Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans.
Congress has begun trying to address that problem. The climate and energy package passed on Sunday by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, would give buyers of used electric cars a tax credit.
But automakers have complained that the credit would apply to only a narrow slice of vehicles, at least initially, largely because of domestic sourcing requirements. And experts say broader steps are needed to make electric cars more affordable and to get enough of them on the road to put a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions.
would eliminate this cap and extend the tax credit until 2032; used cars would also qualify for a credit of up to $4,000.
Energy industry. The bill would provide billions of dollars in rebates for Americans who buy energy efficient and electric appliances as well as tax credits for companies that build new sources of emissions-free electricity. The package also sets aside $60 billion to encourage clean energy manufacturing and requires businesses to pay a penalty for methane emissions that exceed federal limits starting in 2024.
Low-income communities. The bill would invest over $60 billion to support low-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionately burdened by effects of climate change. This includes grants for zero-emissions technology and vehicles, as well as money to mitigate the negative effects of highways, bus depots and other transportation facilities.
Fossil fuels industry. The bill would require the federal government to auction off more public lands and waters for oil drilling and expand tax credits for coal and gas-burning plants that rely on carbon capture technology. These provisions are among those that were added to gain the support of Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia.
West Virginia. The bill would also bring big benefits to Mr. Manchin’s state, the nation’s second-largest producer of coal, making permanent a federal trust fund to support miners with black lung disease and offering new incentives for companies to build wind and solar farms in areas where coal mines or coal plants have recently closed.
With so much demand, carmakers have little reason to target budget-minded buyers. Economy car stalwarts like Toyota and Honda are not yet selling significant numbers of all-electric models in the United States. Scarcity has been good for Ford, Mercedes-Benz and other carmakers that are selling fewer cars than before the pandemic but recording fat profits.
Automakers are “not giving any more discounts because demand is higher than the supply,” said Axel Schmidt, a senior managing director at Accenture who oversees the consulting firm’s automotive division. “The general trend currently is no one is interested in low prices.”
Advertised prices for electric vehicles tend to start around $40,000, not including a federal tax credit of $7,500. Good luck finding an electric car at that semi-affordable price.
Ford has stopped taking orders for Lightning electric pickups, with an advertised starting price of about $40,000, because it can’t make them fast enough. Hyundai advertises that its electric Ioniq 5 starts at about $40,000. But the cheapest models available from dealers in the New York area, based on a search of the company’s website, were around $49,000 before taxes.
Tesla’s Model 3, which the company began producing in 2017, was supposed to be an electric car for average folks, with a base price of $35,000. But Tesla has since raised the price for the cheapest version to $47,000.
pass the House, would give buyers of used cars a tax credit of up to $4,000. The used-car market is twice the size of the new-car market and is where most people get their rides.
But the tax credit for used cars would apply only to those sold for $25,000 or less. Less than 20 percent of used electric vehicles fit that category, said Scott Case, chief executive of Recurrent, a research firm focused on the used-vehicle market.
The supply of secondhand vehicles will grow over time, Mr. Case said. He noted that the Model 3, which has sold more than any other electric car, became widely available only in 2018. New-car buyers typically keep their vehicles three or four years before trading them in.
SAIC’s MG unit sells an electric S.U.V. in Europe for about $31,000 before incentives.
New battery designs offer hope for cheaper electric cars but will take years to appear in lower-priced models. Predictably, next-generation batteries that charge faster and go farther are likely to appear first in luxury cars, like those from Porsche and Mercedes.
Companies working on these advanced technologies argue that they will ultimately reduce costs for everyone by packing more energy into smaller packages. A smaller battery saves weight and cuts the cost of cooling systems, brakes and other components because they can be designed for a lighter car.
“You can actually decrease everything else,” said Justin Mirro, chief executive of Kensington Capital Acquisition, which helped the battery maker QuantumScape go public and is preparing a stock market listing for the fledgling battery maker Amprius Technologies. “It just has this multiplier effect.”
$45 million in grants to firms or researchers working on batteries that, among other things, would last longer, to create a bigger supply of used vehicles.
“We also need cheaper batteries, and batteries that charge faster and work better in the winter,” said Halle Cheeseman, a program director who focuses on batteries at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, part of the Department of Energy.
Gene Berdichevsky, chief executive of Sila Nanotechnologies, a California company working on next-generation battery technology, argues that prices are following a curve like the one solar cells did. Prices for solar panels ticked up when demand began to take off, but soon resumed a steady decline.
The first car to use Sila’s technology will be a Mercedes luxury S.U.V. But Mr. Berdichevsky said: “I’m not in this to make toys for the rich. I’m here to make all cars go electric.”
A few manufacturers offer cars aimed at the less wealthy. A Chevrolet Bolt, a utilitarian hatchback, lists for $25,600 before incentives. Volkswagen said this month that the entry-level version of its 2023 ID.4 electric sport utility vehicle, which the German carmaker has begun manufacturing at its factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., will start at $37,500, or around $30,000 if it qualifies for the federal tax credit.
Then there is the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, produced in China by a joint venture of General Motors and the Chinese automakers SAIC and Wuling. The car reportedly outsells the Tesla Model 3 in China. While the $4,500 price tag is unbeatable, it is unlikely that many Americans would buy a car with a top speed of barely 60 miles per hour and a range slightly over 100 miles. There is no sign that the car will be exported to the United States.
Eventually, Ms. Bailo of the Center for Automotive Research said, carmakers will run out of well-heeled buyers and aim at the other 95 percent.
“They listen to their customers,” she said. “Eventually that demand from high-income earners is going to abate.”
DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Portugal Construction Equipment Market – Strategic Assessment and Forecast 2022-2028” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.
Government investment in infrastructure, real estate & transport industries under National Development Plan 2030 drives the demand for construction equipment in Portugal.
The Earthmoving segment has the largest share of Portugal’s Construction equipment. The excavators held the largest share in the earthmoving segment in 2021. The growth in infrastructure investment under the national development plan 2030. The surge in civil engineering & housing projects in 2021 is expected to support the demand for excavators.
In 2021, Portugal’s government increased the public & transport infrastructure investment. The government has also shifted its focus on renewable energy resources and planned to invest $26.2 billion to upgrade the renewable energy industry in the next 10 years.
The rise in Government investment in warehouse & logistics infrastructure supports the country’s logistics & E-commerce industry growth in 2021. The surge in construction, renewable energy projects & growth in the E-commerce industry positively impact the demand for construction equipment in Portugal.
In 2021, Portugal’s recycling and waste management activities increased by 6.4%. The recycling activities is expected to grow in 2022 as the government aims to recycle 65% of waste by 2035, so demand for medium-size excavator having light weight & high swing speed are growing in recent times in the market, which is most suitable for recycling activities.
Growth in Construction, Renewable & Logistics Industries Drives the Economic Recovery
In 2020, Portugal’s economy contracted by 7.6% due to a severe decline in tourism & exports caused by the government’s lockdown measures. Construction & Manufacturing industry declined by 3.9% & 10.9% respectively.
The country’s economy slightly grew by 4% in 2021 due to increased government infrastructure investment and resilient construction industry performance. The real estate & housing industry witnessed growth in 2021, and the country’s export increased by 8.1% due to a surge in foreign demand. According to European Commission, Portugal’s economy is expected to grow by 5.8% in 2022. European Union granted $14.8 billion under Portugal’s Recovery & Resilience Plan. The government also announced an investment of $43.5 billion for infrastructure development across the country in 2021.
Expected Growth in FDI Inflow in Renewable Energy Sectors of Northern & Alentejo Region
Foreign direct investment in 2021 was increased by 38%. The manufacturing & service industries attracted maximum FDI inflow in 2021. The Northern & Lisbon Region of the country attracted more than 80% of FDI inflow. European countries like France, Germany & UK were some investors in Portugal’s economy in 2021. High growth in renewable energy sectors is expected in 2022 due to various ongoing solar projects in Porto & Mertola City of the northern & Alentejo region, respectively.
Investment In Public Infrastructure & Logistic Industry
Portugal’s government announced in 2021 to invest $45.1 billion in public infrastructure, including a high-speed railways link between Lisbon & Porto cities. This project is estimated to cost $ 4.7 billion and is expected to be completed by 2030. The government investments focused on the country’s transport & energy sectors. $22.7 billion was allocated for transport projects, and $13.7 billion was directed toward clean energy projects.
In 2022, public infrastructure projects are in progress, funded by the national budget, European Union funds, & private investment. European Union granted $14.5 billion under PRR (Portugal Recovery Resilience) plan in the second half of 2021. The construction of residential buildings is expected to grow by 5.5%, maintaining a competitive position in the real estate market. Civil engineering, which is expected to be the most dynamic segment in 2022, is expected to grow by 7.5%.
The surge in government investment in developing logistics infrastructure, the growing E-commerce sector, and rising exports positively impact Portugal’s logistics & warehousing market. The government is investing in upgrading transport infrastructure and expanding major ports such as Leixos & Sines in 2022. Portugal’s exports are expected to grow by 22% in 2022.
Shifting of Focus Towards Renewable Energy Resources
Portugal aimed to increase its renewable energy production from 20% in 2021 to 80% by 2026. In 2021, Portugal’s government planned to shift away from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar & hydro. The government planned to invest $26.2 billion to upgrade the renewable energy industry in the next 10 years. The country has committed to becoming carbon natural by 2050 and producing electricity using renewable energy resources. Recently in 2022, Portugal closed its two-coal fire plant and replaced it with 7.3 GW of hydroelectric & 5.6 GW of the onshore wind park, which fulfilled ~83% of the total capacity of coal fire plants in the region.
According to Portugal’s government, Photovoltaic solar energy had tremendous potential as it grew by more than 20% in 2021. The installed capacity of photovoltaic solar was 7,359 MW in 2021 and is expected to grow sharply in 2022 due to increasing government focus and investment.
Anti-Mining Protest Against Lithium Extraction & Rising Building Material & Labour Costs Are Major Challenges
Many environmentalists are against it as it can increase soil pollution and deforestation and can hamper the ecosystem. Anti-mining protests are observed in, especially in Northern & southern parts of the country where the Lithium mines are majorly present. The country’s environmental association wants the government should make environmental assessments & study the impact of lithium exploration on the environment. Three major Lithium extraction projects in 2022 are hampered due to local protests of villagers & environmentalists in Minas do Barroso (Boticas), Angela (Covilha & Fundao) & Romano (Montalegre) regions.
Instituto Nacional de Estatistica (INE) states that new housing construction costs will increase by 7% in 2021. The increase in the price of materials and cost of labor triggered the overall increase in the price of new houses in the Portugal market. In 2021, the price of building materials and labor rose by 8% & 5.1%, respectively.
In 2022, the building material & commodities prices increased by 18% due to a mismatch of demand and supply. Steel concrete rods increased by 54%, aluminum (61%) & Copper (47%) which is expected to have an adverse impact on the demand for new housing in the country.
Electric Equipment & Medium Size Excavators Are Gaining
Environmentalists are suggesting the government study the environmental impact of Lithium extraction. Therefore, Portugal Government introduced green mining technology. Green mining focuses on reducing carbon emissions during extraction, resulting in low environmental impact. Green mining can trigger the demand for electric construction equipment in Portugal.
Portugal’s government focused on recycling and waste management processes in 2021. The recycling of packaging increased by 6.4% in 2021 compared to 2020. Portugal government aims to increase recycle target by 55% in 2025,60% by 2030 & 65% by 2035. Government has recycling plants in the Lisbon & Porto region of the country. With the rise of recycling & waste management activities across the region, the demand for medium-sized excavators increased in 2021. Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCE) introduced the ZX300LCN-6 excavator in the Portugal market for recycling work.
Hitachi Construction Machinery, Caterpillar, Komatsu, & Liebherr are the market leaders, accounting for 23.1% of the market share in 2021.
Prominent vendors are Hitachi Construction Machinery, Caterpillar, Komatsu, Kobelco, Hyundai Construction Equipment, JCB, Liebherr & Volvo Construction Equipment.
Other prominent vendors are Liu Gong, Yanmar, Case Construction Equipment & Terex Corporation.
Hitachi Construction Machinery
Hyundai Construction Equipment
Other Prominent Vendors
CASE Construction Equipment
Auto Mecanica Alvorgenese
Sociedade Tecnica de Equipamentos e Tractores SA
For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/h05fna
LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) – Russian politicians lined up to celebrate the downfall of Boris Johnson on Thursday, casting the British leader as a “stupid clown” who had finally got his just reward for arming Ukraine against Russia.
Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign who won a resounding electoral victory in 2019 before leading the United Kingdom out of the European Union, announced he was quitting on Thursday after he was abandoned by ministers and most of his Conservative lawmakers over a series of scandals.
The Kremlin said it didn’t like Johnson either.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
“He doesn’t like us, we don’t like him either,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said shortly before Johnson stood in Downing Street to announce his resignation.
In his speech announcing he was stepping down as Conservative Party leader but planned to stay on as prime minister until a replacement was picked, Johnson addressed the people of Ukraine, pledging that Britain would “continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes”.
Russians were brutal in their assessment of Johnson, who just recently was telling colleagues that he wanted to stay in power longer than Margaret Thatcher – a steady foe of the former Soviet Union who served as British prime minister from 1979 to 1990.
Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska said on Telegram that it was an “inglorious end” for a “stupid clown” whose conscience would be blighted by “tens of thousands of lives in this senseless conflict in Ukraine”.
“The clown is going,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament. “He is one of the main ideologues of the war against Russia until the last Ukrainian. European leaders should think about where such a policy leads.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks at Downing Street, in London, Britain, July 6, 2022. REUTERS/John Sibley
Even before President Vladimir Putin ordered the Feb. 24 invasion, Johnson had repeatedly criticised Putin – casting him as a ruthless and possibly irrational Kremlin chief who was imperiling the world with his crazy ambitions.
After the invasion, Johnson made Britain one of the biggest Western supporters of Ukraine, sending weapons, slapping some of the most severe sanctions in modern history on Russia and urging Ukraine to defeat Russia’s vast armed forces. He has twice traveled to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Maria Zakharova, the top spokeswoman in Russia’s foreign ministry, said Johnson’s fall was a symptom of the decline of the West, which she said was riven by political, ideological and economic crisis.
“The moral of the story is: do not seek to destroy Russia,” Zakharova said. “Russia cannot be destroyed. You can break your teeth on it – and then choke on them.”
Johnson’s support of Ukraine has been so staunch that he has been affectionately known as “Borys Johnsoniuk” by some in Kyiv. He sometimes ended his speeches with “Slava Ukraini” – or “glory to Ukraine”.
Johnson even spoke stilted Russian in February, telling the Russian people that he did not believe the “needless and bloody” war was in their name.
Russia repeatedly dismissed him as a poorly prepared jester trying to punch far beyond Britain’s true weight.
Zakharova gleefully portrayed Johnson as the author of his own downfall.
“Boris Johnson was hit by a boomerang launched by himself,” she said. “His comrades-in-arms turned him in.”
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Frances Kerry
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve, determined to choke off rapid inflation before it becomes a permanent feature of the American economy, is steering toward another three-quarter-point interest rate increase later this month even as the economy shows early signs of slowing and recession fears mount.
Economic data suggest that the United States could be headed for a rough road: Consumer confidence has plummeted, the economy could post two straight quarters of negative growth, new factory orders have sagged and oil and gas commodity prices have dipped sharply lower this week as investors fear an impending downturn.
But that weakening is unlikely to dissuade central bankers. Some degree of economic slowdown would be welcome news for the Fed — which is actively trying to cool the economy — and a commitment to restoring price stability could keep officials on an aggressive policy path.
at or near the fastest pace in four decades, and the job market, while moderating somewhat, remains unusually strong, with 1.9 available jobs for every unemployed worker. Fed policymakers are likely to focus on those factors as they head into their July meeting, especially because their policy interest rate — which guides how expensive it is to borrow money — is still low enough that it is likely spurring economic activity rather than subtracting from it.
released Wednesday, made it clear that officials are eager to move rates up to a point where they are weighing on growth as policymakers ramp up their battle against inflation.
The central bank will announce its next rate decision on July 27, and several key data points are set for release between now and then, including the latest jobs numbers for June and updated Consumer Price Index inflation figures — so the size of the move is not set in stone. But assuming the economy remains strong, inflation remains high and glimmers of moderation remain far from conclusive, a big rate move may well be in store.
The Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, has said that central bankers will debate between a 0.5- or 0.75-percentage-point increase at the coming gathering, but officials have begun to line up behind the more rapid pace of action if recent economic trends hold.
“If conditions were exactly the way they were today going into that meeting — if the meeting were today — I would be advocating for 75 because I haven’t seen the kind of numbers on the inflation side that I need to see,” Loretta J. Mester, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said during a television interview last week.
they have signaled that they are willing to inflict some economic pain if that is what is needed to wrestle inflation back down.
500,000 jobs per month so far in 2022 and consumer spending — while cracking slightly under the weight of inflation — has been relatively strong.
Meanwhile, officials have been unnerved by both the speed and the staying power of inflation. The Consumer Price Index measure picked up by 8.6 percent over the year through May, and several economists said it probably continued to accelerate on a yearly basis into the June report, which is set for release on July 13. Omair Sharif, the founder of Inflation Insights, estimated that it could come in around 8.8 percent.
“You do probably get a few months of moderation after we get this June report,” he said.
The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the Personal Consumption Expenditures index, may have already peaked, economists said. But it still climbed by 6.3 percent over the year through May, more than three times the central bank’s 2 percent target. Many households are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of housing, food and transportation.
While there are encouraging signs that inflation might slow soon — inventories have built up at retailers, global commodity gas prices have fallen this week and consumer demand for some goods may be beginning to slow — those indicators may do little to comfort central bankers at this stage.
Card 1 of 5
What is inflation? Inflation is a loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.
What causes inflation? It can be the result of rising consumer demand. But inflation can also rise and fall based on developments that have little to do with economic conditions, such as limited oil production and supply chain problems.
Is inflation bad? It depends on the circumstances. Fast price increases spell trouble, but moderate price gains can lead to higher wages and job growth.
Can inflation affect the stock market? Rapid inflation typically spells trouble for stocks. Financial assets in general have historically fared badly during inflation booms, while tangible assets like houses have held their value better.
The Fed has been repeatedly disappointed by false dawns. Officials had hoped that inflation peaked last summer, only to watch it reaccelerate into the fall. They have been receiving regular Wall Street predictions that it might be reaching its zenith, but those have yet to prove correct.
have signaled that they expect to push rates up to about 3.4 percent by the end of the year as they try to choke off price increases. They could achieve that by raising rates by 0.75 percentage points at their coming July meeting, 0.5 percentage points in September and 0.25 percentage points in November and December, for instance.
“What you would like to do, if we can, is nip inflation in the bud before it gets entrenched in the economy,” James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said during a presentation in Zurich on June 24.
That is also the logic for making big moves sooner rather than later. Charles L. Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, told reporters a few days earlier that a 0.75 percentage point move in July was “a very reasonable place to have a discussion” and would be likely unless inflation began moderating.
The Fed will have new information by the time of its July meeting, but the central bank may prove less sensitive than usual to incoming data in today’s environment. Minor updates might do little to change a picture in which price increases have been going gangbusters for months on end and officials believe expectations of rising inflation could lurch out of control.
“The data they’re responding to has been accumulating over the past year,” said Mr. Feroli of JPMorgan. “It was realizing that, over the past year, they missed the boat on inflation.”
BRUSSELS — The European Union on Monday agreed to ban most imports of Russian oil, the harshest economic penalty yet imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and potentially the biggest sacrifice by Europe, itself.
The deal is the latest and most far-reaching demonstration that over more than three months of war, in reaction to mounting Russian aggression and atrocities, European leaders have grown willing to take steps they considered too extreme when the invasion began. They have already barred imports of Russian natural gas, cut off Russian banks from global financial networks, frozen Russian assets and sent advanced weaponry to Ukraine.
After weeks of intense wrangling, E.U. leaders meeting in Brussels endorsed an embargo on Russian oil delivered by tankers, the primary method, with commitments to reduce imports by pipeline, according to a draft agreement seen by The New York Times. The deal was announced in a late-night tweet by Charles Michel, president of the European Council, though many details remain to be hashed out.
The endorsement came as a multipronged Kremlin assault closed in on the easternmost Ukrainian-controlled city, Sievierodonetsk. Russian forces continued their pattern of bombarding cities and towns, including civilian areas, reducing them to depopulated wastelands before attempting to seize control.
At the same time, Ukraine’s military mounted a counteroffensive to retake the strategic southern city of Kherson. And a car bombing in another Russian-held city, Melitopol, hinted at the kind of fierce resistance the occupiers may face.
President Vladimir V. Putin’s war machinery is financed by Russia’s sales of crude and refined petroleum and natural gas, which account for most of the country’s export revenue, collected primarily by state-controlled energy companies. With the war driving up prices, the European Union countries alone have been paying $23 billion a month for Russian oil.
Analysts say that Russia, offering discounts compared to the prices on world markets, will continue to find some buyers for its oil, but that sales volume and profits are likely to drop significantly once the embargo takes effect.
Europe relies heavily on Russian fuels — 27 percent of the crude oil imported to the European Union comes from Russia — and while E.U. countries are scrambling for alternatives, officials have warned that the financial cost to them will be high. Other sources are expected to be more expensive, if they can be arranged; gas and oil shortages are a real possibility.
The debate over an oil embargo has also exposed the potential vulnerability of the European bloc, just as Sweden’s and Finland’s requests to join NATO have shown fractures within that alliance. Diplomats express confidence that such differences can be resolved, but they offer reminders that the unity the United States and its allies have shown so far in opposing Russia is not guaranteed.
Hungary’s strongman leader, Viktor Orban, whose country depends more than Western Europe on Russian energy, had held up any agreement on an oil embargo, calling it an “atomic bomb” to the Hungarian economy.
The dispute illustrates how the E.U. practice of requiring unanimity among the 27 member nations for major decisions can become a weakness — particularly if Mr. Orban, who has a friendly relationship with Mr. Putin, is called on to take further steps to isolate Russia.
The limited embargo that European leaders endorsed was tailored to win Mr. Orban’s support. Prohibiting Russian oil deliveries aboard tankers would eliminate two-thirds of E.U. imports, while having no effect on Hungary, a landlocked nation. Arriving at the E.U. summit meeting on Monday, Mr. Orban said of the pipeline exemption, “It’s a good approach.”
Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany, which also receive Russian oil by pipeline, were expected to commit to weaning themselves from that source; Hungary is not expected to give any such assurance.
In NATO, which also operates by consensus, Turkey has blocked the admission of Finland and Sweden, which have been sufficiently alarmed by Russia’s war on Ukraine to abandon their long-held neutrality. Western diplomats predict that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has been as contentious a partner to NATO as Mr. Orban has been to the European Union, will wring concessions from the allies but ultimately accede.
On the battlefields of the eastern Donbas region, where Russia is focused on seizing more territory, the most intense combat is around the battered, adjacent cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, among the most important remaining pockets of Ukrainian control. After weeks of shelling, Russian forces have fought their way into “the northeastern and southeastern outskirts” of Sievierodonetsk, the Ukrainian defense ministry said in a statement, adding that Russia had funneled still more war matériel from Russia into the Donbas.
Fighting across Donbas reached “maximum intensity,” said Col. Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, the defense ministry spokesman. He added, “Russian invaders shelled the entire front line, trying to hit our deep defensive positions with artillery fire.”
Amid reports of Russian war crimes against civilians, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, issued a call to residents of Russian-occupied territory to flee however they can to Ukrainian-controlled areas, as millions already have. It is hard and dangerous, she conceded, but “ultimately, it is a question of your safety and that of your children.”
A French journalist was killed on Monday near Lysychansk when a shell exploded near the evacuation bus he was riding in, according to Ukrainian and French officials, and his employer, the television news channel BFM TV. The journalist, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, suffered a lethal shrapnel wound to the neck, said Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, who said the shell was fired by Russian forces.
At least seven other journalists have been killed while covering the conflict, according to Reporters Without Borders.
The sheer weight of Russia’s military and the brutality of its tactics have yielded territorial gains in the east, but it has suffered heavy losses, and Western analysts say it is running short of ready resources.
“Russia has likely suffered devastating losses amongst its mid and junior ranking officers,” the British defense ministry said on Monday in the latest intelligence update it has made public. Battalions that the Russians are cobbling together “from survivors of multiple units are likely to be less effective.”
Perhaps most ominous for Moscow, the British cited “multiple credible reports of localized mutinies amongst Russia’s forces.”
Hoping to spread Russian forces thinner than they already are, Ukraine over the weekend launched a counteroffensive more than 300 miles away from Sievierodonetsk, aimed at retaking Kherson, a strategic port on the lower Dnipro River in south-central Ukraine. It was the first major city to fall to the Russians, less than a week after the invasion.
“The Ukrainian counterattack does not appear likely to retake substantial territory in the near term,” the Institute for the Study of War in Washington said in an assessment released on Sunday, but it will disrupt Russian operations across the south, “and potentially force Russia to deploy reinforcements to the Kherson region, which is predominantly held by substandard units.”
In Melitopol, the Kremlin-appointed regional administration said a car bombing had injured two aid workers and called it “a terrorist attack aimed at destabilizing the peaceful life of the city.” People have protested the occupation in Melitopol, where Russian forces have kidnapped local officials and replaced them.
Ivan Fyodorov, the mayor of Melitopol — who was abducted by Russian forces and then returned to Ukraine in a prisoner swap — said he did not know who was responsible for the bombing, but predicted that “the ground will burn” in Melitopol until Russians leave the city.
Russian forces have held onto most of the areas they conquered in the south early in the war. But one band of fighters held out for weeks in a steel mill complex in the southern city of Mariupol, tying down significant Russian forces before the survivors surrendered this month.
And in the first weeks of the war, Russian offensives in the north aimed at Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, the second-largest city, became hopelessly bogged down. Moscow gave up on those campaigns, at least temporarily, to concentrate on Donbas, and Ukrainians have retaken some of the lost territory.
The failure of those offensives and the resistance in Mariupol contributed to a shift in Russian tactics to a slower, more grinding approach, with little apparent concern for civilian casualties or physical destruction.
Describing the constant shelling of Sievierodonetsk, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in a video posted online on Sunday night, “They don’t care how many lives they will have to pay.”
Matina Stevis-Gridneff reported from Brussels and Richard Pérez-Peña from New York. Reporting was contributed by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Marc Santora from Krakow, Poland, Valerie Hopkins from Kyiv, Neil MacFarquhar from Istanbul, Cassandra Vinograd and Stanley Reed from London, Carlotta Gall from Druzhkivka, Ukraine, Aurelien Breeden from Paris, and Monika Pronczuk from Brussels.
A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks’ tumble this year is putting an increased focus on equity valuations, as investors assess whether recently discounted shares are worth buying in the face of a hawkish Federal Reserve and widespread geopolitical uncertainty.
With the benchmark S&P 500 index (.SPX) down 13.5% year-to-date, valuations stand at their lowest levels in two years, putting the index’s forward price-to-earnings ratio at 17.9 times from 21.7 at the end of 2021, according to the latest data from Refinitiv Datastream.
Although many investors tended to brush off elevated valuations during the market’s dynamic surge from its post-COVID-19 lows, they have been quick to punish companies viewed as overvalued this year, as the Fed rolls back easy money policies that had kept bond yields low and buoyed equities.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
While recently discounted valuations may boost stocks’ appeal to some bargain hunters, other investors believe equities may not be cheap enough, as the Fed signals it is ready to aggressively tighten monetary policy to fight inflation, bond yields surge, and geopolitical risks such as the war in Ukraine continue roiling markets. read more
“Stocks are getting close to fair valuation … but they’re not quite there yet,” said J. Bryant Evans, portfolio manager at Cozad Asset Management in Champaign, Illinois. “If you take into account bond yields, inflation, what is going on with GDP and the broader economy, they’re not quite there yet.”
Wild swings shook markets in the past week after the Fed delivered a widely expected 50 basis point rate increase and signaled similar moves for the meetings ahead as it tries to quell the highest annual inflation rates in 40 years. The index has declined for five straight weeks, its longest losing streak since mid-2011. read more
More volatility could be in store if next week’s monthly consumer price index reading exceeds expectations, potentially bolstering the case for even more aggressive monetary policy tightening from the Fed. read more
“There has … been a healthy reset in valuations and sentiment,” wrote Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer at Truist Advisory Services, in a recent note to clients.
“For stocks to move higher on a sustainable basis, investors will likely need to have greater confidence in the Fed’s ability to tame inflation without unduly hurting the economy.”
Though valuations have come down, S&P 500’s forward P/E stands above its long-term average of 15.5 times earnings estimates.
Potentially burnishing stocks’ appeal, S&P 500 companies are expected to increase earnings by about 9% this year, according to Refinitiv data, as they wrap up a better-than-expected first-quarter reporting season.
One likely factor is whether Treasuries extend a sell-off that has lifted the benchmark 10-year note yield, which moves inversely to prices, to its highest since late 2018.
Higher yields in particular dull the allure of technology and other high-growth sectors, as their cash flows are often more weighted in the future and diminished when discounted at higher rates.
The forward P/E for the S&P 500 technology sector (.SPLRCT) has declined from 28.5 times to 21.4 so far this year, according to Refinitiv Datastream data as of Friday morning.
“In terms of growth valuations, they have been hit the hardest and likely the most oversold,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.
But the sector continues to trade at a nearly 20% premium to the overall S&P 500, above the 15% premium it has averaged over the broader index over the past five years.
If the 10-year yield hovers between 3% to 3.5%, after being a “fraction” of that level for a long period, “that is going to continue to be a weight on the P/E and therefore the discounting mechanism for the growth and technology space,” said John Lynch, chief investment officer for Comerica Wealth Management, which favors value over growth shares.
“To a large extent, (the pressure from higher yields) has been baked in,” Lynch said. “But I don’t think it is going to go away. I think it is going to persist.”
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Ira Iosebashvili and Richard Chang
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
WARSAW — They were among the final few words of a carefully crafted speech. But they strayed far from the delicate balance that President Biden had tried to strike during three days of wartime diplomacy in Europe.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Mr. Biden said Saturday, his cadence slowing for emphasis.
On its face, he appeared to be calling for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to be ousted for his brutal invasion of Ukraine. But Mr. Biden’s aides quickly insisted that the remark — delivered in front of a castle that served for centuries as a home for Polish monarchs — was not intended as an appeal for regime change.
Whatever his intent, the moment underscored the dual challenges Mr. Biden faced during three extraordinary summit meetings in Belgium and an up-close look at the war’s consequences from Poland: keeping America’s allies united against Mr. Putin, while at the same time avoiding an escalation with Russia, which the president has said could lead to World War III.
To achieve his first goal, Mr. Biden spent much of the trip drawing the world’s attention to Mr. Putin’s atrocities since he started the war on Feb. 24. He urged continued action to cripple the Russian economy. He reaffirmed America’s promise to defend its NATO allies against any threat. And he called Mr. Putin “a butcher,” responsible for devastating damage to Ukraine’s cities and its people.
Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said Mr. Putin’s fate was not in the hands of the American president. “It’s not for Biden to decide,” Mr. Peskov told reporters after Mr. Biden finished speaking. “The president of Russia is elected by the Russians.”
Even as he made it his mission to rally his counterparts, Mr. Biden and his aides were determined to avoid taking actions that Mr. Putin could use as pretexts to start a wider and even more dangerous conflict.
“There is simply no justification or provocation for Russia’s choice of war,” Mr. Biden said earlier in his speech Saturday night. “It’s an example of one of the oldest human impulses — using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control.”
In closed-door discussions at NATO and with the leaders of more than 30 nations, Mr. Biden repeatedly vowed not to send American troops into combat against Russia. And despite desperate pleas for additional help from Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, Mr. Biden remained opposed to using NATO or U.S. fighter jets to secure the country’s airspace from Russian attacks.
Mr. Biden’s trip, which began Wednesday, came at a pivotal moment for his presidency and the world, amid the largest war in Europe since 1945 and a mushrooming humanitarian crisis. Both are testing the resolve and cooperation within the NATO alliance after four years in which former President Donald J. Trump cast doubt on its relevance and pushed a policy of America First isolationism.
For most of his foray abroad, Mr. Biden succeeded in staying on message, according to veteran foreign policy watchers — a reality that made his last-minute comment about Mr. Putin’s future even more striking.
“That message of unity is exactly what Putin needs to hear to convince him to scale back his war aims and end the brutality,” Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s what Ukrainians need to hear to encourage them to keep up the fight. And it’s what Europeans need to hear to steady their nerves and reassure them that the United States is fully committed to their defense.”
And yet, the president ended his trip on Saturday and returned home with few concrete answers about how or when the war will end — and grim uncertainty about the brutal and grinding violence still to come.
A top Russian commander on Friday appeared to signal that Moscow was narrowing its war aims, saying that capturing Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and other major cities was not a priority. Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, the chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian military’s General Staff, said in a public statement that the military would instead concentrate “on the main thing: the complete liberation of the Donbas,” the southeastern region that is home to a Kremlin-backed separatist insurgency.
Administration officials say a Russian withdrawal to Donbas would amount to a remarkable failure for Mr. Putin, who has drawn international scorn for his invasion and has plunged the Russian economy into disarray under the weight of global sanctions.
If Mr. Putin decides to limit the scope of the fight, it would pose new diplomatic challenges for Mr. Biden, who has used the horror of all-out war to rally the world against Russia’s aggression. That could prove more difficult if Mr. Putin decided to move some of his forces back — whether as a real retreat or a strategic feint.
For the moment, however, large portions of Ukraine remain under siege while the country’s forces have mounted a fierce resistance.
On Saturday, even as Mr. Biden prepared to deliver his speech, Russian missiles slammed into Lviv, a city in western Ukraine not far from the Polish border. The missiles hit at or near what is believed to be an oil storage facility, and thick black smoke billowed over the city. At least five people were injured.
Mr. Putin’s thinking remained murky as Mr. Biden boarded Air Force One on Saturday night for the flight back to Washington, complicating his administration’s calculus as it looks for ways to keep the pressure on Russia without going too far.
It all adds up to a tricky task for Mr. Biden, who came into office determined to end America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan and now faces the challenge of managing the response to another war.
He has received high marks — even from Republicans — for sending more than $2 billion in military and security aid to Ukraine, bolstering its ability to fight off Russian forces. And he has joined European leaders in imposing crippling sanctions on the Russian economy, putting immense pressure on the Russian leader’s most ardent backers.
During Mr. Biden’s visit to Brussels, NATO announced the redeployment of additional forces to member countries closest to Russia, an effort that Mr. Biden said would deliver a message of resolve to Mr. Putin.
The president also announced $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Poland and other nations that have taken in 3.5 million people fleeing the fighting in Ukraine. Mr. Biden said the United States would open its borders to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
“Visible American leadership is no longer taken for granted in Europe,” said Ian Lesser, the executive director in Brussels for the German Marshall Fund. “In this sense, the president’s trip has made a significant impression.”
But the president also drew criticism from Mr. Zelensky, for refusing to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Their advantage in the sky is like the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Biden and the leaders of other NATO countries during their closed-door meeting on Thursday. “And you see the consequences today. How many people were killed, how many peaceful cities were destroyed.”
Mr. Biden faced the limits of European action when he put to his allies the question of curtailing Russia’s ability to profit from the sale of its oil and gas. Europe gets a large percentage of its energy from Russia, and Mr. Biden once again found a deep reluctance to making any decision to cut off that lifeline.
Instead, the president announced a longer-term plan to help wean Europeans off the use of Russian fuel.
Jeremy Bash, who served as a top adviser at both the Pentagon and the C.I.A. under former President Barack Obama, called Mr. Putin’s war “a geopolitical earthquake” and a “once-in-a-generation contest” that has forced Mr. Biden to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing security and diplomatic world.
“President Biden is now a wartime commander in chief waging four wars at once,” Mr. Bash said on Saturday. “An economic war, an information war, likely a cyber war, and an unprecedented indirect military war against Putin. And so far, Putin has been unable to achieve a single one of his objectives.”
Several of the administration’s most ardent supporters in the foreign policy world quickly chided the president for seeming to seek Mr. Putin’s removal. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, called it a “bad lapse in discipline that runs risk of extending the scope and duration of the war.”
While American officials still insist their goal is not regime change in Moscow, even the president’s top national security advisers have made clear they want Mr. Putin to emerge strategically weakened.
“At the end of the day, the Russian people are going to ask the more fundamental question of why this happened and how this happened,” Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters on Air Force One on Friday, before the president’s speech. “And we believe that, at the end of the day, they will be able to connect the dots.”
Mr. Sullivan added, “These are costs that President Putin has brought on himself and his country and his economy and his defense industrial base because of his completely unjustified and unprovoked decision to go to war in Ukraine.”
KYIV, Ukraine — The Israeli government rejected requests from Ukraine and Estonia in recent years to purchase and use Pegasus — the powerful spyware tool — to hack Russian mobile phone numbers, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
Israel feared that selling the cyberweapon to adversaries of Russia would damage Israel’s relationship with the Kremlin, they said.
Both Ukraine and Estonia had hoped to buy Pegasus to gain access to Russian phones, presumably as part of intelligence operations targeting their increasingly menacing neighbor in the years before Russia carried out its invasion of Ukraine.
But Israel’s Ministry of Defense refused to grant licenses to NSO Group, the company that makes Pegasus, to sell to Estonia and Ukraine if the goal of those nations was to use the weapon against Russia. The decisions came after years of Israel providing licenses to foreign governments that used the spyware as a tool of domestic repression.
Pegasus is a so-called zero-click hacking tool, meaning that it can stealthily and remotely extract everything from a target’s mobile phone, including photos, contacts, messages and video recordings, without the user having to click on a phishing link to give Pegasus remote access. It can also turn the mobile phone into a tracking and secret recording device, allowing the phone to spy on its owner.
In the case of Ukraine, the requests for Pegasus go back several years. Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, the country has increasingly seen itself as a direct target of Russian aggression and espionage. Ukrainian officials have sought Israeli defense equipment to counter the Russian threat, but Israel has imposed a near-total embargo on selling weapons, including Pegasus, to Ukraine.
In the Estonian case, negotiations to purchase Pegasus began in 2018, and Israel at first authorized Estonia to have the system, apparently unaware that Estonia planned to use the system to attack Russian phones. The Estonian government made a large down payment on the $30 million it had pledged for the system.
The following year, however, a senior Russian defense official contacted Israel security agencies to notify them that Russia had learned of Estonia’s plans to use Pegasus against Russia. After a fierce debate among Israeli officials, Israel’s Ministry of Defense blocked Estonia from using the spyware on any Russian mobile numbers worldwide.
Israel’s relationship with Russia has come under close scrutiny since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began several weeks ago, and Ukrainian officials have publicly called out Israel’s government for offering only limited support to Ukraine’s embattled government and bowing to Russian pressure.
During a virtual speech to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine criticized Israel for not providing his country with the Iron Dome antimissile system and other defensive weapons, and for not joining other Western nations in imposing strict economic sanctions on Russia.
Invoking the Holocaust, Mr. Zelensky said that Russia’s war was aimed at destroying the Ukrainian people just as the Nazis had wanted destruction for the Jewish people. Mr. Zelensky, who is Jewish, said “mediation can be between states, but not between good and evil.”
The New York Times reported last month that Israeli officials in August rejected a request by a Ukrainian delegation to purchase Pegasus, at a time when Russian troops were massing at the Ukrainian border. On Wednesday morning, The Washington Post and The Guardian, part of a consortium of news organizations called The Pegasus Project, reported that these discussions dated back to 2019, and first reported that Israel had blocked Estonia’s efforts to obtain Pegasus.
A senior Ukrainian official familiar with attempts to acquire the Pegasus system said that Ukrainian intelligence officials were disappointed when Israel declined to allow Ukraine to purchase the system, which could have proved critical for monitoring Russian military programs and assessing the country’s foreign policy goals.
The official said Ukraine’s view was that Israel, in making decisions about licensing Pegasus, gave more weight to a government’s relationship with the Kremlin than its human rights record.
Representatives of the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment. In a statement, NSO said the company “can’t refer to alleged clients and won’t refer to hearsay and political innuendo.”
Both Ukraine and Estonia were once part of the Soviet Union, and since then have had to live in the long shadow of Russia’s military. Estonia is a member of NATO.
Russia plays a powerful role throughout the Middle East, particularly in Syria, and Israel is wary of crossing Moscow on critical security issues. In particular, Russia has generally allowed Israel to strike Iranian and Lebanese targets inside Syria — raids the Israeli military sees as essential to stemming the flow of arms that Iran sends to proxy forces stationed close to Israel’s northern border.
Israel’s government has long seen Pegasus as a critical tool for its foreign policy. A New York Times Magazine article this year revealed how, for more than a decade, Israel has made strategic decisions about which countries it allows to obtain licenses for Pegasus, and which countries to withhold them from.
Israel’s government has authorized Pegasus to be purchased by authoritarian governments, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that have used the weapon to spy on dissidents, human rights activists and journalists in those countries. Democratically elected leaders in India, Hungary, Mexico, Panama and other countries also abused Pegasus to spy on their political opponents.
Israel has used the tool as a bargaining chip in diplomatic negotiations, most notably in the secret talks that led to the so-called Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several of its historic Arab adversaries.
“Policy decisions regarding export controls, take into account security and strategic considerations, which include adherence to international arrangements,” the Israeli defense ministry said in a statement in response to questions from The Times. “As a matter of policy, the State of Israel approves the export of cyber products exclusively to governmental entities, for lawful use, and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter terrorism, under end use/end user declarations provided by the acquiring government.”
Since NSO first sold Pegasus to the government of Mexico more than a decade ago, the spyware has been used by dozens of countries to track criminals, terrorists and drug traffickers. But the abuse of the tool has also been extensive, from Saudi Arabia’s use of Pegasus as part of a brutal crackdown on dissents inside the kingdom, to Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary authorizing his intelligence and law enforcement services to deploy the spyware against his political opponents.
Last November, the Biden administration put NSO and another Israeli cyberfirm on a “blacklist” of firms that are barred from doing business with American companies. The Commerce Department said the companies’ tools “have enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent.”
Ronen Bergman reported from Kyiv, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.
SEOUL — They have shown up whenever women rallied against sexual violence and gender biases in South Korea. Dozens of young men, mostly dressed in black, taunted the protesters, squealing and chanting, “Thud! Thud!” to imitate the noise they said the “ugly feminist pigs” made when they walked.
“Out with man haters!” they shouted. “Feminism is a mental illness!”
On the streets, such rallies would be easy to dismiss as the extreme rhetoric of a fringe group. But the anti-feminist sentiments are being amplified online, finding a vast audience that is increasingly imposing its agenda on South Korean society and politics.
These male activists have targeted anything that smacks of feminism, forcing a university to cancel a lecture by a woman they accused of spreading misandry. They have vilified prominent women, criticizing An San, a three-time gold medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, for her short haircut.
They have threatened businesses with boycotts, prompting companies to pull advertisements with the image of pinching fingers they said ridiculed the size of male genitalia. And they have taken aim at the government for promoting a feminist agenda, eliciting promises from rival presidential candidates to reform the country’s 20-year-old Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
runaway housing prices, a lack of jobs and a widening income gap.
YouTube channel with 450,000 subscribers. To its members, feminists equal man haters.
Its motto once read, “Till the day all feminists are exterminated!”
The backlash against feminism in South Korea may seem bewildering.
the highest gender wage gap among the wealthy countries. Less than one-fifth of its national lawmakers are women. Women make up only 5.2 percent of the board members of publicly listed businesses, compared with 28 percent in the United States.
And yet, most young men in the country argue that it is men, not women, in South Korea who feel threatened and marginalized. Among South Korean men in their 20s, nearly 79 percent said they were victims of serious gender discrimination, according to a poll in May.
“There is a culture of misogyny in male-dominant online communities, depicting feminists as radical misandrists and spreading fear of feminists,” said Kim Ju-hee, 26, a nurse who has organized protests denouncing anti-feminists.
The wave of anti-feminism in South Korea shares many of the incendiary taglines with right-wing populist movements in the West that peddle such messages. Women who argue for abortion rights are labeled “destroyers of family.” Feminists are not champions of gender equality, but “female supremacists.”
In South Korea, “women” and “feminists” are two of the most common targets of online hate speech, according to the country’s National Human Rights Commission.
abortions were common.
mandatory military service. But many women drop out of the work force after giving birth, and much of the domestic duties fall to them.
“What more do you want? We gave you your own space in the subway, bus, parking lot,” the male rapper San E writes in his 2018 song “Feminist,” which has a cult following among young anti-feminists. “Oh girls don’t need a prince! Then pay half for the house when we marry.”
The gender wars have infused the South Korean presidential race, largely seen as a contest for young voters. With the virulent anti-feminist voice surging, no major candidate is speaking out for women’s rights, once such a popular cause that President Moon Jae-in called himself a “feminist” when he campaigned about five years ago.
It is hard to tell how many young men support the kind of extremely provocative and often theatrical activism championed by groups like Man on Solidarity. Its firebrand leader, Mr. Bae, showed up at a recent feminist rally dressed as the Joker from “Batman” comics and toting a toy water gun. He followed female protesters around, pretending to, as he put it, “kill flies.”
Tens of thousands of fans have watched his stunts livestreamed online, sending in cash donations. During one online talk-fest in August, Mr. Bae raised nine million won ($7,580) in three minutes.
legalize abortion and started one of the most powerful #MeToo campaigns in Asia.
Lee Hyo-lin, 29, said that “feminist” has become such a dirty word that women who wear their hair short or carry a novel by a feminist writer risk ostracism. When she was a member of a K-pop group, she said that male colleagues routinely commented on her body, jeering that she “gave up being a woman” when she gained weight.
“The #MeToo problem is part of being a woman in South Korea,” she said. “Now we want to speak out, but they want us to shut up. It’s so frustrating.”
On the other side of the culture war are young men with a litany of grievances — concerns that are endlessly regurgitated by male-dominated forums. They have fixated, in particular, on limited cases of false accusations, as a way to give credence to a broader anti-feminist agenda.
Son Sol-bin, a used-furniture seller, was 29 when his former girlfriend accused him of rape and kidnapping in 2018. Online trolls called for his castration, he said. His mother found closed-circuit TV footage proving the accusations never took place.
“The feminist influence has left the system so biased against men that the police took a woman’s testimony and a mere drop of her tears as enough evidence to land an innocent man in jail,” said Mr. Son, who spent eight months in jail before he was cleared. “I think the country has gone crazy.”
As Mr. Son fought back tears during a recent anti-feminist rally, other young men chanted: “Be strong! We are with you!”
At the war’s end, residents of Marja are growing increasingly desperate for any kind of help, a frustration that has turned to anger that the international community has seemingly abandoned them.
MARJA, Afghanistan — Haji Rozi Khan stood outside the gate of the bullet-pocked building that housed the Marja district’s government offices, staring through the slotted steel door into the compound. Taliban guards stared back. They were not who he was looking for.
Mr. Khan had trekked to Marja’s district center in Helmand Province from his village several miles away by motorbike, kicking up powdered dust as he navigated the unpaved roads, long damaged by the war. He was searching for a figure who had been even more elusive since the Taliban took power in August: an aid worker.
“We have nothing to eat,” he said in an interview last month.
Once, Marja was the site of one of the biggest battles of the two-decade war, part of the United States’ counterinsurgency campaign to weaken the Taliban and build up a local government. But today, the grid-like patch of mud-walled hamlets and canals looks much as it did at the outset of the invasion in 2001: barely navigable roads, understaffed and damaged schools and clinics and withered crops, crippled by one of the worst droughts in decades.
humanitarian crisis, Marja’s residents are still caught in the war’s aftershocks. Amid a crashing economy and ruined harvests, in a place where most people barely live above the poverty line, many are just now realizing how dependent they were on foreign aid, their lifeline for 20 years, which was cut off practically overnight. They’re growing increasingly desperate for help, a frustration that has morphed into anger that the international community has seemingly abandoned them.
that crumbled even before the Americans fully withdrew from the country in August. Many in Marja were happy to see the foreign occupation end and the Taliban take power, because it brought stability to the region after years of fighting that took countless civilian lives and wrought widespread destruction.
under control of the Taliban. Across the country, there is widespread anxiety about the future.
This year’s turmoil has been deepened by the arrival of roughly 20 displaced families from central Afghanistan. They were hungry and homeless, he said, so he gave them what little food he could spare before making his way to the district center in hopes of finding someone else who could help.
“We are so tired,” Mr. Khan said, his blue shalwar kameez flapping in the morning breeze.
In recent weeks, the United States and the European Union have pledged to provide $1.29 billion more in aid to Afghanistan. The World Bank’s board moved in late November to free up $280 million in frozen donor funding, but U.S. sanctions against the Taliban continue to make it extremely difficult for aid organizations to get money into the country.
Aside from the sanctions, the Taliban government’s inability to provide for its people also stems from its inexperience in governance, which was clearly illustrated in a visit to the district office in Marja.
Inside the squat government building that was refurbished by the Americans a decade ago and nearly destroyed by fighting in the decade since, sat Mullah Abdul Salam Hussaini, 37, Marja’s district governor. The newly appointed local leader had spent the better part of the last 20 years — essentially his entire adulthood — trying to kill U.S. and NATO forces as a Taliban fighter.
Now he found himself governing a district of around 80,000 people mired in crisis, with little in the way of funds, infrastructure or public-service experience to support his constituents.
People lined up at the compound gates with a litany of complaints and requests: Do something about the displaced refugees; build a new health clinic; help farmers whose crops were destroyed; find more teachers for what may be the only remaining school in Marja.
“Whatever people ask, I am asking that, too, because we are not in a situation to do it ourselves,” Mr. Hussaini said quietly, surrounded by Talibs who looked far more comfortable behind a rifle than a desk. “We need the help of foreigners because they did it before and we’re asking them to do it again.”
Inside the governor’s dimly lit office, walls and window sill adorned with Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons captured from the previous government, sat a representative from a local aid group who had come to survey the district and its food needs for the World Food Program. The organization is still distributing basic food staples, but the rising demand has far exceeded their supplies.
For years, the insurgent group controlled pockets of Afghanistan and fueled a shadow economy by leeching off the previous government’s foreign-filled coffers through taxes on everyone in their territory, including truck drivers and aid workers. But those sorts of activities cannot make up for the loss of outside help.
“The Taliban don’t seem to have had a sense of how dependent the economy was on foreign support, which they benefited from as did everyone else,” said Kate Clark, the co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network. “Even under the areas under Taliban control they weren’t funding the schools and the clinics.”
Marja, a district long reliant on growing poppy for its own illicit economy that the Taliban also taxed, was built by the United States in the late 1950s and 1960s as an agricultural project that diverted water from the Helmand River into a series of distinct grids.
In 2010, during the height of President Barack Obama’s troop surge, thousands of Western and Afghan troops secured the network of canals and fields in a major military offensive and then made promises of roads, schools and a functioning local government. Considered the last Taliban stronghold in central Helmand, Marja was a strategically important district in the eyes of military planners, who decided a victory there would be crucial to Mr. Obama’s new counterinsurgency strategy.
The Koru Chareh bazaar, a cluster of shoddy low-slung, steel-door shops, was where some of the first American troops arrived in 2010. “They came at night,” recalled Abdul Kabir, a young shopkeeper who was 9 when the first helicopters landed nearby.
As a boy, he watched as the Marines in desert tan uniforms walked by, saying nothing to him.
But this November, the only visible signs of the Americans’ occupation was a “Trump 2020 Keep America Great” flag draped from a shopkeeper’s peanut stand and a Confederate battle flag hanging from a shed nearby. A paved road that bisects Marja from north to south is arguably the most prominent American piece of infrastructure in the district, built as part of the more than $4 billion in stabilization funds that the United States poured into the country.
“It’s good the fighting is over,” Mr. Kabir said, standing next to his money exchange stand, where he focused on changing afghanis into Pakistani rupees. Few people ambled by. He had lived in Marja his whole life, an arc that followed the entire U.S. occupation.
Mr. Kabir was one of several residents who praised the security situation but lamented the economic downturn. “There is no money and everything is expensive,” he added.
With fluctuating border restrictions, higher import costs and a cash shortage, basic products in the bazaar, such as cooking oil, are three times as expensive as they once were.
To the vendors, who have distinct memories of fighting outside their homes, and explosions and gunshots that killed their friends, the economic crunch and the United States’ unwillingness to recognize the Taliban feel like punishments against them, not the new government.
Ali Mohammed, 27, who runs a chicken stand at the main intersection of the bazaar, has carried the weight of the war for years. He watched as a friend was gunned down by the Americans in a field just a few hundred yards from where he now sells his underfed birds. To him, his country’s situation was simply a new phase of the conflict.
“The foreigners say they are not here anymore,” he said. “But they didn’t finish the war against us.”