks that had strayed too close to its positions.
“We are on our own land,” Captain Vitaliy Nevinsky, the brigade’s commander, said. “We are defending ourselves and knocking out this horde, this invasion of our territory.”
Anton Troianovski reported from Hamburg, Germany, Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Michael Levenson from New York. Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora from Krakow, Poland, Michael Schwirtz from Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, Tyler Hicks from Kharkiv, Ukraine, Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva, Julian E. Barnes from Washington, Farnaz Fassihi from New York and Sameer Yasir from New Delhi.
Stung by war losses and massing troops for a new battle in eastern Ukraine, Russia has warned the Biden administration to stop supplying advanced weapons to Ukrainian forces or face “unpredictable consequences,” American officials said Friday.
The Russian message — one of a series of warnings punctuated by a formal protest note, delivered on Tuesday — suggested rising concerns in Moscow that the weapons were seriously hindering Russia’s combat capabilities.
The existence of the message was disclosed as the Kremlin was funneling armaments, including attack helicopters, to Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine for the next phase of its two-month-old invasion of the country.
Over the course of the war, the U.S. administration has provided increasingly heavier weapons to the Ukrainians — including 155-mm howitzers — as the conflict has ramped up, and it announced a new $800 million arms package this week.
Back in February, as the war began, the administration worried such weaponry could unnecessarily provoke Russia. But after coming under pressure from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and members of Congress from both parties, the administration has decided to provide some of the kinds of heavy weapons it says Ukraine will require in the next phase of the war.
The Russian warnings have come as the invasion has met unexpectedly stiff Ukrainian resistance and has exposed weaknesses in Russia’s conventional armed forces.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has installed a new command to oversee the Ukraine war and this past week publicly suggested for the first time that Russia’s goals were limited to securing the Donbas, the section of eastern Ukraine bordering Russia where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting for eight years.
Russia’s goals when its military invaded on Feb. 24 appeared far more ambitious, with plans to besiege and capture the capital, Kyiv, in the north, cutting off Mr. Zelensky’s government from the rest of the former Soviet republic, which Mr. Putin has said he does not even consider a country.
That strategy backfired and Russian forces retreated last month. They also have failed to completely seize the strategic southeast port of Mariupol despite relentless bombardments that have turned that once bustling city of 450,000 into a wasteland of death and war’s destructive horrors.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine, told CNN on Friday that Ukrainian troops were still in control of Mariupol, but that the city had been “wiped off the face of the earth by the Russian Federation, by those who will never be able to restore it.”
In what appeared to be another military embarrassment for Russia that it has sought to cover up, a senior U.S. defense official said Friday that Russia’s Black Sea flagship Moskva, a missile cruiser that sank Thursday, had been struck by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles, and not crippled by an accidental fire and explosion during a storm, as the Kremlin has asserted.
It was the first American corroboration of Ukraine’s claims that its Neptune missiles — a newly deployed weapon with a 190-mile range — had hit the ship, which was struck 65 miles south of the port of Odesa.
The loss of the Moskva was more than just a humiliation, as it could now seriously impair any Kremlin plans for an amphibious assault on Ukraine’s southern coast. The loss also raised questions about Russian dominance of Ukraine’s airspace and the apparent inability of the Moskva, a sophisticated warship, to evade or intercept the Neptunes with its own defense systems.
The U.S. official said that American intelligence assessments had indicated an unspecified number of casualties, contradicting Russian claims that all crew members had been safely evacuated.
Russia’s warship, the Moskva, was hit by missiles
about 65 nautical miles south of Odesa,
according to a Defense official.
Seized in 2014
A ship with similar dimensions
and features was seen about
75 nautical miles from Odesa.
Seen in port
20 nautical miles
Russia’s warship, the Moskva, was hit
by missiles about 65 nautical miles
south of Odesa, according to a Defense official.
Seized in 2014
A ship with similar
features was seen
about 75 nautical
miles from Odesa.
Seen in port
20 nautical miles
The Russian diplomatic protest note, called a démarche, was sent through normal channels, two administration officials said, and was not signed by Mr. Putin or other senior Russian officials. But it was an indicator, one administration official said, that the weapons sent by the United States were having an effect.
American officials said the tone of the note was consistent with a series of public Russian threats, including to target deliveries of weapons as they moved across Ukrainian territory.
Officials said the note did not prompt any special concern inside the White House. But it has touched off a broader discussion inside the Pentagon and intelligence agencies about whether the “unpredictable consequences” could include trying to target or sabotage some of the weapons shipments while still in NATO territory, before they are transferred to Ukrainians for the final journey into the hands of Ukrainian troops. The delivery of the protest note was first reported by The Washington Post.
The weapons President Biden authorized this week for transfer to the Ukrainians include long-range artillery that is suited for what American officials believe will be a different style of battle in the open areas of the Donbas, where Russian forces appear to be massing for an attack in coming days.
Pentagon officials were insistent in the run-up to the war that the United States provide only defensive weaponry that would avoid escalation.
Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, described in an interview at the Washington Economic Club on Thursday how he and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had reviewed weapons requests. They went over each item with their Ukrainian counterparts, talking about what the United States had in its stocks and what it could deliver quickly.
Reports by pro-Kremlin media have highlighted antitank systems and other Western weapons used by Ukrainian forces, promoting the idea that Russia is not at war with Ukraine but with an American-led alliance seeking to destroy Russia. Mr. Biden and his aides have denied that, saying that they wished to avoid direct conflict with Russia and had no interest in American-engineered regime change.
In Moscow, commentators have been increasingly calling on Russia to strike Ukrainian roads and railroads to inhibit the weapons transfers. While Russia has targeted many of Ukraine’s airports, the country’s ground transportation network remains largely intact.
“The time has come not to speak, but to attack,” Viktor Baranets, a military columnist for Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s biggest tabloid, said on Friday. “Train echelons must be destroyed along with the railways.”
Russia’s concern may partly be over the accuracy Ukraine showed in hitting the Moskva, one of its most sophisticated warships.
The Russian démarche echoed the public rhetoric of officials in Moscow, who have been warning for weeks that Western arms deliveries to Ukraine would prolong the war and be met with a tough response.
It came as the level of concern among Russian officials over the impact of Western arms has been increasing, said Andrei Kortunov, the director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research organization close to the Kremlin.
“It seems the United States and the West in general are right now testing the limits of Russian tolerance when it comes to weapons deliveries,” Mr. Kortunov said. “It’s clear that these volumes are already so significant that they can affect the course of the hostilities, and this is raising concerns.”
A Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, said on Friday that Russia was “making it clear to the Americans and other Westerners” that attempts to hamper what Russia is calling its “special military operation” in Ukraine and increase Russian losses would be “curbed in a tough manner.”
He added that NATO vehicles carrying weapons across Ukrainian territory would be “viewed by us as legitimate military targets.” His comments came in an interview with Tass, the state-run news agency.
NATO hands off weapons to the Ukrainians in ways that seek to avoid having the alliance’s vehicles traverse Ukrainian soil. But Mr. Ryabkov’s comments have heightened concerns about whether Russia would take the risk of striking inside NATO territory.
When Mr. Putin announced his “special military operation” on Feb. 24, he said that those “who may be tempted to interfere” in Ukraine would face consequences as severe “as you have never seen in your entire history.”
“No matter how the events unfold, we are ready,” Mr. Putin said at the time. “All the necessary decisions in this regard have been taken.”
But Russia has so far appeared careful not to escalate the conflict in a way that could draw NATO countries more directly — for instance, not striking weapons convoys crossing into Ukraine from Poland.
“There are still fears regarding strikes that may hit the territory of NATO member countries,” Mr. Kortunov said. “One certainly does not want to create a pretext for some further escalation.”
David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper reported from Washington, and Anton Troianovski from Istanbul. Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora from Krakow, Poland; Michael Schwirtz from Lviv, Ukraine; and Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt from Washington.
Shortly after Russia passed a new censorship law that effectively criminalized accurate reporting on the war in Ukraine, CNN executives on two continents gathered for an emergency video call to figure out what would happen next.
The 24-hour news network had employed numerous correspondents in Russia since the latter years of the Soviet Union. Now their future in the country, and perhaps their safety, were up in the air.
Senior producers in New York and London conferred with lawyers at CNN headquarters in Atlanta and reporters in Moscow about the new law, which raised the prospect of 15-year prison terms for journalists who called the war in Ukraine a “war.” Within hours, the network ceased broadcasting in Russia, joining other Western news outlets — including the BBC, Bloomberg News and ABC News — that temporarily or partly suspended their Moscow-based operations.
“When it comes to a potential threat to somebody, that far and away outweighs everything else in the consideration,” Michael Bass, CNN’s executive vice president of programming, said in an interview. “It would be better for our reporting and our coverage of the story to continue reporting every single day and multiple times a day from Russia, but an assessment had to be made of what can be done for your people.”
In an echo of the exodus of journalists from Afghanistan after the Taliban swept through the country last year, media executives and editors are engaged in a high-stakes debate about risk in Russia. Is it prudent, they ask their reporters over secure apps each day, to gather news in an increasingly hostile and isolated country? If not, is it feasible to continue from outside its borders?
“There is a constant minute-to-minute triage of that balance,” said Matthew Baise, director of digital strategy at Voice of America, the U.S. government broadcaster, which until recently employed several journalists reporting from Russia. “Every day, we’re attempting to adapt to the situation there while not jeopardizing people’s lives, but we also have to have a way to get reporting out of the country.”
Now a dozen Voice of America employees have left Russia. and others are lying low, Mr. Baise said.
Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, said in an interview from Kyiv, Ukraine, that “it’s a huge blow to not be able to do the kind of journalism we all aspire to do in Russia at the moment.”
“It’s not just a global audience — there are a lot of Russians inside Russia who look to international news outlets to get a more well-rounded perspective,” said Ms. Ward, who has been reporting from Ukraine for nearly two months. One crucial perspective that can be lost, she said, is “how Russia is viewing this war, what ordinary Russians think about it.”
Inside Ukraine, journalists are facing more direct — and potentially lethal — risks. Brent Renaud, an American documentary filmmaker, was fatally shot in the head on Sunday in a suburb of Kyiv. On Monday, a Fox News correspondent, Benjamin Hall, was hospitalized after he was injured outside Kyiv.
Days earlier, Ms. Ward described via telephone how she and her CNN crew work from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. each day, starting by assessing whether it is safe to travel outside their hotel. Often, spotty cellular service and security concerns force them to improvise: A 15-minute live dispatch from a subway station, where hundreds of Ukrainians were sheltering from a bombardment, was filmed on a producer’s phone.
For now, in Russia, the threat to journalism is statutory, but still dire: Under the new law, many correspondents there face the prospect of yearslong prison terms for doing their jobs. That has led to a stunning disintegration of Russia’s independent media, and left international news outlets racked with uncertainty.
Amnesty International said on Thursday that 150 journalists had fled the country to avoid the new law, which Marie Struthers, the group’s director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, called “a scorched-earth strategy that has turned Russia’s media landscape into a wasteland.”
Amid the strangled flow of outside news, some have gone to great lengths to disrupt the information blackout inside Russia. On Monday, a state television employee burst onto the live broadcast of Russia’s most-watched news show, yelling, “Stop the war!” and holding up a sign that said, “They’re lying to you here.” The employee, Marina Ovsyannikova, was detained after the protest.
A bill introduced last week would create a register of anyone involved, currently or in the past, with media outlets or other organizations that Russia has deemed a “foreign agent.”
News organizations have scrambled to find a working solution as the cohort of credible outlets shrinks and threatens to leave audiences inside and outside the largest nation in the world blind to its dealings.
“There are many other parts of the world where it is unsafe to be a journalist and where newsrooms are having these debates and discussions,” said Damian Radcliffe, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon. “But what’s different here is that this is such a huge, high-profile story that those internal debates are playing out in the public domain in a much more overt way.”
Last week, The New York Times said it would move its editorial staff out of Russia, and The Washington Post said it would protect Moscow-based journalists by removing bylines and datelines from certain stories. Condé Nast said it had suspended its publishing operations there. Correspondents for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation left Russia on March 6.
“It’s definitely a balancing act, and that’s why we are monitoring the situation closely and taking the necessary time to fully understand the new law,” said Chuck Thompson, a spokesman for the Canadian broadcaster.
Some outlets decided to stay put. The German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF said they planned to resume reporting from Moscow after a suspension. But the coverage will focus on the political, economic and social situations in Russia — such as the effects of economic sanctions on civilians — while the war in Ukraine will be covered from outside the country.
The BBC said last week that “after careful deliberation” it would restart its English-language reporting from Russia. (Its Russian-language correspondents have stopped working.) The broadcaster appointed Steve Rosenberg, its longtime Moscow correspondent, to be its Russia editor, and produced segments on public sentiment and McDonald’s closing its stores.
Still, BBC correspondents “have to be wary and careful about what language they use,” said Jamie Angus, a top executive who oversees news output.
On the air, Mr. Rosenberg describes the fighting as “what the Russians are calling a special military intervention.” Analysis that refers more explicitly to a war or an invasion can be delivered from London, Mr. Angus said.
The BBC has begun broadcasting through alternative channels like shortwave radio and TikTok in hopes of eluding Russian censors. Voice of America said that one day last week, 40 percent of its Russian audience had reached its coverage through censor-evading apps such as Psiphon and nthLink. Its Facebook page has also gotten an unusual surge in traffic from Italy, a sign that some Russian citizens may be using VPN services to bypass information blockades.
“There are no challenges that are insurmountable today in the digital world — we just need to be agile,” said Alen Mlatisuma, the managing editor of Voice of America’s Eurasia division.
Deutsche Welle, Germany’s state-owned broadcaster, had 35 people working in Russia, which was also the hub for coverage of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics.
Last month, the Russian government withdrew the broadcaster’s accreditation and shut down its Moscow studio. Deutsche Welle’s website is now blocked in Russia, and viewership for its Russian Facebook channel plunged. The outlet has pulled all of its reporters out of Russia, said a spokesman, Christoph Jumpelt.
“The fact that they have revoked our credentials and physically kicked us out of the country, and made it impossible to work inside Russia as officially credentialed journalists, doesn’t mean that we cannot continue to cover Russia from inside Russia,” Mr. Jumpelt said. “There are many, many ways to get access to information.”
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Dec 26 (Reuters) – U.S. airlines canceled more than 1,300 flights on Sunday as COVID-19 thinned out the number of available crews, while several cruise ships had to cancel stops after outbreaks on board, upending the plans of thousands of Christmas travelers.
Commercial airlines had canceled 1,318 flights within, into or out of the United States by mid-afternoon, according to a tally on flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.
At least three cruise ships were also forced to return to port without making scheduled port calls after COVID-19 cases were detected on board, according to multiple media reports.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
It was the third straight day of pain for some Americans traveling over the weekend as the Christmas holidays, typically a peak time for travel, coincided with a rapid spread of the Omicron variant nationwide.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, warned of rising U.S. cases in coming days and potentially “overrun…hospitals, particularly in those regions in which you have a larger proportion of unvaccinated individuals.”
“It likely will go much higher,” he said of the Omicron-driven surge even as President Joe Biden last week unveiled new actions aimed at containing the latest wave and continued urging vaccinations and other prevention strategies.
With rising infections, airlines have been forced to cancel flights with pilots and cabin crew needing to quarantine while poor weather in some areas added to travelers woes.
Enjoli Rodriguez, 25, whose Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) flight from Los Angeles to Lexington, Kentucky, was canceled on Christmas Eve, was one of thousands still stranded on Sunday.
Delta rebooked Rodriguez through Detroit, but that flight was delayed so she missed the connection.
Speaking from the Detroit airport on Sunday, Rodriguez said she was surrounded by angry passengers, flustered airline representatives and families with young children in limbo.
“I’ve run into a lot of people sharing their horror stories here. We’re all just stuck in Michigan, Detroit, heading different places,” Rodriguez, who was rebooked on a later flight to Kentucky, told Reuters.
A total of 997 flights were scrapped on Christmas Day and nearly 700 on Christmas Eve. Thousands more were delayed on all three days.
A Delta Airlines spokesperson said “winter weather in portions of the U.S. and the Omicron variant continued to impact” its holiday weekend flight schedule but that it was working to “reroute and substitute aircraft and crews.”
United Airlines also said it was working to rebook impacted passengers, while a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said its cancellations were all weather related.
Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Queens, New York City, U.S., December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
Overall, U.S. airports most heavily impacted were in Seattle, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and JFK International in New York.
A White House official, who asked not to be named, said the administration was monitoring the delays closely but noted that while they can disrupt plans “only a small percentage of flights are affected.”
Delta on Sunday canceled 167 flights or 6%; United canceled 115 flights or 5% and American canceled 83 flights or 2%, according to FlightAware.
Globally, 3,023 flights were called off and more than 13,742 were delayed, as of 8:15 p.m. EST on Sunday (0015 GMT Monday), FlightAware data showed.
COVID HITS CRUISES
Meanwhile, a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) cruise ship turned back to Ft. Lauderdale, CNN reported, and on Sunday a Carnival Corp (CCL.N) ship returned to Miami after COVID was detected onboard, although it was unclear if the cases were Omicron.
Carnival said “a small number on board were isolated due to a positive COVID test” on board its Carnival Freedom ship, which again left Miami later on Sunday for its next trip with another round of passengers.
“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant may shape how some destination authorities with limited medical resources may view even a small number of cases, even when they are being managed with our vigorous protocols. Should it be necessary to cancel a port, we will do our best to find an alternative destination,” it said in a statement.
A Holland America ship also returned to San Diego on Sunday after Mexican authorities banned it from docking in Puerto Vallarta citing onboard cases, NBC News and Fox News reported. Carnival, which owns Holland America, did not address that reported incident in its statement.
Representatives for Royal Caribbean did not respond to a request for comment.
Overall, COVID-19 outbreaks altered at least six sailings in the past week, the Washington Post reported, echoing the turmoil facing the industry after COVID erupted in early 2020.
Testing woes have compounded the travel angst, as many Americans scrambled for their status amid long lines and lack of at-home test kits amid the holiday travels.
“We’ve obviously got to do better. I mean, I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow,” Fauci told ABC’s “This Week.”
Meanwhile, some states are already bracing for the upcoming New Year’s holiday weekend, warning residents to reduce potential exposure to the virus.
“Omicron is surging statewide,” Louisiana’s health department tweeted on Sunday, noting Omicron-related hospitalizations had doubled in the past week. “We are urging everyone to take safety precautions ahead of New Year’s Eve.”
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Gabriella Borter; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh, Diane Bartz and Karen Brettell; additional writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kieran Murray, Daniel Wallis, Mark Porter and Diane Craft
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Nov 21 (Reuters) – The woman who was engaged to marry Jamal Khashoggi has asked singer Justin Bieber to cancel his scheduled Dec. 5 performance in Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city Jeddah, urging him to not perform for the slain Saudi journalist’s “murderers.”
Hatice Cengiz wrote an open letter to the singer published on Saturday in the Washington Post in which she urged Bieber to cancel the performance to “send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.”
President Joe Biden’s administration released a U.S. intelligence report in February implicating Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi’s 2018 murder in Istanbul but spared him any direct punishment. The crown prince denies any involvement.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com
“Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal,” Cengiz wrote. “Please speak out and condemn his killer, Mohammed bin Salman. Your voice will be heard by millions.”
Bieber, who is Canadian, is among a group of artists scheduled to perform as Saudi Arabia hosts the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah.
“If you refuse to be a pawn of MBS, your message will be loud and clear: I do not perform for dictators. I choose justice and freedom over money,” Cengiz wrote, using the crown prince’s initials.
Human rights groups have urged the performers to speak out against human rights issues in the kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia has a history of using celebrities and major international events to deflect scrutiny from its pervasive abuses,” Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
The advocacy group urged the performers, who also include rapper A$AP Rocky, DJs David Guetta and Tiesto and singer Jason Derulo, “to speak out publicly on rights issues or, when reputation-laundering is the primary purpose, not participate.”
Khashoggi, a Saudi-born U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of the Saudi crown prince, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the prince in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Will Dunham
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Aref Mohammad’s war against the Islamic State ended earlier this fall when his unit of Taliban fighters was ambushed by the terrorist group in eastern Afghanistan. A bullet shattered his femur, leaving him disabled and barely able to walk, never mind fight.
But for the Taliban movement he served under, now the government of Afghanistan, the war against the Islamic State was just beginning.
“If we knew where they were from, we would pursue them and destroy them,” Mr. Mohammed, 19, said from his hospital bed in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province where the Islamic State has maintained a presence since 2015.
In the two months since the Taliban took control of the country, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan — known as Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K — has stepped up attacks across the country, straining the new and untested government and raising alarm bells in the West about the potential resurgence of a group that could eventually pose an international threat.
Islamic State fighters carried out a coordinated attack with gunmen and at least one suicide bomber on an important military hospital in the capital, killing at least 25 people.
This has placed the Taliban in a precarious position: After spending 20 years fighting as an insurgency, the group finds itself wrestling with providing security and delivering on its hallmark commitment of law and order. This has proved especially challenging for the Taliban as they try to defend themselves and civilians in crowded cities against almost daily attacks with an army that was trained for rural guerrilla warfare.
once working together with the Americans and the former government to contain the terrorist group in the east — is on the diplomatic stage.
their origin story and their record as rulers.
Who are the Taliban leaders? These are the top leaders of the Taliban, men who have spent years on the run, in hiding, in jail and dodging American drones. Little is known about them or how they plan to govern, including whether they will be as tolerant as they claim to be. One spokesman told The Times that the group wanted to forget its past, but that there would be some restrictions.
In 2015, the Islamic State in Khorasan was officially established in Afghanistan’s east by former members of the Pakistani Taliban. The group’s ideology took hold partly because many villages there are inhabited by Salafi Muslims, the same branch of Sunni Islam as the Islamic State. A minority among the Taliban, who mostly follow the Hanafi school, Salafi fighters were eager to join the new terrorist group.
The draw of young fighters to the Islamic State is especially pronounced in Jalalabad, where Salafi mosques have sprung up in growing numbers in recent years, providing ample recruiting grounds for the terrorist group.
The Taliban have made a show of openness to the Salafists, accepting a pledge of allegiance from some Salafi clerics earlier this month. But there is still widespread unease within their community, especially in Jalalabad.
At one Salafi religious school in the city, the Taliban cracked down on the ideology by forcing the school’s founder to flee. They have allowed boys to continue their Quranic studies but have banned Salafist works from the curriculum.
For Faraidoon Momand, a former member of the Afghan government and a local power broker in Jalalabad, the worsening economic situation in the country is also driving the Islamic State’s recruitment.
“In every society if the economy is bad, people will do what they have to do to get by,” Mr. Momand said.
As dusk fell over Jalalabad on a recent day in October, a unit of Taliban fighters belonging to the intelligence agency rode through the streets in a modified Toyota pickup, a machine gun mounted in its bed, as the streets filled with commuters and evening shoppers.
The Talibs pulled up at key intersections and checkpoints, jumping out and assisting with the screening of cars and the ubiquitous yellow three-wheeled rickshaws that jostle and honk as they throng streets. They poked their heads in, shining flashlights inside, questioning passengers, and waved them on.
“We have a court for every criminal,” said Abdullah Ghorzang, a Taliban commander. “But there is no court for ISIS-K. They will be killed wherever they are arrested.”
Victor J. Blue reported from Jalalabad, Afghanistan; Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Doha, Qatar, and Christina Goldbaum from Kabul. Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt from Washington; Safiullah Padshah from Jalalabad; and Sami Sahak from Los Angeles.
Three years after an employee revolt forced Google to abandon work on a Pentagon program that used artificial intelligence, the company is aggressively pursuing a major contract to provide its technology to the military.
The company’s plan to land the potentially lucrative contract, known as the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, could raise a furor among its outspoken work force and test the resolve of management to resist employee demands.
In 2018, thousands of Google employees signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in Project Maven, a military program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and could be used to refine the targeting of drone strikes. Google management caved and agreed to not renew the contract once it expired.
The outcry led Google to create guidelines for the ethical use of artificial intelligence, which prohibit the use of its technology for weapons or surveillance, and hastened a shake-up of its cloud computing business. Now, as Google positions cloud computing as a key part of its future, the bid for the new Pentagon contract could test the boundaries of those A.I. principles, which have set it apart from other tech giants that routinely seek military and intelligence work.
contract with Microsoft that was canceled this summer amid a lengthy legal battle with Amazon. Google did not compete against Microsoft for that contract after the uproar over Project Maven.
The Pentagon’s restart of its cloud computing project has given Google a chance to jump back into the bidding, and the company has raced to prepare a proposal to present to Defense officials, according to four people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly. In September, Google’s cloud unit made it a priority, declaring an emergency “Code Yellow,” an internal designation of importance that allowed the company to pull engineers off other assignments and focus them on the military project, two of those people said.
On Tuesday, the Google cloud unit’s chief executive, Thomas Kurian, met with Charles Q. Brown, Jr., the chief of staff of the Air Force, and other top Pentagon officials to make the case for his company, two people said.
Google, in a written statement, said it is “firmly committed to serving our public sector customers” including the Defense Department, and that it “will evaluate any future bid opportunities accordingly.”
The contract replaces the now-scrapped Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, the Pentagon cloud computing contract that was estimated to be worth $10 billion over 10 years. The exact size of the new contract is unknown, although it is half the duration and will be awarded to more than one company, not to a single provider like JEDI.
Project Maven in 2017 and prepared to bid for JEDI. Many Google employees believed Project Maven represented a potentially lethal use of artificial intelligence, and more than 4,000 workers signed a letter demanding that Google withdraw from the project.
Soon after, Google announced a set of ethical principles that would govern its use of artificial intelligence. Google would not allow its A.I. to be used for weapons or surveillance, said Sundar Pichai, its chief executive, but would continue to accept military contracts for cybersecurity and search-and-rescue.
weapons or those that direct injury.”
Lucy Suchman, a professor of anthropology of science and technology at Lancaster University whose research focuses on the use of technology in war, said that with so much money at stake, it is no surprise Google might waver on its commitment.
“It demonstrates the fragility of Google’s commitment to staying outside the major merger that’s happening between the D.O.D. and Silicon Valley,” Ms. Suchman said.
Google’s efforts come as its employees are already pushing the company to cancel a cloud computing contract with the Israeli military, called Project Nimbus, that provides Google’s services to government entities throughout Israel. In an open letter published last month by The Guardian, Google employees called on their employer to cancel the contract.
The Defense Department’s effort to transition to cloud technology has been mired in legal battles. The military operates on outdated computer systems and has spent billions of dollars on modernization. It turned to U.S. internet giants in the hope that the companies could quickly and securely move the Defense Department to the cloud.
awarded the JEDI contract to Microsoft. Amazon sued to block the contract, claiming that Microsoft did not have the technical capabilities to fulfill the military’s needs and that former President Donald J. Trump had improperly influenced the decision because of animosity toward Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s executive chairman and the owner of The Washington Post.
In July, the Defense Department announced that it could no longer wait for the legal fight with Amazon to resolve. It scrapped the JEDI contract and said it would be replaced with the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability.
The Pentagon also noted that Amazon and Microsoft were the only companies that likely had the technology to meet its needs, but said it would conduct market research before ruling out other competitors. The Defense Department said it planned to reach out to Google, Oracle and IBM.
But Google executives believe they have the capability to compete for the new contract, and the company expects the Defense Department to tell it whether it will qualify to make a bid in the coming weeks, two people familiar with the matter said.
The Defense Department has previously said it hopes to award a contract by April.
GAZA CITY — King Abdullah II of Jordan came under heightened scrutiny on Sunday after an alliance of international news organizations reported that he was among several world leaders to use secret offshore accounts to amass overseas properties and hide their wealth.
The king was accused of using shell companies registered in the Caribbean to buy 15 properties, collectively worth more than $100 million, in southeast England, Washington, D.C., and Malibu, Calif. The purchases were not illegal, but their exposure prompted accusations of double standards: The Jordanian prime minister, who was appointed by the king, announced in 2020 a crackdown on corruption that included targeting citizens who used shell companies to disguise their overseas investments.
The Jordanian royal court declined to provide a comment to The New York Times, but lawyers for King Abdullah told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which published the report, that his foreign properties were bought exclusively with his personal fortune and not public funds.
The claims against King Abdullah were part of a major investigation, known as the Pandora Papers, that was conducted by the ICIJ in partnership with more than a dozen international news outlets, including The Washington Post and The Guardian. Based on leaks of nearly 12 million files from 14 offshore companies, the investigation found that King Abdullah was among 35 current and former leaders, as well as more than 300 public officials, who have used offshore shell companies to disguise their wealth, and to hide the transfer of that wealth overseas.
accusing the prince of conspiring against him. The king forgave the prince, who previously embarrassed the king by speaking out against government corruption, but a court later jailed two of the prince’s alleged accomplices.
In recent months, King Abdullah attempted to shore up his standing by underscoring his reliability as a Western ally and a major player in Middle Eastern diplomacy; he met recently with President Biden and with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel, following several years of fraught relations with their predecessors.
But just as King Abdullah appeared to have turned a corner, the new revelations “might be a trigger for people to go back to the streets,” said Mr. Al Sabaileh.
King Abdullah is among dozens of current and former leaders whose overseas investments were exposed. Other leaders included President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whose alleged former lover was found to have purchased an apartment in Monaco; Prime Minister Andrej Babis of the Czech Republic, who is said to have bought property in the south of France using a complicated offshore structure; President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, who sold a London mansion to the Crown Estate, a property trust formally owned by Queen Elizabeth II; and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, who avoided paying taxes worth more than $400,000 when he and his wife Cherie obtained a London property by purchasing the offshore company that owned it.
The mechanism was legal and Mrs. Blair, who used the property as an office for her legal consultancy, told the BBC that the Blairs had only bought the building through the offshore company at the request of the sellers.