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Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning. We’re covering a U.S. strike that killed Al Qaeda’s leader and the first Ukrainian grain shipments since the war began.

A U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the top leader of Al Qaeda and a key plotter of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He took over Al Qaeda after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

“Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” President Biden said in an address to Americans last night.

The strike, in the heart of downtown Kabul over the weekend, was the first U.S. attack in Afghanistan since American forces left the country last year. The Taliban condemned the operation. Here are live updates.

Legacy: Zawahri, 71, was born in Egypt and trained as a surgeon before becoming a jihadist. He profoundly shaped Al Qaeda and its terrorist movements with his writing and arguments. He was widely depicted as the organization’s intellectual spine, but his death is likely to have little impact on the group’s day-to-day operations.

Politics: The strike is a significant victory for the Biden administration’s counterterrorism efforts, bolstering the president’s argument that the U.S. can still fight terrorist organizations without major deployments of ground forces.

Context: The U.S. claims that the Taliban violated a peace agreement by letting al-Zawahri into Afghanistan. The Taliban claims the U.S. violated a peace agreement by conducting the strike.


A ship loaded with corn left Ukraine yesterday for the first time since Russia invaded in February.

The departure of the ship raised hopes that desperately needed grain would soon reach the Middle East and Africa. It is set to be inspected in Turkish waters today before continuing on to Lebanon. There are 16 more ships waiting to leave Odesa in the coming days, a Ukrainian official said.

But the shipments may do little to ease global hunger, which has increased, fueled by wars, climate issues and the coronavirus pandemic. In the Horn of Africa, for instance, a four-year drought has left 18 million people facing severe hunger.

Background: A Russian blockade has prevented Ukraine from exporting roughly 20 million tons of grain. Last month, Turkey and the U.N. brokered an agreement with Ukraine and Russia to restart exports. Here are details on the deal.

Warning: Citing the war and tensions over North Korea and Iran, António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, said that humanity was “just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

Fighting: Russia has turned Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into a fortress. Local residents worry that shelling could lead to a radiation leak.


Pelosi, the U.S. House speaker, has not confirmed that she plans to visit the self-governing island on a closely watched tour to Asia. But all indications suggest that she will visit, perhaps as early as this evening.

American officials sought to reassure Beijing that such a visit would not be the first of its kind nor represent any change in policy toward the region. Nothing about a potential visit “would change the status quo,” John Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, told reporters.

The U.S. also warned China to keep a cool head. “There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or conflict, or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said.

Analysis: Current economic and political forces may make Beijing unlikely to court a crisis.

Beijing: Xi Jinping, China’s leader, has long vowed to answer any challenge to the country’s claim to Taiwan. And the Foreign Ministry responded 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 when the U.S. is already consumed with the war in Ukraine.

Food is identity. But for Korean chefs who are adopted, it can be complicated.

In the U.S., through restaurant cooking, they’re exploring a heritage they didn’t grow up with. Some call their food Korean-style, Korean-inspired or “vaguely Asian.”

But as they find fulfillment and connection in the kitchen, their dishes sometimes attract criticism for not being Korean enough.

In Singapore, temperatures are rising at twice the global average. Many fear that the extreme heat could make the affluent city-state uninhabitable.

So to “keep Singapore livable,” the government is funding a high-tech, multi-institutional project to try to tackle the challenge of urban heat. Researchers are building a computer model of Singapore to let policymakers analyze the effectiveness of various heat mitigation measures — and make district-specific tweaks — before spending money.

Winston Chow, the lead researcher, described his team’s approach as trying to find “the critical component of climate that really affects your discomfort.” Is it low wind speed? High air temperatures? Solar radiation? The answer, he said, “can help a lot with smarter urban design at the planning level, or with how individuals deal with heat.”

Singapore’s wealth gives it the resources to invest in such high-tech solutions. But its geographical position near the Equator also makes it a good model for other countries, particularly nations in the tropics.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills

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The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists

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This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
BRIGITTE STELZER

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’

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Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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