Polling agents helping voters yesterday in Dhaka, Bangladesh.Credit…Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters
Bangladesh voted amid crackdowns and boycotts
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh was nearly guaranteed a fourth consecutive term in office as voting ended in a low-turnout election yesterday.
Security remained tight as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the main opposition, boycotted the election as unfair and pushed for a nationwide strike. In the days leading up to the vote, violence was reported across the country — including arson that killed four people on a train in Dhaka, the capital, and the torching of more than a dozen polling stations.
The opposition’s effort to protest the vote has been met with an intensified crackdown. More than 20,000 B.N.P. members and leaders have been arrested since the party’s last major rally, in October, according to party leaders and lawyers. Millions of the party’s members have been bogged down with court appointments.
Hasina’s officials tried to play down the B.N.P.’s boycott, but her moves in the final stretch of the campaign made clear that she was worried about the vote’s legitimacy. She instructed her party to prop up dummy candidates so it did not look as if it won unchallenged.
What’s next: “There is a risk of increased violence after the polls, from both sides,” said Pierre Prakash, the Asia director for the International Crisis Group. “If the B.N.P. feels the largely nonviolent strategy it deployed in the run-up to the 2024 election has failed, leaders could come under pressure to revert to the more overt violence of the past.”
And if the B.N.P. does resort to widespread violence, Prakash said, it will be walking right into a trap. Hasina’s party has been laying the groundwork for an even wider crackdown as it pushes a narrative that the opposition is filled with “terrorists” and “killers.”
U.S. continued its efforts to contain the war in Gaza
Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, held meetings yesterday with leaders in Jordan as part of a weeklong eastern Mediterranean and Middle East tour aimed at reducing the risk that the war could spread in the region.
Blinken then flew to Qatar to meet with the prime minister and the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who said that Qatar was trying to push forward with hostage talks.
Here’s the latest.
In Gaza, Israel’s military said that it had dismantled Hamas’s military capabilities in the north, and that it was now focusing on doing the same in the central and southern areas, where it said it planned to take a different approach to destroying Hamas.
Also in Gaza, two journalists were killed. One was Hamza al-Dahdouh, the eldest son of Wael al-Dahdouh, a well-known Palestinian correspondent for Al Jazeera TV.
In the West Bank, an uptick in violence left at least nine Palestinians dead, including a young child, an Israeli officer and a resident of Jerusalem.
A Japanese steel bid has become a test for Biden
U.S. Steel is an example of the lost manufacturing muscle that President Biden says his economic policies will bring back to the U.S. But the company announced plans last month to be acquired by Nippon Steel, a Japanese competitor, in a $14.1 billion deal, putting Biden in an awkward bind.
Unions, as well as populist Democrats and Republicans, are pressuring him to block the sale, a move in line with what is arguably his primary economic goal: the creation and retention of high-paying union manufacturing jobs.
But as Biden courts Japanese collaboration on a wide range of issues — including efforts to counter Chinese manufacturing in clean energy and other emerging technologies — blocking the sale may risk angering a key American ally.
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ARTS AND IDEAS
Channeling the pain of Chinese immigrants
More than 200 poems were inscribed on barrack walls at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, where hundreds of thousands of people, mostly from China and Japan, were questioned and held — sometimes for months or even years — as they sought entry to the U.S. in the first part of the 20th century.
Their harrowing accounts form the emotional core of “Angel Island,” an oratorio by the Chinese-born composer Huang Ruo. The piece has its New York premiere this month at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in a staging that is part of the opera and theater festival Prototype. The composer said he wanted to offer people a history they didn’t learn in school.
“This is not just a Chinese American story,” Huang said. “This is an American story.”
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Resolve: Sign up for Well’s Mediterranean diet email to shift your eating pattern.
Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin
P.S. Here’s how Debra Kamin, who covers real estate for The Times, investigated sexual assault in the industry.
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