The London Sinfonietta, a Contemporary Music Trailblazer, Turns 50

LONDON — The London Sinfonietta doesn’t do nostalgia: As a group largely devoted to music so new that it arrives with the ink still wet, its business is the present, not the past. But that can be a problem when you’ve been around for half a century and want to celebrate. Do you look fondly back, or resolutely forward?

The Sinfonietta is doing both as it rolls out a special season for its 50th anniversary this year. The programs take in music that now counts as “classic,” by composers the ensemble has embraced across the decades: Berio, Henze, Ligeti, Stockhausen. But there are also premieres from figures of our own time: Hans Abrahamsen, Tansy Davies, Philip Venables. And the focus is a concert at the Royal Festival Hall on Jan. 24, 50 years from the day of the Sinfonietta’s debut.

According to Nicholas Snowman, a Sinfonietta co-founder, that concert “drew massive interest, because what we offered was unique.”

“These days, almost everybody plays contemporary music to some extent,” Mr. Snowman said. “But 1968 was a different world, where new work got shunted into the sidings.” The pieces that were performed, he said, were often “done badly, without enough preparation.”

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Trump’s Solar Tariffs Are Clouding the Industry’s Future

ZEBULON, N.C. — At this century-old farm just outside Durham, symmetrical rows of shining blue solar panels have replaced the soybeans and tobacco that Tommy Vinson and his family used to grow here. It is one of many solar farms that have sprung up around North Carolina, transforming a state long battered by global offshoring into the second-largest generator of solar electricity after California.

“It’s still reaping a very good harvest,” said April Vinson, who is married to Tommy. “It’s just not a traditional kind of farm.”

Across North Carolina, textile factories and tobacco farms have disappeared, giving way to fields of solar panels.

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Americans Were Among 22 Killed in Kabul Hotel Attack, U.S. Says

KABUL, Afghanistan — The State Department said on Tuesday that United States citizens were among the victims of the Taliban attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, over the weekend, which killed 22 people.

American officials said they were not yet able to publicly identify the citizens who were killed or injured, but Afghan officials said it appeared that at least three people with American citizenship — all of them either dual citizens or with family roots in Afghanistan — had lost their lives.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry identified one of the dead as Abdullah Waheed Poyan, an Afghan diplomat. Relatives said he had lived in the United States for at least a decade and held a United States passport.

“The attack on the hotel, once again, shows the depravity of terrorists who seek to sow chaos,” said Heather Nauert, the spokeswoman for the State Department. “Sadly, we can confirm that Americans are among the victims.”

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Trump’s Trade Threats Put China’s Leader on the Spot

BEIJING — For the better part of two decades, China’s leaders have made the most of the global trade rules set by the United States and others, seizing on opportunities to bolster their nation’s economic rise while finessing American complaints that they were not always playing fair.

Now, for the first time, China faces an American president who is embracing protectionist measures, and that has presented its leader, Xi Jinping, with an extraordinary challenge: Even as he has elevated his status as the country’s “helmsman,” with a new mandate to rule indefinitely, the United States is moving to treat China more seriously as a strategic rival and to recast an economic relationship that has long bound the two countries.

The punitive actions unveiled by President Trump on Thursday — tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese goods, as well as new restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States — put Mr. Xi on the spot, forcing him to consider retaliatory action.

On Friday, China said it was proposing additional tariffs on 128 American products valued at $3 billion even as it called on Washington to resolve the dispute through negotiations to “avoid damage to the broader picture of Chinese-U.S. cooperation.”

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Four Fans Barred From Blackhawks’ Home Games for Racist Remarks

CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks barred four fans from their home games for directing racist taunts toward Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly.

The Blackhawks also apologized to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals.

“Racist comments and other inappropriate behavior are not tolerated by the Chicago Blackhawks,” team spokesman Adam Rogowin said Monday in an email.

Smith-Pelly was sitting in the penalty box in the third period of Saturday night’s 7-1 loss to Chicago when the fans yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” toward the winger, who is black. An off-ice official sitting next to Smith-Pelly notified United Center security, and the fans were promptly ejected.

“Totally unacceptable in our game, in any sport and in society today,” Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville said after the morning skate ahead of Monday night’s home game against the Los Angeles Kings.

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Review: ‘In the Land of Pomegranates’ Asks if Mideast Peace Is Possible

“This inhuman world has to become more humane. But how?”

A version of that quote, attributed to the playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt, opens “In the Land of Pomegranates,” and its question hangs over each scene. Everyone interviewed in this sobering documentary — Israeli or Palestinian — agrees that something must be done to stop the bloodshed in their land. But even talking about solutions proves problematic.

The film centers on “Vacation From War,” a retreat in Germany that brings together young Israelis and Palestinians. They live and travel together for a few weeks, often gathering for discussion and debate in the hope of fostering tolerance.

Intercut with excerpts from their meetings is bloody footage of violent encounters in Israel and the occupied territories and conversations with a handful of residents, including a bus passenger who was severely injured in a suicide bombing attack and a Palestinian mother whose ailing child is being treated by an Israeli physician.

Like several recent films on Israel, including “Wrestling Jerusalem” and “Rabin in His Own Words,” “In the Land of Pomegranates” holds no illusions about a quick end to the conflicts there. Hava Kohav Beller, the director, avoids false optimism and feel-good moments. Though the young people she interviews at least attempt to speak with one other, their rage runs deep, and few find common ground with those who hold opposing views.

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SpaceX’s Big Rocket, the Falcon Heavy, Finally Reaches the Launchpad

On July 16, 1969, a towering Saturn 5 rocket sat on Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At 9:32 a.m., the five enormous F-1 engines of its first stage ignited, expelling orange flame, dark smoke and 7.5 million pounds of thrust to lift the three astronauts of Apollo 11 into space. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon four days later.

Today, at that same launchpad, technicians working for SpaceX, Elon Musk’s upstart rocket company, are preparing for the maiden flight of what is by most measures the world’s most powerful rocket since the Saturn 5. The Falcon Heavy will be able to carry more than 140,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit, or more than twice as much as current competing rockets.

Aboard the demonstration flight, which may take off in the weeks ahead (sign up for The Times Space Calendar to be notified of the date), will be a whimsical, cross-promotional payload for Mr. Musk — a cherry red Roadster built by his other business, the electric carmaker Tesla. The car would travel around the sun in endless ellipses that extended as far out as Mars’ orbit.

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IWC Schaffhausen Celebrates 150 Years

GENEVA — In 1868, a 27-year-old American engineer named Florentine Ariosto Jones arrived in Schaffhausen, a Rhine River town in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, intent on teaching the Swiss a thing or two about watchmaking.

Though Mr. Jones returned to the United States seven years later, it is a testament to his efforts that the company he founded turns 150 this year. It is also the ultimate success of his revolutionary vision, which helped transform what had been one of Switzerland’s home-based industries into the industrial powerhouse it is today.

The brand, now called IWC Schaffhausen and owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont, is marking the milestone with a global series of events, including an exhibition of contemporary and historic timepieces that will travel the world from May through November. The festivities are to begin this week at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva. The actor Bradley Cooper, IWC’s newest celebrity ambassador, is to join the singers Aloe Blacc and Ronan Keating there as well as Cate Blanchett and James Marsden, both longtime ambassadors, at a gala dinner to celebrate Mr. Jones’s forward-thinking ethos.

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The Sting of Spring

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