Good morning. We’re covering an American strike that killed an al Qaeda leader and the first Ukrainian grain shipment since the war began.
US airstrike kills al-Qaeda leader
A U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the top leader of al-Qaeda and a key planner of the September 11, 2001, attacks. He took over al Qaeda after the US military killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
“Justice has been served and this terrorist leader no longer exists,” President Biden said in a speech to Americans last night.
The strike, which took place in central Kabul over the weekend, was the first U.S. strike in Afghanistan since U.S. troops left the country last year. The Taliban condemned the operation. This is a real-time update.
heritage: Zawahiri, 71, was born in Egypt and trained as a surgeon before becoming a jihadist. He profoundly shaped al Qaeda and its terror movement with his writing and arguments. He is widely described as the intellectual backbone of the group, but his death likely had little impact on the group’s day-to-day operations.
politics: The attack is a major victory for the Biden administration’s counterterrorism efforts, supporting the president’s argument that the United States can still fight terrorist groups without a massive deployment of ground troops.
Context: The U.S. claims the Taliban violated the peace deal by letting al-Zawahiri enter Afghanistan. The Taliban say the U.S. strike violated the peace deal.
Ukraine resumes food shipments
Yesterday, a ship full of corn left Ukraine for the first time since Russia invaded in February.
The ship’s departure has raised hopes that much-needed food will soon reach the Middle East and Africa. It will be inspected in Turkish waters today before continuing on to Lebanon. A Ukrainian official said 16 more ships were waiting to leave Odessa in the next few days.
But due to wars, climate concerns and the coronavirus pandemic, these shipments may not help alleviate global hunger. In the Horn of Africa, for example, four years of drought left 18 million people facing severe hunger.
Our coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian war
background: The Russian blockade has prevented Ukraine from exporting about 20 million tons of grain. Last month, Turkey and the United Nations reached a deal with Ukraine and Russia to restart exports. Below are the details of the transaction.
warn: Citing the war and tensions between North Korea and Iran, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said humanity was “just a misunderstanding, a miscalculation” from nuclear annihilation.
struggle: Russia has turned Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into a fortress. Local residents were concerned that the shelling would cause radiation leaks.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to confirm she plans to visit the self-governing island during her closely watched tour of Asia. But all signs point to her visiting, perhaps as early as tonight.
U.S. officials have sought to assure Beijing that such a visit would not be the first of its kind and would not represent any change in policy in the region. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that a possible visit “would not change the status quo.”
The United States also warned China to remain calm. “Beijing has no reason to turn a potential visit consistent with long-standing U.S. policy into some kind of crisis or conflict, or use it as an excuse to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said.
analyze: Current economic and political forces may make Beijing less likely to trigger a crisis.
Beijing: Chinese leader Xi Jinping has long vowed to respond to any challenge to China’s claims on Taiwan. The foreign ministry reacted strongly to news of Pelosi’s possible trip, promising that China would “defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Washington: White House officials have privately expressed concern that such a visit could escalate tensions in Asia, where the United States has been consumed by the war in Ukraine.
Food is identity. But for adopted Korean chefs, the situation can be complicated.
In America, through restaurant cooking, they are exploring a legacy they didn’t grow up with. Some people call their food Korean, Korean, or “slightly Asian.”
But while they find fulfillment and connection in the kitchen, their dishes are sometimes criticized for not being Korean enough.
art and thought
Singapore’s climate experiment
In Singapore, temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global average. Many fear the extreme heat will make the wealthy city-state uninhabitable.
So, to “keep Singapore liveable”, the government is funding a high-tech, multi-agency project to try to tackle the urban heat challenge. Researchers are building a computer model of Singapore that would allow policymakers to analyze the effectiveness of various cooling measures — and adjust them for specific regions — before spending money.
Lead researcher Winston Chow describes his team’s approach as trying to find “the key components of the climate that really affects your discomfort.” Is the wind speed low? high temperature? Sun radiation? The answer, he said, “has a lot to do with smarter urban design or how individuals deal with heat at the planning level.”
Singapore’s wealth gives it the resources to invest in such high-tech solutions. But its proximity to the equator also makes it a good model for other countries, especially tropical countries.