Humanitarian aid from the U.N. is loaded onto a military aircraft in Dubai yesterday.Credit…Giuseppe Cacace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The U.N. and Egypt lay the groundwork for Gaza aid
The U.N. has made progress on an agreement that lays the groundwork for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Egypt, two officials said, although the details of how and when the desperately needed food and medicine would be delivered were not immediately disclosed.
Under the agreement, international observers would inspect aid trucks before they enter Gaza to satisfy a demand by Israel, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Previous reports of imminent agreements to ease the backup at Gaza’s border with Egypt — both for people and aid — have failed to materialize. Egypt said it would allow 20 aid trucks into the enclave, according to President Biden, but the timing is unclear. Hopes are high that the aid trucks will be able to cross into Gaza today, according to E.U. officials.
The toll: Gaza health officials said at a news conference that at least 3,785 people had been killed in the enclave since Oct. 7. The figures are believed to include casualties from the hospital explosion in Gaza City, for which Hamas and Israel blame each other. U.S. intelligence agencies estimate the blast killed between 100 and 300 people, but cautioned that their assessments could change.
Gazans are struggling to communicate with the outside world and each other, as Israeli airstrikes have badly damaged communications and power infrastructure.
Mobilization: Satellite imagery shows that hundreds of Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have gathered about four miles north of the Erez border crossing into northern Gaza, in preparation for a potential ground invasion. The crossing has been closed since Hamas fighters seized it on Oct. 7.
U.S. support: The U.S. Senate yesterday unanimously pledged to furnish Israel with security, diplomatic and intelligence assistance. President Biden is expected to request $100 billion for Israel, Ukraine and other crises from Congress by today.
China’s military is adding more nuclear warheads
China is continuing to build up its strategic nuclear arsenal and has most likely amassed 500 nuclear warheads as of May, the Pentagon said in a new report, an increase of about 100 over last year’s estimate. It remains on track to have more than 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, most of them for weapons capable of striking the continental U.S.
The most eye-catching evidence of China’s nuclear buildup in recent years has been three clusters of missile silos constructed last year in the deserts of northern China. At least some intercontinental ballistic missiles had been installed in them, the report said.
The U.S. has also recorded more “coercive and risky” air intercepts by the Chinese military in the Asia-Pacific region over the past two years than in the previous decade, including one that came as close as 10 feet to an American military plane, the Defense Department said in its annual report to Congress on China’s military might.
Ukraine’s economy rises as it adapts to war
There are signs that Ukraine’s economy is recovering, albeit modestly.
Though its economic output is still considerably smaller than before the war — the economy shrank by one-third after Russia’s full-scale invasion last year — it will grow by an estimated 3.5 percent this year, the World Bank predicts. The expansion is driven by a pickup in domestic spending and is underpinned by a steady flow of foreign financial aid.
Economists say it will take many years for Ukraine’s economy to return to prewar levels, and forecasts in a time of fierce fighting are bound to be uncertain. Still, local analysts and businesspeople say, a sense of resilience and relative stability has taken hold after nearly 20 months of war.
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A woman had never been a hip-hop star, an actress, a producer and the face of mainstream America all at once. Then Queen Latifah made it look almost easy.
Some of rap’s most innovative artists are women. Black actresses onscreen (Viola Davis, Zendaya) represent queer love and desire. Cover-girl aesthetics are embodied by curvy Black artists and models in Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty fashion line.
We see this because we live in a world that Latifah helped make.
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ARTS AND IDEAS
South Korea’s protests are a cultural touchstone
It’s almost a national pastime for South Koreans to take grievances to the streets.
But recent protests in Seoul reveal a country increasingly polarized over its leader. Churchgoers and elderly people on the right shouting, “Hooray for President Yoon Suk Yeol!” — and singing along to pop standards catering to old people, like “What’s Wrong With My Age?” — will be followed days later by young progressives chanting, “Out with Yoon Suk Yeol!”
Such rallies were born during South Korea’s difficult march toward democracy in the 1980s when massive crowds, often armed with rocks, firebombs and even stolen rifles, clashed with riot police officers, tanks and paratroopers. These days, demonstrations are usually part rock concert, part revival meeting, but when they grow in size and intensity, they can herald a political storm ahead.
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That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin
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