Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Instances

The worst fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in seven years intensified last night, killing at least 30 Palestinians, including 10 children, and three Israelis. Hundreds more civilians were wounded on both sides, according to local officials.

Israeli air strikes targeted Hamas offices in residential buildings in Gaza City, while Gaza militants fired back on Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub. In the Arab quarters of Israel, the Palestinian citizens of Israel voiced their anger over the murders and longstanding complaints about discrimination within Israel. See footage of the Gaza scene.

The Palestinian militants and the Israeli military are unequally coordinated – the former are armed with raw missiles, the latter with fighter jets and a sophisticated anti-missile defense system, the Iron Dome. Israeli air strikes target strategic targets in the densely populated Gaza Strip, killing civilians, even if Israel insists that measures be taken to avoid them, while Hamas rockets target civilian population centers but often miss the mark.

Analysis: Leaders on both sides have taken up the conflict to advance their own interests. “It is the story of every previous war between Israel and Hamas,” said Ghassan Khatib, a political expert in the occupied West Bank. Both governments “come out victorious and the Gaza public comes out losers.”

Biden administration: The US president had hoped to shift America’s foreign policy focus away from the Middle East. But this conflict can force him to get involved.

First person: Desperate voices, howling ambulance sirens, blood soaked clothing: a Palestinian community organizer describes what life is like for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Opinion: A dangerously naïve consensus had emerged in Israel in recent years, suggesting that the Palestinians have basically resigned themselves to living under permanent Israeli control, writes Thomas Friedman.

Even if the virus declines in rich countries with robust vaccination campaigns, it threatens to flood Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia and Thailand, which so far had largely staved off it.

Desperation is spreading in India as deaths and healthcare breakdowns that began in large cities a few weeks ago rapidly move to rural areas with fewer resources. Dozens of bodies washed up on the banks of the Indian Ganges along the border between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two states where the virus is raging.

Taken together, the contradicting regional trends are leveling the global daily incidence on an “unacceptably high plateau” that continues to put the world at risk, said the WHO Director General on Monday.

By the numbers: An average of 772,000 new cases are reported worldwide every day, almost half of them in India, where the virus variant B.1.617 has spread.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Pharmaceutical company Novavax announced that its highly protective vaccine will not be approved in the US or UK until July and will not reach peak production until the end of the year.

  • Some American expatriates have chosen to travel to the United States to get vaccinated. Here is an account.

China’s most recent once a decade census showed that the country’s population is growing at the slowest rate in decades. According to the latest census, only 12 million babies were born in a nation of 1.41 billion last year – the fewest since 1961 and a new sign of an impending demographic crisis.

China’s economy has long relied on a huge population and a growing pool of young workers. However, economic growth will be difficult to sustain if the labor pool continues to shrink. Births have now declined for four consecutive years.

Many of China’s demographic problems can be traced back to the one-child policy introduced in Beijing in 1980, which aims to dampen population growth and enforce it with sometimes draconian measures. The census results could force Xi Jinping, the country’s leader, to anticipate the flaws in the ruling Communist Party’s family planning policies.

Key factors: The cost of raising children and marrying delays for educated women are among other reasons why people in China have fewer children. The divorce rate has also risen steadily since 2003.

Analysis: “China faces a unique demographic challenge that is the most urgent and severe in the world,” said a research professor of applied economics at Peking University. “This is a long-term time bomb.”

Despite fierce opposition from prominent writers, artists, academics and heritage groups, one of Dublin’s most popular landmarks, Joycean, is becoming a hostel that hopefully hopes it can be preserved as a cultural space.

“It’s like selling the family jewels – like really giving them away,” said John McCourt, who led the campaign to preserve the 18th century townhouse, the site of the last short story in Joyce’s Dubliners collection.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp blurred the lines between fine arts and applied arts, but died early without the recognition she deserved. A major new exhibition in Basel, Switzerland is set to fix that, writes Catherine Hickley, a reporter for The Times. This is an edited excerpt.

In 1918, three daring marionettes in a production of “King Stag” were received with skepticism by their Zurich theater. Art circles around the world, however, saw them differently: in Europe they were presented and discussed in avant-garde magazines; Across the Atlantic, Vanity Fair found in 1922 that these “revolutionary” dolls “caused a real sensation”.

The puppets were made by Sophie Taeuber-Arp, a Swiss artist with a breathtaking reach in many media: costume, sculpture, interior and furniture design, dance, painting – and of course dolls.

Her ability to blur the lines between fine arts and applied arts is one of the reasons it took her so long to get a major retrospective that would cement her international reputation as a pioneer of abstraction, said Anne Umland, curator at Museum of Modern Art in New York. “It’s hard to pigeonhole,” Umland said.

The comprehensive exhibition “Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction” opened in March at the Kunstmuseum Basel and runs until June 20. It will be relocated to Tate Modern in London from July 15 and to MoMA from November 21.

It is Eid al-Fitr tonight, the end of Ramadan and a celebration of the breaking of the fast. Here you can find recipes to celebrate, including namoura, a Lebanese cake soaked in syrup.

Stacey Abrams, the Georgian politician and novelist, describes the book she would recommend to the president as “groundbreaking work on the nature of power”.

Lambrusco, the gently sparkling and often inexpensive wine, is the tip of choice in Emilia-Romagna. It’s great in a salty spritz.

Here’s today’s mini crossword and a clue: walk like a peacock (five letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all of our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. I wish you a peaceful Wednesday. – Natasha

PS Valerie Hopkins, who has covered Central and Eastern Europe, will join our Moscow office.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the feud between Apple and Facebook.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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