Thursday Briefing: Blasts in Iran Kill Dozens


A pair of explosions yesterday at a commemoration for Iran’s former top military general, Qassim Suleimani, killed at least 95 people and wounded another 211, according to Iranian officials. The blasts heightened tensions in the broader region a day after an explosion killed several Hamas officials in a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon.

Iranian officials told state media that a pair of bombs exploded near a cemetery in Kerman, Iran, as a procession of people was on its way to observe the anniversary of the assassination of General Suleimani, who was killed four years ago in an American drone strike. Officials said the bombs appeared to have been detonated via remote control. Given the sheer scale of the blasts, the death toll was likely to rise.

Elsewhere in the Middle East:

“Everyone started yelling in Japanese,” Anton Deibe, a 17-year-old passenger from Stockholm, told The Times. “I didn’t understand anything.” Still, he said, “there was a lot less commotion than I would have thought. The passengers were calm.”

What happened? Clues about what caused the collision are starting to emerge. In a transcript of communications between the air traffic control tower and both the JAL jet and the Coast Guard plane involved in the collision, it appeared that the commercial flight was given permission to land while the Coast Guard aircraft was told to “taxi to holding point” next to the runway.

Nine high-ranking Chinese military figures were recently removed as delegates to the country’s Communist Party-run legislature. The shake-up came abruptly and without official explanation.

The figures included some of the rising stars in President Xi Jinping’s military. Experts who track China’s military said the dismissals appeared to be designed to assert Xi’s control over the arms sector. They noted that the dismissals apparently excluded his longstanding allies, at least for now.

Context: Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has initiated scorching, high-decibel crackdowns on Communist Party officials and generals. However, this latest campaign has been conducted mostly in quiet.

Gunung Padang, a partly excavated site in Indonesia, has become the center of a raging debate after a geologist claimed that it was the “world’s oldest pyramid.” The geologist’s research has fueled a dispute over the age of the site and prompted warnings about the dangers of nationalist mythmaking.

My colleagues on the Well desk are kicking off the year with the 6-Day Energy Challenge, which focuses on the elements in your life that can affect how energized you feel.

In their most recent entry, they focus on food, and the day’s task is simple: Notice how the foods you eat make you feel. Two hours after you have a meal or a snack, jot down any sensations you’re experiencing and rate your energy level.

If the results have you wanting to make a change, Well has some ideas on tweaks you can make to your diet. For example: Fill your plate with foods rich in fiber, complex carbs and protein, which can slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and help prevent fatigue.

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