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Brazil’s Carnival Only Starts When 12-Foot John Travolta Arrives
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Brazil’s Carnival Only Starts When 12-Foot John Travolta Arrives

It was near the start of one of Brazil’s most famous Carnival celebrations, in the northern seaside city of Olinda, and the town plaza was jammed with thousands of revelers. They were all awaiting their idol.Just before 9 p.m., the doors to a dance hall swung open, a brass band pushed into the crowd and the star everyone had been waiting for stepped out: a 12-foot puppet of John Travolta.Confetti sprayed, the band began playing a catchy tune and the crowd sang along: “John Travolta is really cool. Throwing a great party. And in Olinda, the best carnival.” (It rhymes in Portuguese.)The giant John Travolta, perched on the head of a puppeteer, then led a parade through the cobblestone streets.The “boneco,” as such giant puppets are known in Brazil, wore a bedazzled disco-era turtleneck and su...
Finland Elects Alexander Stubb President as It Ushers in NATO Era
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Finland Elects Alexander Stubb President as It Ushers in NATO Era

Finns elected the center-right politician Alexander Stubb as their new president on Sunday, in the first national election since the country joined NATO, filling a post that will be critical to shaping the country’s role in the alliance at a time of increasingly fraught relations with Russia.The election might typically have gained little notice beyond the borders of the sparsely populated northern European country of 5.6 million. But Finland, the newest member of NATO, shares the longest border with Russia — some 830 miles — and its politics have taken on special interest to its European and American allies as the geopolitical order shifts.U.S. power is being challenged by Moscow and Beijing, and Europe is grappling with its largest land war since World War II. At the same time, the Ameri...
Walter Shawlee, the Sovereign of Slide Rules, Is Dead at 73
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Walter Shawlee, the Sovereign of Slide Rules, Is Dead at 73

For about 350 years, humanity’s most innovative hand-held computer was something called a slide rule. As typewriters once symbolized the writer, slide rules symbolized the engineer.These analog calculators came in metal, wood, plastic and even bamboo, and they could be found all over the world. Their functions included computing higher-order multiplications, exponents and logarithms, among other mathematical operations. They were usually long and rectangular with a retractable middle segment, and they featured dense fields of letters, lines and numbers stacked on top of one another.They looked almost comically abstruse, as if they might be used as paddles in the hazing rituals of a math fraternity.Non-nerds struggled to make sense of them. Then, in the early 1970s, lightweight electronic c...
Israel-Hamas War: Live Updates – The New York Times
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Israel-Hamas War: Live Updates – The New York Times

A U.S. Special Operations retaliatory drone strike in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday killed a senior leader of a militia that U.S. officials blame for recent attacks on American personnel, the Pentagon said, following up on President Biden’s promise that the response to a slew of attacks by Shiite militias would continue.The Pentagon said the man was a leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, the militia that officials have said was responsible for the drone attack in Jordan last month that killed three American service members and injured more than 40.A U.S. official said that the strike was a “dynamic” hit on the militia commander, whom American intelligence officials had been tracking for some time. A second official said the United States reserved the right to strike other Shiite militia leaders a...
A Fossilized Tree That Dr. Seuss Might Have Dreamed Up
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A Fossilized Tree That Dr. Seuss Might Have Dreamed Up

In the ancient prehistory of Earth, there is a chapter that waits to be told known as Romer’s gap. Researchers have identified a hiatus in the tetrapod fossil record between 360 million and 345 million years ago, after fish had begun to adapt to land and more than 80 million years before the first dinosaurs.While mysteries remain about evolution’s experiments with living things during that 15-million-year gap, a fossilized tree described in a new paper offers greater insights to some of what was happening during this period in nature’s laboratory.Named Sanfordiacaulis densifolia, the tree had a six-inch diameter with a nearly 10-foot-tall trunk composed not of wood, but of vascular plant material, like ferns. Its crown had more than 200 finely striated, compound leaves emanating from spira...
Forest Fire on Chile’s Coast Kills At Least 64 and Leaves Hundreds Missing
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Forest Fire on Chile’s Coast Kills At Least 64 and Leaves Hundreds Missing

Days after devastating wildfires ripped through Chile’s Pacific Coast, ravaging entire neighborhoods and trapping people fleeing in cars, officials said on Sunday that at least 99 people had been killed and hundreds remained missing and warned that the number of dead could rise sharply.“That number is going to go up, we know it’s going to go up significantly,” President Gabriel Boric said on Sunday, describing the fires in the Valparaíso region as the worst disaster in the country since a cataclysmic earthquake in 2010 left more than 400 people dead and displaced 1.5 million.“We’re standing before a tragedy of immense proportions,” said the president, who visited the fire zone and announced that the nation would observe two days of mourning. He said a top priority was to recover the bodies...
A Public Inquiry Into Foreign Election Meddling Comes Up Against Secrecy
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A Public Inquiry Into Foreign Election Meddling Comes Up Against Secrecy

There were no dramatic revelations from the first week of hearings into possible foreign interference during the last two Canadian federal elections.Instead, what the country got was a very Canadian discussion about how to balance the desire for public access with the need to keep intelligence secure in a government that defaults to secrecy.Let’s pause to recall how the country got here.Last year, The Globe and Mail and Global News reported that secret and top-secret intelligence showed that the government of China and its diplomats in Canada had meddled in the last two elections to make sure that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party took power. The newspaper published 17 articles in all, and its unnamed source is still being sought by the police. The source wrote a first-person a...
Israel-Hamas War News: Biden Imposes Sanctions on Israeli Settlers Over West Bank Violence
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Israel-Hamas War News: Biden Imposes Sanctions on Israeli Settlers Over West Bank Violence

President Biden on Thursday ordered broad financial and travel sanctions on Israeli settlers accused of violent attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, a gesture aimed in part at Arab American voters in the United States who have expressed fury about the president’s backing of Israel’s war in Gaza.Mr. Biden authorized the sanctions with an executive order that goes further than a directive issued in December by the State Department, which imposed visa bans on dozens of Israeli settlers who have committed acts of violence in the West Bank.The new order cuts people off from the U.S. financial system and from assets or property they have in the United States. It also prevents them from traveling to the United States. Four people would be sanctioned on Thursday but there will be more announc...
How the Border Crisis Shattered Biden’s Immigration Hopes
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How the Border Crisis Shattered Biden’s Immigration Hopes

On President Biden’s first day in office, he paused nearly all deportations. He vowed to end the harsh practices of the Trump administration, show compassion toward those wishing to come to the United States and secure the southern border.For Mr. Biden, it was a matter of principle. He wanted to show the world that the United States was a humane nation, while also demonstrating to his fellow citizens that government could work again.But those early promises have largely been set aside as chaos engulfs the border and imperils Mr. Biden’s re-election hopes. The number of people crossing into the United States has reached record levels, more than double than in the Trump years. The asylum system is still all but broken.On Friday, in a dramatic turnaround from those early days, the president i...
U.S. Blames Iran-Backed Militia For Soldier Deaths: Israel-Hamas Live Updates
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U.S. Blames Iran-Backed Militia For Soldier Deaths: Israel-Hamas Live Updates

Three U.S. service members were killed in Jordan on Sunday and at least 34 others were injured in what the Biden administration said was a drone attack from an Iran-backed militia, the first known American military fatalities from hostile fire in the turmoil spilling over from Israel’s war with Hamas.The attack happened at a remote logistics outpost in northeast Jordan called Tower 22 where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan converge. The one-way attack drone hit near the outpost’s living quarters, causing injuries that ranged from minor cuts to brain trauma, a U.S. military official said.But the deaths of U.S. service members, most of whom were military reservists, will almost certainly increase pressure on President Biden to retaliate more forcefully as strife grows in the Middle East...