C.D.C. Director’s $375,000 Salary Will Be Cut


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Dr. Robert R. Redfield’s salary is being reduced following reports that he was being paid more than the Health and Human Services secretary, the head of the Food and Drug Administration and the director of the National Institutes of Health.

Credit
Tracey Brown/University of Maryland School of Medicine, via Associated Press

The government will lower the $375,000 salary of the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, after reports that he was being paid considerably more than previous directors, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Monday, though it declined to say what his new pay will be.

Dr. Redfield, who became the C.D.C. director in March, had been given the higher salary under a provision called Title 42. It was created by Congress to allow federal agencies to offer compensation that is competitive with the private sector in order to attract top-notch scientists with expertise that the departments would not otherwise have. News reports of his earnings sparked complaints from Senate Democrats and watchdog groups.

“Dr. Redfield has expressed to Secretary Azar that he does not wish to have his compensation become a distraction for the important work of the C.D.C.,” an H.H.S. spokeswoman, who declined to be named, wrote in an emailed response to questions from The New York Times. “Therefore, consistent with Dr. Redfield’s request to the Secretary, Dr. Redfield’s compensation will be adjusted accordingly.”

Title 42 was not used for Dr. Redfield’s predecessor, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, an obstetrician-gynecologist, who was paid $197,300 a year until she resigned in January, or for her predecessor, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, an infectious disease specialist and the former health commissioner of New York City, whose salary was $219,700.

Dr. Redfield, an H.I.V./AIDS researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and co-founder of its Institute of Human Virology, was also being paid more than his boss, Alex M. Azar II, the H.H.S. secretary; Dr. Scott Gottlieb, head of the Food and Drug Administration; and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

Each of those political appointees is paid less than $200,000 a year, and Dr. Gottlieb and Mr. Azar took much larger pay cuts in their government jobs than did Dr. Redfield, who reported $757,100 in salary and bonuses from the University of Maryland Department of Medicine for 2017 through mid-March of 2018.

“The recruitment of Dr. Robert Redfield was a rare opportunity to hire one of the world’s leading virologists,” Caitlin Oakley, an H.H.S. spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. “Dr. Redfield has over 30 years of experience as a groundbreaking scientist, academic researcher, and clinician who has been a global leader in the fight against one of the most devastating infectious diseases of our time — HIV/AIDS. The selection of Dr. Redfield was the right choice at the right time for the right purpose. Dr. Redfield is someone who understands this work from all of these perspectives and has firsthand knowledge of what researchers and practitioners need to keep the American people safe at home and abroad.”

After Dr. Redfield’s salary was reported by news organizations, Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington state, wrote to Mr. Azar questioning Dr. Redfield’s salary and the use of the Title 42 provision to compensate him so highly. She asked whether the agency made an “extensive and exhaustive” effort to find a director before deciding to pay Dr. Redfield under the special exemption. And she also asked for documentation of those search and recruitment efforts, including the descriptions of the job as a “scientific position.”

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Labour suspends Corbyn critic amid harassment claims



Labour MP John Woodcock, an arch-critic of Jeremy Corbyn, has been suspended from the party pending an “ongoing case”.

The reason for the suspension has not yet been confirmed but it comes after allegations of sexual harassment over the weekend.

Mr Woodcock has denied the claims, saying he “does not accept” them.

Reports in the Sunday Mirror said he was alleged to have sent inappropriate texts and emails to a former female staff member between 2014 and 2016.

Responding to that report, Mr Woodcock said: “I was made aware in December last year that a complaint made against me was being referred to Labour’s national constitutional committee as a potential breach of the party’s policy on sexual harassment.

“I do not accept the charge but know the complaint must be thoroughly and fairly investigated.

“I have not yet been notified of any date for a hearing and was following the party’s guidance that the process should remain confidential to reassure potential victims that they could make complaints without being exposed to unwelcome publicity.

“Therefore I do not intend to discuss details of the issue ahead of any hearing.”

A Labour Party spokeswoman said on Monday evening:”John Woodcock has been suspended from the Labour Party pending due process.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further on an ongoing case.”

Mr Woodcock was first elected Labour MP for Barrow and Furness in 2010 and was shadow minister for transport between 2010 and 2013.

More follows…

Disclosure 'failings' in rape case woman did not want prosecuted


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Getty Creative

New failings over the disclosure of evidence in the criminal justice system have emerged after prosecutors charged a man with rape in a case where the woman involved did not want a charge to be brought.

The police then failed to list her statement, in which she said she did not believe the man had done anything wrong, in the so-called schedule of unused evidence that could help the defence.

The case – one of the latest to expose failings in the system in England and Wales – was uncovered by BBC Panorama.

All current rape and serious sexual offence cases are being reviewed and the Director of Public Prosecutions told the programme some have already been sent back to the police for further investigation.

Prosecution dropped

It is the role of the police and prosecution to ensure defence teams have all the evidence that may undermine the case.

But both the men’s barristers say they were not aware of the woman’s statement until the start of his trial in January, although the Crown Prosecution Service says it was sent to the solicitors months earlier.

The judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court then asked the Crown Prosecution Service to review its decision and it dropped the case.

  • All current rape cases ‘urgently’ reviewed
  • CPS chief insists justice is working

The case involved two men who went home with a young woman after meeting her and a friend on a night out.

Back at her flat, the woman “Jane” says that the two men started trying to have sex with her.

Jane, not her real name, told Panorama one of the men involved, Male Two, stopped as soon as she asked him to. The other man, Male One, continued having sex despite her protests.

She says Male Two pulled the other man off her.

After reporting the incident to police, she made a statement in which she said: “I do not believe Male Two should be charged. I do not believe he did anything wrong on the night.

“I am thankful that Male Two was there as without him I do not know how long Male One would have continued to have sex with me.”

Police notebook

The CPS charged both men with rape.

The men’s barristers say they only found out about the woman’s statement at the start of the trial, after they spotted a reference to it in a police notebook.

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PA

Image caption

The Director of Public Prosecutions stands by the decision to bring the case

The CPS said it sent Jane’s statement to the defence solicitors months before. One solicitor now says the statement was received it but only found recently.

Jane later withdrew her support for the prosecution of the other man, Male One.

His defence team requested a further download of material from her phone. She felt it was disproportionate. She was also affected by the delays in the original trial.

“I had so much faith in the judicial system. And now, after this, I’ve completely lost faith,” she said.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, told Panorama she stood by the CPS decision to prosecute Male Two.

“We prosecute on the evidence, not on necessarily what a complainant, what her views might or might not be.”

She says the CPS dropped the prosecution of Male Two when it got to court because it has a continuing duty to review.

Ms Saunders said: “There were some issues that were raised at the point of that particular suspect’s trial and we decided, looking at it again, we shouldn’t proceed with it.”

Panorama – Getting a Fair Trial will be broadcast on BBC One on Monday 30 April, at 20:30 BST, or watch later on BBC iPlayer

Israel says Iran hid nuclear arms programme


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Media caption“A great intelligence achievement”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revealed what he says are “secret nuclear files” proving Iran once covertly pursued nuclear weapons.

He said thousands of pages of material obtained by Israel showed Iran had deceived the world by denying it had ever sought nuclear weapons.

Iran agreed in 2015 to curb its nuclear energy programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

It maintained that it had only been pursuing nuclear energy.

US President Donald Trump, who has long threatened to scrap the nuclear deal, said the situation was not “acceptable” and he would make a decision on the deal on or before 12 May.

European powers have said they are committed to upholding the accord.

Tweeting earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appeared to accuse Mr Netanyahu of “fooling people”.

  • Could the nuclear deal collapse?
  • Why the bomb is back

Political theatre

By Jonathan Marcus, diplomatic correspondent, BBC News

This was political theatre from the Israeli prime minister, but to what extent was it revelation?

Israel’s claim to have been able to steal or access files and documents from what it says was the secret Iranian nuclear archive located in a warehouse in south Tehran may be a tale of daring espionage in itself but, beyond that, what is really new?

Iran of course has insisted consistently that it never had a nuclear weapons programme but there were growing international concerns about its nuclear activities. That is precisely why the major powers entered into the 2015 agreement with Tehran in the first place, both to contain its nuclear programme and to introduce a greater level of outside scrutiny.

France, Germany and Britain who all back the maintenance of the agreement have had their say with Mr Trump – the US president must decide upon its fate in mid-May. Now Mr Netanyahu has had his turn to put the contrary view.

What ‘proof’ did Netanyahu produce?

Speaking in English from Israel’s defence ministry in Tel Aviv, Mr Netanyahu showed off what he said were “exact copies” of documents obtained by Israeli intelligence from a secret storage facility in Tehran.

There were, he said, 55,000 pages of evidence and a further 55,000 files on 183 CDs relating to a nuclear weapons programme called “Project Amad”.

The project, he said, had had the explicit goal of producing five warheads, each with the yield of 10 kilotonnes of TNT.

Delivering a PowerPoint presentation, he said the dossiers showed Iran had pursued the key elements of a nuclear weapons programme, such as designing nuclear weapons and preparing for nuclear tests.

Iran, he said, had considered five different sites for conducting nuclear weapons tests.

“Here’s what the files included: incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more,” he said.

“These files conclusively prove that Iran was brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons programme.”

The files had been shared with the US, Mr Netanyahu said, and would be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

A 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate assessed “with high confidence” that Iran did have a nuclear weapons programme up until 2003 but that Iran had stopped it after its discovery.

On Monday the Israeli prime minister argued the existence of the alleged files proved Iran had been “secretly storing Project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons”.

How was the 2015 deal meant to work?

The agreement signed between Iran and six world powers lifted crippling economic sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

There had been fears that Iran would use the programme to create a nuclear weapon.

Under the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is committed to slashing the number of its centrifuges, which are machines used to enrich uranium.

It is also meant to cut its stockpile of enriched uranium drastically and not enrich remaining uranium to the level needed to produce nuclear weapons.

The number of centrifuges installed at Iran’s Natanz and Fordo sites was cut drastically soon after the deal while tonnes of low-enriched uranium were shipped to Russia.

Furthermore, monitors from the IAEA have been able to carry out snap inspections at Iranian nuclear sites.

  • Iran nuclear deal: Key details

How dangerous is the enmity between Israel and Iran?

Tension between the long-standing enemies has grown steadily since Iran built up its military presence in Syria, Israel’s north-eastern neighbour.

Iran has also been accused of supplying weaponry to Lebanese Shia Muslim militant group Hezbollah, an enemy of Israel, and also smuggling arms to Palestinian militants.

Mr Netanyahu has long vowed to stop Iran from strengthening its military presence in Syria.

On Sunday night, a wave of unclaimed air strikes on targets in Syria reportedly killed a number of Iranians.

Sites allegedly linked to a covert Syrian chemical weapons programme were bombed by Western nations earlier this month.

Israel has also carried out, or is believed to have carried out, dozens of air strikes on facilities in Syria used by Iranian forces.

They Survived a Massacre. Then the Lawyers Started Calling.


The shooting rampages that have terrorized communities across the country have spurred lawsuits from the ever-growing ranks of victims and survivors seeking a measure of justice. And many survivors say that within days of the traumatizing events, they face relentless pressure to sign representation contracts.

“We’ve all gotten a thousand phone calls from lawyers,” said Chad Robertson, who survived the Las Vegas shooting and helped administer a handful of survivor support groups on Facebook.

But even in the high-pressure world of solicitations, Mr. Hansen and other survivors’ experiences with the firm they hired after Orlando stand out as unusual. Clients described Mr. Groff going to extraordinary lengths to snag more business for his firm. Two men also said that while they were being asked to solicit more clients, Mr. Groff sent them sexually charged messages.

In the weeks after that shooting in June 2016, Mr. Hansen said he was approached by Mr. Groff, who said he was with the Law Offices of Conrad J. Benedetto, a Philadelphia-based plaintiffs’ law firm. The firm also has offices in New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Arkansas, according to its website.

The firm’s work has ranged from personal injury cases to environmental contamination, civil rights complaints and bankruptcies. But it has also pursued mass shooting cases after attacks at the Pulse nightclub, the Las Vegas concert and at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex. The firm’s website touts its work on shooting cases. It has filed at least one lawsuit so far stemming from a mass shooting, joining with other firms to sue a security company that once employed the Pulse gunman.

Hundreds of families have turned to the legal system after mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and more. Often, they find themselves facing a multiyear legal crusade, with slim chances of success.

The primary people responsible — the gunmen — are often dead or do not have nearly enough wealth to compensate even a fraction of their victims. Federal laws insulate gun makers from legal liability.

Despite these hurdles, some victims say they go to court to expose safety flaws, law enforcement lapses or negligence at a theater or concert venue where gunshots erupted. Others sue to pry open the private internal records of gun makers. A lawsuit can become one more way of speaking for the dead.

Two survivors of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., have sent letters of intent to sue to the school district as well as local and federal law enforcement agencies over the response to the shooting and the multiple unheeded warnings about the gunman.

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Javier Nava, who was shot in the abdomen during the Pulse attack, said cross-country trips organized by the law firm felt like recruiting seminars. “They wanted me to share my history, but get more clients,” Mr. Nava said.

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Zack Wittman for The New York Times

States write their own rules governing how lawyers can solicit business, sometimes requiring them to wait 30 days after a wrongful death or personal injury before approaching potential clients. California law does not allow firms to solicit people who may still be too physically or mentally scarred to make reasonable decisions about hiring a lawyer.

Jamie Lynn Gallegos, who survived the Vegas shooting, said she was still in shock when her phone started ringing about two weeks after the attack in October. From 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., calls poured in for her and her husband, their sons and others who had gone together to the Route 91 festival, she said.

“They were relentless,” said Ms. Gallegos, who with her husband transported Las Vegas gunshot victims in the bed of their pickup truck.

Getting involved with the Benedetto firm forged an accidental brotherhood for Mr. Hansen and a few other Pulse survivors who signed up as clients. They appeared together on a rainbow-colored float at Boston’s gay pride parade last June.

This year, they went on cross-country trips organized by the firm to meet other mass-shooting survivors in Las Vegas and California. They ate at glittering Las Vegas restaurants and saw the Grand Canyon.

But three of the men said they began to feel more like sales executives, sent to draw more business for the firm by making promotional videos and appearing at meetings with other mass-shooting survivors.

“They were using our story,” Mr. Hansen said in an interview.

The men said they did not raise their concerns with anyone at the law firm at the time, including Mr. Benedetto, the owner, or with any state agencies that regulate professional conduct.

Mr. Benedetto said his firm treated all of its clients with professionalism and respect. In an interview, he said that his clients have his cellphone number and “can call me to voice any complaints.” That never happened, he said.

“It would be unfortunate if any unsubstantiated and false allegations have been wrongfully spread through the community,” Mr. Benedetto said in an email.

He added: “We represent victims who have been seriously injured and emotionally distressed and we respect them and will always support them to the fullest moral, ethical and legal standards.”

Brian Nunez, a client who left Pulse moments before the shooting and felt traumatized by survivors’ guilt, joined up with the firm and flew to Las Vegas in January for what he believed was a support meeting with victims of the massacre there.

“When we got there, the setting changed completely,” Mr. Nunez said. “It was, ‘You guys, you do your job and get other people to sign up.’ That’s it.”

Mr. Nunez said he was asked to record a promotional video for the Benedetto firm, “saying who we are, what our tragedy was and what they’ve done for us.”

“I didn’t even feel comfortable recording it,” Mr. Nunez said, though he went through with it.

Javier Nava, a restaurant manager who was shot in the abdomen during the Pulse attack, signed up with the firm and joined the Las Vegas and California trips, also believing the meetings were aimed at helping survivors share their stories and connect with one another. But he said the gatherings felt like recruiting seminars.

“They wanted me to share my history, but get more clients,” Mr. Nava said. “This is the deal. They are using me.”

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Orlando Torres, another survivor of the Pulse attack, said he had been surprised to see his name listed among the plaintiffs on a federal civil suit.

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Zack Wittman for The New York Times

Mr. Groff, the law firm’s office manager, is also listed as an administrator of a private Facebook group called Survivors of Mass Shootings whose mission is to “help each other through our healing process, rather it be a few days or a lifetime.”

Many of the state rules that regulate legal advertisements require that direct mail and advertising circulars include prominent disclaimers to make clear they are soliciting business. But often, those rules make no mention of Facebook groups, online messaging, friend requests and other everyday modes of communication.

It was during the trips with other survivors that two of the men said they also began to have uncomfortable interactions with Mr. Groff, who they said arranged their travel, took them out to meals, provided their tickets and drove them from meeting to meeting.

Mr. Groff is not a lawyer, but he served as a primary contact with shooting survivors, clients said. He could be personable and funny, and spent hours with the men, traveling and talking and winning their confidence, they said.

But Mr. Nunez and Mr. Nava provided screenshots showing Mr. Groff had sent them sexually charged messages.

In February, Mr. Groff took the Pulse survivors on a trip to California, and the text messages between him and Mr. Nava grew increasingly sexual until he offered to perform oral sex on Mr. Nava, according to a screenshot. He persisted as Mr. Nava declined several times.

Mr. Nunez and Mr. Nava said they were shaken by the exchanges, calling them a betrayal of a professional relationship. They said they have not spoken recently with Mr. Groff and have since hired a new lawyer.

Mr. Benedetto did not respond to questions about the allegations of sexual harassment, or to an email detailing questions about Mr. Groff’s background, behavior and role with clients. Mr. Groff did not respond to multiple phone messages or social media messages seeking comment.

There have been previous complaints about Mr. Groff’s behavior. In December 2015, a former client, Javier Carrasquillo, filed a lawsuit in Camden County, N.J., saying that Mr. Groff had traded sex with Mr. Carrasquillo and his girlfriend in exchange for legal services after Mr. Carrasquillo was arrested.

The lawsuit was settled. Matthew Wolf, the lawyer for Mr. Carrasquillo, said he could not comment publicly about the case.

The lawsuit brought some public notice to Mr. Groff’s criminal history. Since the 1990s, he has been convicted of charges relating to passing bad checks and “theft by deception,” according to New Jersey court records.

The Pulse survivors who worked with Mr. Groff’s employer, the Benedetto law firm, said they knew none of this when they signed up, and said they were still largely in the dark about the lawsuits being filed in their names.

Orlando Torres, a Pulse survivor who also signed up with the Benedetto firm, said he had been surprised to see his name listed among the plaintiffs on a federal civil suit filed in March 2017 against a security company that had employed the gunman.

“I was unaware of it till I saw it on the news,” said Mr. Torres, adding that he cut ties with the firm last September.

The law firm, meanwhile, appears to have moved forward. In a March 15 post on its Facebook page, it announced that it was taking clients from the Florida high school shooting. “Please register with us,” the post said. “We’re here to help.”

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Tokyo in Texas: Distinctive Japanese Food Is Thriving in Austin


“Uchi is the starting point of Austin falling in love with everything Japanese,” said Otto Phan, the chef and owner of Kyoten Sushiko, an ambitious sushi restaurant in central Austin.

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The chefs Tyson Cole, left, and Aaron Franklin inside Loro, the Asian smokehouse they recently opened together in Austin. The local critic Matthew Odam calls the chefs “the two biggest names in Austin food.”

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Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

The food journalist Patricia Sharpe says Mr. Cole is responsible for rewiring Austin’s collective palate. “Had he been in Fort Worth, it might have happened there instead,” said Ms. Sharpe, who compared Japanese cuisine’s popularity in Austin to that of Mexican cooking in the 1970s, when she first started covering restaurants for Texas Monthly magazine.

It is impossible to tour Austin’s well-regarded sushi restaurants without running into chefs who have worked for or alongside Mr. Cole. Some, like Komé and Fukumoto Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya, offer a familiar menu of nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls. Newer places like Kyoten Sushiko and Otoko, in the South Congress Hotel, are tiny destinations for intricate, expensive omakase.

And now, some kitchens are taking the next step: integrating Japanese cooking with the traditional foods of Texas.

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Mr. Matsumoto, left, and Mr. Aikawa inside Kemuri Tatsu-ya. Mr. Aikawa said the menu answers the questions, “What if there was a Japanese guy in Texas 100 years ago? What would he be cooking at a roadhouse?”

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Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

Takuya Matsumoto and Tatsu Aikawa, chefs and business partners who opened Kemuri Tatsu-ya last year, are the leading lights of this new hybrid cuisine. Mr. Matsumoto, who is better known as Tako, calls the restaurant’s marriage of Texas smokehouse and Japanese bar food “a pretty good representation of us as Japanese Texans. It’s not that much different than Tex-Mex, really.”

Mr. Cole stepped up to the same task in early April, opening Loro, which he calls an Asian smokehouse. His collaborator is Aaron Franklin, the chef and owner of Franklin Barbecue, an Austin landmark where the hourslong lines that regularly form outside are nearly as famous as the brisket served inside.

While Mr. Cole’s restaurants in Austin, Houston and Dallas are based, albeit loosely, on the fundamentals of the Japanese sushi tradition, the menu at Loro is dominated by meat cooked in a hardwood smoker and paired with Asian-inspired sauces and sides. The space is designed in part to resemble a classic Texas dance hall. (Loro is the sixth restaurant operated by Hai Hospitality, Mr. Cole’s company, with a seventh, Uchi Denver, scheduled to open this summer.)

Mr. Cole said the inspiration for Loro flowed from his belief that the signature cuisines of Japan and Texas are naturally compatible. “Slicing the meat to order, serving it directly to the customer,” he said. “It’s so similar to what we do with sushi.”

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The dining room at Loro, which opened in April. The building was designed to resemble a Texas dance hall.

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Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

Mr. Franklin said, with a smile, that the restaurant will test Mr. Cole’s theory that Texas barbecue is, as Mr. Franklin put it, “the overcooked, red-meat version of sushi.”

Mr. Franklin, a 40-year-old former rock guitarist, is a partner in Loro as well as its resident barbecue expert. He led a recent tour of the space on South Lamar Boulevard, not far from the original Uchi, along with James Dumapit, 33, an Uchi and Uchiko veteran and Loro’s chef de cuisine.

“We’re definitely not going to stray too far from the central Texas tradition,” Mr. Dumapit said. “We’re not going to rub yellow curry over brisket, for example, because Aaron does brisket obviously very well.”

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Beef brisket is sliced in Loro’s kitchen. Mr. Franklin is revered for the smoked meat at Franklin Barbecue, an Austin landmark.

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Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

The credibility that Mr. Franklin provides Loro is fairly obvious. More complicated is the role that Mr. Cole, a white man born in Florida, has played in making Japanese food fashionable in this trend-conscious city.

Spurred by a passion for sushi that he acquired without leaving the state of Texas, Mr. Cole rose through the kitchens of Japanese-run restaurants in Austin, slowed but undeterred by the fact that he is not Japanese.

“You cannot make sushi because you are white,” Mr. Cole said he was told by the first boss he asked for permission to cut fish. A compromise was ultimately reached: Mr. Cole would roll sushi behind the kitchen’s closed door, where diners couldn’t see him.

After a year and a half, he was allowed to make sushi in front of customers. “But only at lunchtime,” he said. “My tip jar was full every day.”

Mr. Cole is quick to credit the Japanese chefs he has labored alongside in Austin for sharing their expertise. Foremost among them is Mr. Fuse, the chef and owner of Musashino Sushi Dokoro, where Mr. Cole worked for more than seven years, starting in 1993.

Mr. Fuse demanded that Mr. Cole learn to speak, read and write Japanese as part of his culinary training. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for him,” Mr. Cole said of his mentor.

Mr. Fuse is held in high esteem by Austin chefs. Both Takehiro Asazu, of Komé, and Kazu Fukumoto, of Fukumoto Sushi, apprenticed under Mr. Fuse, who is known around town as Smokey.

He is also known to be reclusive. Mr. Fuse did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. Mr. Aikawa, a former pupil, relayed the chef’s response: “It’s not my style. I’m a ninja.”

Musashino, which moved to the city’s West Campus neighborhood in 2016 after 22 years at its original location, is where Mr. Cole developed the convention-busting style that lives on at Uchi. Mr. Cole’s signature dishes — like smoked yellowtail and Asian pear, or maguro and goat cheese — are often built on nontraditional pairings.

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Kayo Asazu operates a number of Japanese restaurants in Austin with her husband, Takehiro Asazu, including Komé and Ni-Komé, a recently opened spinoff.

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Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

Kayo Asazu, 42, who owns Komé with her husband, Mr. Asazu, 44, says Mr. Cole made experimentation a distinguishing element of Japanese food in Austin.

“We didn’t see things like that in Japan,” she said. (The couple, who were born and raised in Japan, also operate two locations of the Japanese-style coffee shop Sa-Tén.)

Mr. Cole is not the only non-Japanese chef in Austin who has hitched his star to the country’s cuisine. Mr. Phan, of Kyoten Sushiko, was born in Houston to Vietnamese immigrants. Stacy Chen, who was born in Taiwan but moved to Austin as a child, modeled her new restaurant, Yoshi Ramen, on a shop her Taiwanese grandmother ran in Osaka.

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The dining room at Komé, which specializes in sushi and traditional Japanese cuisine.

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Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

Paul Qui, 37, a native of the Philippines, was executive chef of Uchiko when he won the ninth season of “Top Chef” in 2012, a star-making moment for both Mr. Qui and the Austin restaurant scene. He established his own aesthetic — pan-Asian, with a soft spot for sushi and Southeast Asian spices — with the food trucks and restaurants he opened in Austin and, more recently, Houston. (In 2016, Mr. Qui was arrested on charges of domestic violence, an incident that has cast a shadow over his empire and career; the case against him was recently dismissed, after the woman involved declined to serve as a witness.)

Amanda Turner, 31, grew up in Dallas, “watching anime, wishing to go to Japan.” She said she felt she had “hit the jackpot” when she landed a job at Uchi while she was still in culinary school.

Today, Ms. Turner is chef de cuisine at Juniper, an Italian restaurant, but she is looking forward to this summer, when she’ll begin a three-month apprenticeship at the acclaimed Tokyo restaurant Nihonryori RyuGin.

When she returns to Austin, Ms. Turner said, she hopes to open a Japanese restaurant of her own. “There’s a lot of precedent for white men to take possession of another culture’s food,” she said. “I’m a black woman. I’d like to change that.”

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Amanda Turner in the kitchen at Juniper, an Italian restaurant in Austin where she is chef de cuisine. Ms. Turner plans to open a Japanese restaurant in Austin after completing an apprenticeship in Tokyo.

Credit
Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

Mr. Aikawa and Mr. Matsumoto, of Kemuri Tatsu-ya, don’t face those kinds of questions around cultural appropriation and Japanese food. Both chefs were raised in Austin’s tight-knit Japanese-American community — Mr. Aikawa, 36, was born in Tokyo, and Mr. Matsumoto, 38, is the son of Japanese immigrants — and gravitated to restaurant work to supplement their income as hip-hop D.J.s.

Both are sushi enthusiasts — they spoke over a platter of plum-mackerel and toro-radish rolls at Musashino, where Mr. Aikawa got his start. But a stint working at Urasawa, the Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif., caused Mr. Aikawa to adjust his ambitions.

“I don’t want to run a restaurant where I’m charging, like, $1,000 a person,” he said.

Instead, he moved back to Austin to open Ramen Tatsu-ya with Mr. Matsumoto in 2012. They apply the discipline of the sushi bar to the broth-making in their ramen shop. It spawned a second location in 2015.

In recent years, the two chefs have become more comfortable with their natural instinct to blend the foods of Texas and Japan. On trips to Lockhart, a Texas barbecue mecca, Mr. Aikawa would bring his own rice and return with brisket to feed his staff.

When the ramen entrepreneurs started brainstorming for a restaurant they planned to open inside a former barbecue joint in East Austin, they asked themselves, Mr. Aikawa said, “What if there was a Japanese guy in Texas 100 years ago? What would he be cooking at a roadhouse?”

The answer is Kemuri Tatsu-ya. The restaurant and bar, decorated with Texas flags, taxidermy and vintage signs in Japanese, is as much of a mashup as the food and drink. The menu includes sake, sochu and local craft beer; smoked fish collar, eel and gochujang-rubbed pork ribs; two types of brisket ramen; and beef tongue and chorizo tamales made with sticky rice.

Kemuri’s success — its owners have leases on two new Austin restaurant spaces — suggests that the city’s diners are plenty ready for whatever Loro has in store.

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A mash-up of Texan and Japanese artifacts fill the walls in the bar at Kemuri Tatsu-ya, which is inside a former barbecue restaurant.

Credit
Valerie Chiang for The New York Times

One might expect Mr. Franklin, the barbecue maven, to be wary of taking liberties with smoked meat, considering the stringently traditional fare on which he built his reputation. The only sides on Franklin Barbecue’s menu (coleslaw, potato salad, pinto beans) are absent from Loro’s, supplanted by dishes like coconut-scented rice and papaya salad.

At Franklin Barbecue, he said, “there would be anarchy in the streets if we changed anything or tried to get fancy.”

But Mr. Franklin is also a product of Austin’s cross-cultural forces. He appears energized by the opportunity to recast his smoked meats with shishito salsa verde and house-made hoisin.

Though the meat at Loro is “super traditional, just salt and pepper,” Mr. Franklin added, there is freedom for his partners “to do what they do, making really rad sides and sauces. We just meet in the middle.”

Fukumoto Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya 514 Medina Street, 512-770-6880, fukumotoaustin.com

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya 2713 East 2nd Street, 512-893-5561, kemuri-tatsuya.com

Kome 5301 Airport Boulevard, 512-712-5700, kome-austin.com

Kyoten Sushiko 4600 Mueller Boulevard, Suite 1035, 512-888-7559, kyotensushiko.com

Loro 2115 South Lamar Boulevard, 512-916-4858, loroaustin.com

Musashino Sushi Dokoro 2905 San Gabriel Street, Suite 200, 512-795-8593, musashinosushi.com

Otoko 1603 South Congress Avenue, 512-920-6405, otokoaustin.com

Ramen Tatsu-Ya 8557 Research Boulevard, No. 126, and 1234 South Lamar Boulevard, 512-893-5561, ramen-tatsuya.com

Uchi 801 South Lamar Boulevard, 512-916-4808, uchiaustin.com

Uchiko 4200 North Lamar Boulevard, 512-916-4808, uchikoaustin.com

Yoshi Ramen 3320 Harmon Avenue, 512-243-6161, yoshiramenaustin.com

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UK weather: Man dies after being swept out to sea


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Media captionBBC Weather’s Simon King has the UK forecast

A man has died after being swept out to sea in Kent as heavy rain, winds and “unseasonably cold” weather hit parts of the UK.

Two other men were taken to hospital after being washed from East Pier in Ramsgate by a large wave, police said.

A yellow warning for heavy rain and strong winds remains in place for southern and eastern parts of England for the whole of Monday.

Forecasters said some areas could see more than a month’s rainfall in a day.

Some trains in the south-east of England were cancelled and roads have been blocked by fallen trees.

The RNLI, whose crews were called to help the three men at Royal Harbour in Ramsgate, called the conditions “atrocious”.

They said they rescued two men from the water but one was pronounced dead at the scene. The third man had been knocked over on the harbour wall by the wave and has been airlifted to hospital.

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Rebecca Douglas Photography

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Strong winds have caused large waves across coastal areas in the south east, including in Ramsgate in Kent

Also in Kent, firefighters rescued two adults and a baby from a car which was stuck in flood water in Sutton Valence, while another man in Herne Bay was trapped when a tree fell on his car.

Meanwhile, two flood warnings – which means flooding is expected – remain in place along the River Nene, east of Peterborough, and on the coast in North Shields in north-east England.

The Environment Agency issued 25 flood alerts – meaning flooding is possible – as of 19:00 BST on Monday, across England and has staff maintaining defences at at-risk spots.

By 07:00 BST, Kent had seen more than 20mm of rain in 24 hours – nearly half of the monthly average for this time of year – and gusts of 50mph have been recorded.

Trains and flights disrupted

Some services on Southeastern Railway were cancelled and others diverted because of flooding and a tree blocking the line at Charing in Kent.

Southern Rail faced disruption because of speed restrictions due to the weather and a fallen tree, while a tree hanging over the line between Woking and Weybridge also affected some South Western Railway services.

Several flights leaving London City Airport have been delayed. A spokesman for the airport said air traffic control restricted the number of flights that can take off and land because of the poor weather conditions.

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PA

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Strong winds have brought down trees across the south-east, including in Streatham, south London

UK Power Networks, which covers part of the south-east of England, said although there are outages it was a “normal day” with no widespread problems due to the weather.

The wet and windy weather is the result of an area of low pressure moving northwards overnight on Sunday.

It will feel “unseasonably cold” for the time of year, the BBC Weather Centre said, with maximum temperatures about 6 to 7C in these areas, but feeling much colder under the rain and wind.

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Getty Images

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Peter Siddle of Essex bowls against Hampshire in the county cricket match on Monday

High ground – like the Chilterns and the Cotswolds – could even see sleet and snow, although it will not settle.

County cricketers playing at the Ageas Bowl in Hampshire wore woolly hats to keep warm.

On social media, people shared photos and videos of flooded roads and large waves in coastal areas.

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It is in sharp contrast to earlier April weather – on 19 April, 29.1C was recorded at St James’s Park in central London, making it the hottest UK day in April since 1949.

The average maximum temperature for the UK in April is 11.9C.

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PA

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The UK saw its hottest April day for nearly 70 years earlier this month

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McDonald's says appetites remain strong


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Getty Images

McDonald’s Corp has reported strong sales in the first three months of the year, causing share prices to jump about 5% in morning trade in New York.

Profits increased 13% compared with the first quarter of 2017, hitting almost $1.38bn (£1bn).

International demand, including in the UK and Germany, helped to drive the growth, the fast food chain said.

The firm, which had faced tougher competition from new restaurant chains, has been working to win back customers.

It has introduced higher-end burger offerings, renovated restaurants, added more technology and switched to fresher ingredients as part of a turnaround plan that is showing signs of working.

Sales at McDonald’s restaurants opened at least 13 months increased more than 5% in the first three months of the year, and guest counts rose almost 1% – the fifth consecutive quarter of rising customer visits, the firm said.

International growth

In the US, sales at such stores increased 2.9% year-on-year during the quarter, though guest counts declined.

In established international markets, such as the UK and Canada, comparable sales rose 7.8%.

“[This] shows the power of the brand… globally the numbers were outstanding,” said Peter Saleh, an analyst with brokerage BTIG. “The results were very impressive, actually more impressive than we initially had anticipated.”

Total revenue was $5.1bn, down 9% from the same period last year, a decline the firm said was due to its move to franchise more restaurants, rather than operate them directly.

Operating costs also fell, however, and McDonald’s said it expected to add a net total of 600 restaurants this year around the globe.

Second wave of UK strikes

The UK is one of the strongest markets for McDonald’s, reporting 12 years of consistent quarterly growth.

But the firm could face negative publicity in the UK this week as a second wave of strikes hits some of its restaurants.

It concerns a dispute over pay and conditions involving members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

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Media captionMcDonalds faced its first UK strike last September

Just 11 workers at five restaurants – in Manchester, Cambridge, Crayford, south-east London, and two in Watford – will walk out on 1 May. They are demanding a minimum salary of £10 per hour, an end to lower “youth rates” of pay and greater flexibility in working hours.

While the number is small, the first ever McDonald’s UK strikes in September involved a similar number of workers and attracted widespread media attention.

A spokeswoman told the BBC: “Over the last three years, we have taken a number of additional steps to ensure McDonald’s UK remains a great place to work.

“Since September 2015, we have made three significant pay moves, and maintained the many benefits we offer, from the great training, and development opportunities, to payment of overnight premiums, which so many businesses have taken from their people in recent times.

She added: “As promised last year, everyone has now been offered a minimum guaranteed hours contract.

“Despite this, around 80% of our people have selected to stay on flexible contracts because they value the opportunity to fit their work around their other commitments.”

McDonald’s owns or franchises more than 37,000 restaurants in 120 countries around the world.

Brexit: Government defeat in Lords over terms of meaningful vote


Viscount Hailsham

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Viscount Hailsham said the primacy of Parliament must be asserted

Peers have voted to give Parliament a potentially decisive say over the outcome of Brexit talks.

An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill giving MPs the power to stop the UK from leaving without a deal or to make Theresa May return to negotiations was approved by 335 votes to 244.

Conservative peer Lord Hailsham said Parliament, not ministers, must “determine the future of the country”.

Ministers said this risked “weakening” the UK’s hand in negotiations.

But Labour said the vote marked a “hugely significant moment” in the fight to ensure Parliament has a “proper role” in the Brexit negotiations and a no-deal situation was avoided.

MPs have already defeated the government once on the issue of a meaningful vote and the issue will now return to the Commons for it to be decided once and for all.

The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019.

Both sides hope to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal agreement by this October in order to give the UK and European Parliaments enough time to debate and vote on it before the moment of departure.

The government, which does not have a majority in the Lords, has already lost a number of votes on its main Brexit legislation.

Viscount Hailsham’s amendment would allow Parliament to determine the government’s course of action if MPs rejected the deal or if the UK and EU were not able to reach an agreement of any kind.

It would also give Parliament control of the process if the legislation enshrining the withdrawal treaty promised by ministers was not approved by 29 March 2019.

‘Duty to country’

The peer, who as Douglas Hogg was an MP for many years, told the House of Lords the principle of parliamentary sovereignty was “fundamental to our liberties and must not be betrayed” when it came to Brexit.

“Whatever our party affiliation, our duty as parliamentarians is to our country and our conscience,” he said.

But former Conservative leader Lord Howard said the idea of effectively giving Parliament a veto over Brexit – which the public voted for in a 2016 referendum – was “fundamentally misconceived”.

“I’m afraid it reveals the appalling lengths to which the die-hard Remainers are prepared to go to achieve their aims,” he said.

During the debate, Tory spokesman Lord Callanan said Parliament’s vote would be binding and if it did reject the deal, the Article 50 process – determining the timetable for leaving – would “kick in” and the UK would leave.

Speaking afterwards, he said ministers would consider the implications of the vote.

“What this amendment would do is weaken the UK’s hand in our negotiations with the EU by giving Parliament unprecedented powers to instruct the government to do anything with regard to the negotiations – including trying to keep the UK in the EU indefinitely.”

In December, MPs voted in favour of a legal right to have their say on the withdrawal deal.

Last week Brexit Secretary David Davis said the motion to be considered by MPs on the final deal would be amendable – raising the prospect of MPs having greater influence over the process.

‘Hope Has Vanished’: Veteran Photojournalist Is Killed in Kabul


KABUL, Afghanistan — Growing up in a family genetically predisposed to blindness, Shah Marai developed a keen eye as a photographer.

For about 20 years, Mr. Marai, a veteran photojournalist, covered Afghanistan, his war-torn homeland, and its profound human suffering, but often with a soft touch. He rose to become the chief photographer in Kabul for Agence France-Presse, his income supporting a large family that included three blind brothers and two blind children.

On Monday, he was among a couple of dozen journalists in Kabul covering a rush-hour suicide bombing when a second attacker detonated his explosives amid reporters and first-responders. Altogether 25 people were killed, including Mr. Marai and eight other journalists.

Mr. Marai, who was 41, got his start as a photographer during the Taliban regime in the 1990s, when the practice was largely banned. He started first as a driver for A.F.P., and then slowly began to do photographic work, often in secret, when most news bureaus could not get a foothold in the country and relied on brave local residents like him.

After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, a new wave of optimism was clear in Mr. Marai’s work, as he covered elections and the rebuilding of a ravaged country.

Photo

Taliban fighters on a tank near Kabul in October 2001.

Credit
Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse

But following a brief period of relative calm, the war in Afghanistan has grown devastatingly violent in recent years. Mr. Marai’s work as news photographer often meant rushing to the site of the latest suicide bombing, and then following funerals and shattered families.

“There is no more hope,” he wrote in 2016, as he was arranging for his two brothers who were not blind to risk the migrant trail to Europe. “Life seems to be even more difficult than under the Taliban because of the insecurity.”

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