Friday Briefing: Islamic State Claims the Iran Bombing

A photo released by Iran’s state-run news media on Wednesday of the site of the explosions in Kerman.Credit…Sare Tajalli/ISNA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Islamic State said it was behind the Iran bombing

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing attack that killed at least 84 people in Kerman, Iran, on Wednesday, according to a post on the extremist group’s official Telegram account.

The group called the attack a “dual martyrdom operation,” and described how two militants had detonated explosive belts strapped to their bodies during a commemoration ceremony at the tomb of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. The general, a widely revered and feared Iranian military leader, was assassinated four years ago in a U.S. drone attack.

The Islamic State was probably seizing an opportunity to hit an enemy, U.S. officials said. The Sunni Muslim group has claimed responsibility for several previous attacks on Iran, which has a Shiite Islamic government and runs an alliance of Shiite groups across the Middle East.

The bombing in Iran, and the killing of Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday, has heightened fears of a regional war that could draw in the U.S. Just hours after the bombs went off in Iran, the U.S. and 12 of its allies issued a written warning to the Houthis of Yemen, who have been mounting near-daily attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

The U.S. has held back from retaliating against Houthi bases in Yemen, in large part because it does not want to undermine a fragile truce in the country’s civil war. But on Wednesday it accused Iran, which has supplied weapons and intelligence to the Houthis, of involvement in the Red Sea attacks.

In the war in Gaza:

  • The Gazan government media office said that Israeli strikes in six locations in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, had killed more than 30 people over the last three days.

  • Israel’s military said that soldiers who shot three hostages while they waved a white flag last month had violated its rules of engagement.

  • Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, pledged revenge for the killing of al-Arouri.

Taiwan reported some of the balloons’ proximity to the island’s military bases.Credit…Chiang Ying-Ying/Associated Press

Balloons float over Taiwan as an election approaches

A surge in sightings of balloons from China flying over Taiwan has drawn the attention of the island’s military and struck some experts as a calculatedly ambiguous warning. On Jan. 13, Taiwanese voters will choose a president and a legislature, and Beijing has made no secret of wanting the governing Democratic Progressive Party to lose power.

China may be using the flights to warn Taiwan of its military strength without tipping into baldfaced confrontation. Instead of planes and ships, the country has “shifted to balloons that can be used for a certain kind of lower-intensity intimidation and harassment,” said Ko Yong-Sen, a research fellow at the Taipei-based Institute for National Defense and Security Research.

But so far Taiwan has experienced none of the alarm that many Americans felt last year when a Chinese surveillance balloon floated across the U.S. Taiwanese people, accustomed to Chinese military flights near the island, have generally reacted to the balloons with calm, if not indifference.

A photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on Monday that it said shows Kim Jong-un with his daughter, Kim Ju-ae.Credit…KCNA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Kim Jong-un’s daughter is his likely successor, South Korea said

South Korea’s intelligence agency told lawmakers yesterday that Kim Ju-ae, as South Korean officials have identified her, “is seen as the most likely successor” to her father, Kim Jong-un, as North Korea’s leader.

North Korea has not revealed any personal details about the daughter, including her name or age, but she is believed to be about 10 years old. State media has referred to her as a “most beloved” or “respected” child of Kim and has shown military generals and other high-ranking officials kneeling before her.

She made her first public appearance in November 2022, when she watched a long-range missile test with her father. If Ju-ae replaces Kim as leader, she would be the first female ruler of the deeply patriarchal and male-dominant North.


Around the World

A Ukrainian soldier along the front line near Marinka in August.Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
  • Evidence has grown that Russia is in control of Marinka. Its capture would be Moscow’s most significant territorial advance in Ukraine in more than six months.

  • House Democrats released evidence that Donald Trump received at least $7.8 million from foreign entities while in office.

  • Logging has inflicted severe damage to vast forests in Canada that are crucial to fighting climate change.

  • Newly unsealed court documents shed more light on Jeffrey Epstein’s misdeeds but did not offer a smoking gun about his associates.

  • Demand for train travel in Europe is strong, and governments and private investors are trying to catch up by adding routes.

Other Big Stories

  • The U.S. awarded $162 million to a microchip company that serves military and space programs, as part of an effort to stabilize semiconductor supply chains.

  • A major French supermarket chain dropped PepsiCo products, accusing the company of maintaining “unacceptably” high prices despite falling inflation.

  • Denmark’s next queen is a progressive, common-born former Australian.

  • The rock band Rage Against the Machine announced that its touring days were over.

A Morning Read

A JunoCam capture of Io from Oct. 15, showed a plume ejected from a volcano.Credit…NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Juno, a NASA mission designed to study Jupiter’s origins, sent back new images of Io, one of the planet’s largest moons and the most volcanically active world in our solar system.

The snapshots show sharp cliffs, edgy mountain peaks, lakes of pooled lava and even a volcanic plume. Studying these features could help scientists figure out what drives Io’s volcanoes, some of which shoot lava dozens of miles into space, and might offer clues to how Jupiter and its satellites formed.


Credit…Cristina Spanò

The seven keys to longevity

Sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, experimenting with cryotherapy or blasting oneself with infrared light are modern techniques for those chasing a longer life. But most aging experts are skeptical they’ll deliver on the claims surrounding them.

“People are looking for the magic pill,” said Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, the scientific director of the National Institute on Aging, “and the magic pill is already here.”

So here are seven methods, backed by actual evidence, to help you live longer and better. Here’s a preview: Make sure to move around and eat more vegetables.


Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Cook: Vietnamese-style spring rolls are refreshing and light.

Health: Quit believing these fitness myths.

Read: Here arenine new books we recommend this week.

Watch: In “Mayhem!,”an ultraviolent revenge thriller, a former convict struggles to go straight.

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. These were our favorite facts from 2023.

We welcome your feedback. Send us your suggestions at [email protected].

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