Israel’s allies push it to scale back its war
Lloyd Austin, the U.S. defense secretary, will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, this week. U.S. officials are pushing Israel to transition to a more focused phase in the country’s war on Gaza, involving more precise, intelligence-driven missions, and the foreign secretaries of Britain and Germany have issued a joint call for a “sustainable” cease-fire.
Ten weeks after Hamas’s initial attack on Israel, the death toll in the Gaza Strip has climbed to nearly 20,000, according to local health officials, and international rights groups warn that the humanitarian crisis there is spiraling even further. The roughly 100 individuals who have been kidnapped by Hamas and other armed groups are also in peril.
That reality was evident last week, when Israeli forces mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages. The deaths have drawn anguish in Israel and raised new questions about how Netanyahu’s government is prosecuting the war. Relatives of hostages have taken to the streets to demand a cease-fire so that their loved ones can return home, and thousands have protested at weekly rallies.
In other news from the war:
An overlooked crisis in Congo
More than six million people have been displaced by war in eastern Congo, where a conflict has dragged on for nearly three decades, stoking a vast humanitarian crisis that by some estimates has claimed over six million lives.
It is now lurching into a volatile new phase, with over 100 armed groups and several national armies vying for supremacy, complicated by the interference of foreign powers eyeing the region’s vast reserves of gold, oil and minerals. Corruption, massacres and rape are common.
Though millions of people are suffering, aid groups struggle to draw attention to the conflict. “There’s a sense of fatalism about Congo,” Cynthia Jones, the World Food Program head in the region, said. “People seem to think, ‘That’s just the way it is.’”
Putin’s enrichment scheme
Companies that want to leave Russia do so on terms set by President Vladimir Putin — in ways that benefit his government, his elites and his war on Ukraine.
Western companies that have left Russia have declared more than $103 billion in losses since the start of the war, according to a Times analysis of financial reports, and their exits have been subject to ever-increasing taxes, generating at least $1.25 billion in the past year for Russia’s war chest.
News analysis: How Hungary steamrollered Europe’s plan to throw Ukraine a financial lifeline worth $52 billion.
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Around the World
There is no Christmas lunch like a Korean American Christmas church lunch, where hundreds of people gather in one room for elaborate banquet dishes; fancy braises; barbecued favorites; party noodles; and all manner of soups and stews.
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Jeff Koons killed her review
Remy Golan, a professor of art history, had submitted an essay on Jeff Koons’s monumental sculpture “Bouquet of Tulips,” including an interview with the artist, to Brooklyn Rail, a New York City arts journal. The editor was pleased — until the Koons studio read a copy of the unpublished essay and ordered it axed, citing “Jeff’s concerns.”
Experts in journalism say that the essay should not have been read by its subject before being published, with one describing the turn of events as “chilling.” Yet the case is one of several in which writers have accused a publication of yielding to pressure from a subject or killing a critical story.