Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

An Israeli government effort to weaken the country’s judiciary, a move that critics call a threat to the nation’s democratic foundations, is drawing protest from American Jewish leaders and organizations, including ones that generally avoid commenting on internal Israeli politics. Democrats and progressives have so far been more willing to speak out than conservatives.

The concerns lie not just with the substance of the proposal, but also its potential impact on U.S.-Israel relations at a time when polls have shown that, as Israel’s politics lurch to the right, the country is losing support among younger Americans. The response increases public pressure on President Biden, who has called the defense of democracy abroad a top priority.

The proposal would allow Israel’s Parliament to overrule Supreme Court decisions by a one-vote majority and also effectively give the government the power to appoint judges. The Biden administration has not been openly critical of the plan and instead has broadly encouraged democratic values and consensus.

Both sides: To supporters of Israel’s government, the changes are a way to curb the influence of unelected judges. Critics say the overhaul would remove one of the few checks on government overreach and insulate Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, from multiple corruption charges.

Widespread missile attacks and blasts were reported across Ukraine early this morning, including in Odesa and Kharkiv, with air raid sirens sounding throughout the country in predawn hours. Local officials said energy infrastructure and residential buildings were hit, and explosions in the northeastern city of Kharkiv caused power outages.

Air raid alarms rang out in more than a dozen regions across the country, including in the capital, Kyiv, where the regional military administration said on its Telegram channel that air defense systems were working. There were no casualties in the Odesa region, and many of the missiles were intercepted, according to Maksym Marchenko, Odesa’s military governor.

A day earlier, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner mercenary group, said that his forces had taken the eastern part of the city of Bakhmut. Seizing the rest would allow Russia to accelerate its offensive across more open terrain, he said. But U.S. intelligence officials suggest that the Kremlin’s forces are too depleted by a year of war to wage such a campaign.

Next steps: E.U. defense ministers met yesterday to discuss the need to ramp up the production of artillery ammunition to send to Ukraine, though no decisions were made. Until an increase gets underway, the E.U. leadership has proposed spending more than $1 billion to reimburse member nations for ammunition sent from their own stocks.


The Pentagon is blocking the Biden administration from sharing with the International Criminal Court in The Hague evidence gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian atrocities in Ukraine, according to current and former officials briefed on the matter.

U.S. military leaders oppose such help because they fear setting a precedent that might help pave the way for the court to prosecute Americans. The rest of the administration favors giving the evidence to the court, the officials said. President Biden has yet to resolve the impasse, they added.

The evidence is said to include details relevant to an investigation that the chief prosecutor of the court, Karim Khan, began after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The information reportedly includes material about decisions by Russian officials to deliberately target civilian infrastructure and to abduct thousands of Ukrainian children from occupied territory.

Background: The I.C.C. was created two decades ago as a standing venue to investigate war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity under a 1998 treaty called the Rome Statute. Many democracies joined the court, but the U.S. has long kept its distance.


For The Times Magazine, Irina Aleksander goes inside the “blood sport” of Oscars campaigns — war rooms, negative narratives, eight-figure budgets — to reveal how the quest for awards-season glory got so cutthroat. Above, a still from “To Leslie,” starring Andrea Riseborough.

Georgina Beyer, who is widely believed to have been the world’s first openly transgender member of a parliament, fought for the rights of sex workers and L.G.B.T.Q. and Maori people in New Zealand. She died at 65.

Attending soccer games in Britain as a woman: Female fans describe a humiliating, scary, and traumatizing experience.

The Eternal Derby: The politically charged story of Red Star versus Partizan takes place in Belgrade, which is not your average soccer city.

Manchester United’s worst defeats: United’s loss to Liverpool on Sunday was among its most humbling defeats in recent memory, but how does it compare to other dismal games? We did some digging.

A new book, “Romaine Wasn’t Built in a Day,” by Judith Tschann, delves into the origins of food terms and what they tell us about how people have eaten across history.

“Barbecue” comes from barbacoa, a word in the Arawakan language of the Caribbean for a wooden frame used for sleeping and for drying food, Tschann writes. And “taco” comes from a Mexican Spanish term for explosives used in silver mining — they had a similar shape to the miners’ lunches.

Other food terms are connected to places: “Mocha” comes from Mukha, a port city in Yemen that handled coffee shipments in the 18th century. Sometimes the inverse is true, as with “Chicago,” based on the Indigenous Miami-Illinois word for the wild leeks that grew in the area.

The Times’s Kim Severson offers more tidbits from the book — including why you should avoid talking about the history of soufflé at a dinner party.

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