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Biden’s Afghanistan Dilemma

Is America’s longest war finally coming to an end?

That’s the question President Biden is confronting before a May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, where they have been deployed since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. I spoke to my colleagues Helene Cooper and T.M. Gibbons-Neff about Biden’s three basic options, and the potential risks.

1. Withdraw now. Biden’s history suggests he might personally favor a quick drawdown, Helene, who covers the Pentagon, says. As vice president, Biden argued for a smaller U.S. presence in Afghanistan than Barack Obama’s military advisers wanted. (He lost that argument.)

Now that Biden is in a position to decide, his outlook seems to have shifted. He has said that bringing the roughly 3,500 U.S. soldiers home by May — a deadline Biden inherited from Donald Trump — would be logistically difficult. “Think about how you move into an apartment and you live there for a year, how much it takes to move out,” T.M., who is based in the Afghan capital, Kabul, says. “Imagine going to war for two decades.”

A hasty departure could also have consequences for Afghanistan. The Trump administration agreed to withdraw as part of a deal it struck last year with the Taliban, the repressive militant group that ruled much of the country before the U.S. invaded. The Taliban are already supporting targeted killings against Afghan civilians and soldiers. If American forces leave, some Afghans and U.S. officials fear the Taliban will attempt a military takeover.

women’s education and democracy the country has made since 2001.

think they have the upper hand.

testimony from a teenage store clerk who described the moments before George Floyd’s death, and watched police body-camera footage of the arrest. Here are more takeaways from Day 3 of the trial.

  • Four people, including a child, are dead after a shooting at an office building in Southern California, the third mass shooting in the U.S. in the past 16 days. The authorities are expected to release more details this morning.

  • New York State legalized the use of recreational marijuana. And the state’s prisons will end long-term solitary confinement.

  • After staying silent last week, Delta and Coca-Cola, two of Georgia’s largest companies, expressed “crystal clear” opposition to the state’s new law to restrict voting access.

  • A Hong Kong court found prominent pro-democracy activists guilty of unauthorized assembly. It’s part of a Beijing-led campaign to quash opposition.

  • Aleksei Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, declared a hunger strike, demanding better medical treatment.

  • The musician Paul Simon sold his songwriting catalog to Sony. Several other noted songwriters have struck big deals recently.

  • After about 10 minutes of grocery shopping, a New Mexico man returned to his car to find 15,000 bees in the back seat.

  • Woof: Would you buy your dog a charcuterie board?

    Lives Lived: The white minority government in Rhodesia imprisoned Janice McLaughlin, an American nun, for exposing atrocities against Black citizens. Years later, when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, she returned to help establish an educational system. McLaughlin died at 79.

    Forbes reported that he made nearly $30 million last year.

    The children’s section of YouTube is lucrative: Half of the 10 most popular videos on the platform are for children, and the catchy kids’ song “Baby Shark” is its most-viewed video. But as Bloomberg Businessweek reports, Kaji’s success goes far beyond the ad money from his videos. Like the Olsen twins and JoJo Siwa before him, he has an empire built on merchandising.

    Kaji’s parents have made deals with Walmart and Target for toys and clothes, as well as TV deals with Amazon and Nickelodeon. A footwear line with Skechers is in the works. The bulk of Kaji’s revenue now comes from the licensing side.

    Other children’s YouTube channels are also cashing in: Cocomelon, which has more than 100 million subscribers, has a line of toys. Pinkfong, the educational brand behind “Baby Shark,” has merchandise and a Nickelodeon series.

    For more on Kaji, read the rest of Bloomberg’s story.

    play online.

    Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Steal (five letters).

    If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

    Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — Ian

    P.S. Our colleague Sarah Lyall is writing about burnout and motivation, as more workers contemplate a return to the office. Tell her how you’re coping.

    You can see today’s print front page here.

    Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the Amazon union vote in Alabama. On “Sway,” Cathy Park Hong discusses anti-Asian racism.

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    Australian Leader Demotes Lawmakers Amid Scandals

    SYDNEY—Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison demoted two senior lawmakers as he tried to contain the political fallout from scandals that helped to bring tens of thousands of women out to protest the government’s handling of sexual-assault allegations.

    Mr. Morrison said he would increase the number of women in his leadership team and would lead a task force with foreign minister Marise Payne to shape policy on women’s issues, including safety and equality.

    The new 23-member cabinet will include seven women, up from six women in the previous 22-person leadership team. Mr. Morrison also committed to promoting more women to other government roles.

    Christian Porter will be removed from his position as attorney general, while Linda Reynolds will be removed as defense minister, Mr. Morrison said in a press conference. Both will remain in the cabinet, in lesser roles. The changes follow a crisis within the government that has cast a spotlight on the country’s politics and handling of harassment and sexual-assault complaints.

    Australia’s Attorney General Christian Porter, shown on March 3 in Perth, will be removed from his post.

    Photo: stefan gosatti/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

    Mr. Porter is accused of committing rape 33 years ago, an allegation that he denies. Mr. Porter has said he was 17 in 1988 when the rape is alleged to have taken place, and only briefly knew the complainant. He said she was 16 at the time. The allegation was reported in February by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC, without naming Mr. Porter, before the attorney general identified himself as the accused.

    His accuser died by suicide last year shortly after deciding not to proceed with a police complaint, according to police, who have said there isn’t enough admissible evidence to pursue criminal charges.

    Mr. Porter said that he couldn’t continue in the role as attorney general because he has launched defamation proceedings against the ABC, which is fighting the lawsuit. He will be succeeded as attorney general by Michaelia Cash, whose new role as the country’s top law officer includes completing the government’s response to recommendations made last year by a national inquiry into sexual harassment.

    The removal of Ms. Reynolds comes several weeks after she called a former female staff member, Brittany Higgins, who had previously made a claim of rape against a former male colleague, a “lying cow.” Ms. Reynolds has apologized and retracted the comment, which she said was made privately. She had previously said the comment referred to the way Ms. Higgins’s claims had been reported in the media, and not her rape allegation.

    Mr. Morrison said the decision to move Ms. Reynolds from the position of minister of Defense was based on medical advice, as she has been receiving treatment for a health problem. Ms. Reynolds couldn’t be reached for comment.

    “These changes will shake up what needs to be shaken up, while maintaining the momentum and the continuity and the stability that Australia needs as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and recession,” Mr. Morrison said on Monday. Days earlier, he had criticized a “longstanding culture of despicable behavior” in Parliament, and said lawmakers from all parties must fix it.

    Mr. Morrison’s initial response to the sexual-assault allegations, such as resisting calls for an independent inquiry into the allegation against Mr. Porter, was criticized as inadequate by protesters who marched in the tens of thousands in cities and towns nationwide over two days this month. The prime minister drew further criticism when he said the women protesting outside Parliament House were fortunate to be doing so in Australia when demonstrations in Myanmar were “being met with bullets.”

    Mr. Morrison has taken firmer action on new allegations of sexual misconduct involving Parliamentary staff and lawmakers, which were made in recent days. An unnamed government staff member was fired for committing a lewd act on the desk of a female lawmaker, also unidentified, said Mr. Morrison. Mr. Morrison said Andrew Laming, one of his party’s lawmakers, won’t contest the next election after he was accused of repeatedly harassing two women online. Mr. Laming, who last week apologized in Parliament for his communication with the women, couldn’t be reached for comment on his election plans.

    “I acknowledge that many Australians, especially women, believe that I have not heard them, and that greatly distresses me,” Mr. Morrison said in a March 23 press conference. He also said that his language about the protests could have been different, and that he had meant no offense.

    An opinion poll released Monday put voters’ satisfaction with Mr. Morrison’s performance at its lowest level in a year, eroding all gains from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Janine Hendry, a Melbourne-based academic who helped to organize this month’s protests, said it is unclear how the shuffle of Mr. Morrison’s leadership team would stop the abuse of women or address issues such as gender equity.

    Mr. Morrison said he expected Mr. Porter to continue serving in his cabinet, including after the next election, which must be held by May 2022. Ms. Reynolds will now be responsible for government services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a cabinet role.

    Marian Sawer, a political scientist and emeritus professor at Australian National University, suggested Parliament introduce a code of conduct, set up an independent body to handle complaints, and conduct mandatory training on how to prevent harassment.

    “It’s high time we caught up with comparable Parliaments in Canada, New Zealand and the U.K., that have been quicker to take action on these shared problems,” she said.

    Australia has fallen behind other countries in the proportion of women in legislatures. It ranks 50th, alongside Croatia and behind Zimbabwe, for women’s representation, according to data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a Geneva-based international organization of national Parliaments. Two decades ago, it had ranked 21st.

    Over the past decade, several female leaders, including Julia Gillard, who was the country’s first female prime minister, have called out male colleagues in Parliament for their behavior. On one occasion, Ms. Gillard’s main political opponent stood outside Parliament next to a sign stating “Ditch the Witch.”

    Before this month’s protest marches, a conversation was building about sexual assault and misogyny in Australian society. That was partly in evidence when an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, Grace Tame, was named Australian of the Year. The award is bestowed by the National Australia Day Council, a not-for-profit government-owned social enterprise, on a citizen each year as part of the celebrations surrounding Australia Day.

    A 2018 survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which is funded by the government but operates independently, found that almost one-quarter of Australian women said they had been a victim of rape or attempted rape on at least one occasion.

    “I think having a lot of women’s voices in the public domain is positive, and could be a turning point,” said Kristin Diemer, a sociologist and associate professor at the University of Melbourne. “For survivors to have a platform to speak about their experience, I think, is a change in the current situation in Australia.”

    Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at

    Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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    Janice McLaughlin, Nun Who Exposed Abuse in Africa, Dies at 79

    Sister Janice McLaughlin, an American nun who was imprisoned by the white minority government in war-torn Rhodesia for exposing atrocities against its Black citizens, then returned to help the new country of Zimbabwe establish an educational system, died on March 7 in the motherhouse of the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, near Ossining, N.Y. She was 79.

    Her religious order, of which she was president for a time, announced her death. It did not provide a cause.

    Sister McLaughlin spent nearly 40 years ministering in Africa. She lived much of that time in Zimbabwe, starting in 1977, when the country was still known as Rhodesia.

    She arrived in the midst of a seven-year struggle by Black nationalists to overthrow the white minority apartheid-style regime headed by Prime Minister Ian Smith, a fierce opponent of Black majority rule.

    Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, a group of laymen and clergy that opposed the government, Sister McLaughlin helped expose human rights abuses across the country. These included the systematic torture of Black people in rural areas and the shooting of innocent civilians, including clergy. She also wrote about the forced resettlement of nearly 600,000 Black citizens, who had been held in heavily guarded camps in overcrowded conditions lacking proper sanitation and food.

    Just three months after her arrival, she was charged with being a terrorist sympathizer and locked in solitary confinement for 18 days. She faced a penalty of seven years in prison, but the United States interceded, and she was instead deported.

    Her writings had been published in obscure journals, but her imprisonment drew widespread attention; the Vatican, the United Nations and the State Department spoke out on her behalf. On the day she was thrown out of the country and walked across the tarmac to the plane that would take her out of Rhodesia, a group of about 50 Black and white Rhodesians, many of them priests and nuns, gathered at the airport, cheered her on and sang the Black nationalist anthem, “God Bless Africa.”

    On the flight out, Sister McLaughlin told The New York Times that she was not a Marxist, as the Smith regime had alleged, but that she did support the guerrillas.

    “I think it’s come to the point where it’s impossible to bring about change without the war,” she said, “and I support change.”

    Robert Mugabe as the new president. Before he would plunge the once-wealthy nation into chaos, corruption and economic ruin, he asked for her help in rebuilding the educational system, and she readily agreed. Among other things, she established nine schools for former refugees and war veterans.

    When she died, she was eulogized by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor.

    “She chose,” he said in a statement, “to leave an otherwise quiet life of an American nun to join rough and dangerous camp life in the jungles of Mozambique, where she worked with refugees in our education department.”

    Her presence, he added, “helped give the liberation struggle an enhanced international voice and reach.”

    Janice McLaughlin was born on Feb. 13, 1942, in Pittsburgh to Paul and Mary (Schaub) McLaughlin and grew up there. She graduated from high school in 1960 and attended St. Mary of the Springs College in Columbus, Ohio, for a year, then entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in Maryknoll, N.Y., near the Hudson River village of Ossining, north of New York City.

    The order, founded in 1912, was the first American congregation of Catholic nuns dedicated to overseas missions.

    told The Times in 2013. “We try to live simply with the people. As Mother Mary Joseph said to us, ‘If anybody’s going to change, it’s going to be us.’”

    She worked in the Maryknoll Sisters communications office from 1964 to 1968 and organized a “war against poverty” program in Ossining. Moving to Milwaukee, she earned her bachelor’s degree in theology, anthropology and sociology from Marquette University in 1969.

    Then came her dream assignment — to work in Kenya, where she ran courses in journalism for church-sponsored programs. At the same time, she studied the anticolonial struggles going on across the continent.

    Much of her work in Rhodesia consisted of documenting massacres. When her office was raided by the government, two colleagues who had also been arrested were released on bail, but she was held as a dangerous communist subversive. “If I had Black skin,” she had written in her diary, “I would join ‘the boys,’” using the common term for the Black freedom fighters. She believed in the redistribution of wealth to redress past injustices.

    a recent remembrance by Robert Ellsberg, publisher of Orbis Books, an imprint of the Maryknoll Order.

    “I was suffering for a cause, and the pain and fear no longer mattered,” she added. “I was not alone. I was with the oppressed people, and God was there with us in our prison cells.”

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