Friday Briefing

Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, yesterday.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Hamas hinted at progress on a cease-fire

A Hamas leader said yesterday that the group was studying Israel’s latest cease-fire proposal with a “positive spirit,” raising hopes of progress in the stalled efforts for a truce.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political wing, said that a delegation would travel to Cairo to discuss the cease-fire. The current deal would include a weekslong truce and the release of hostages held by Hamas and of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. The proposal would also allow civilians to return to northern Gaza and would enable increased delivery of aid to the territory.

The complex cease-fire negotiations have dragged on for months. This week, Israel softened some of its positions, saying that it would allow Palestinians to return north en masse and would lower the number of hostages accepted for the cease-fire to 33, from 40.

But Israel’s insistence on a ground invasion of Rafah, a city where around a million Palestinians are sheltering in the southern Gaza Strip, remains a major sticking point. “If the enemy carries out the Rafah operation, negotiations will stop,” a Hamas spokesman said.

Latest updates:

  • Turkey: The country said that it has halted all trade with Israel until uninterrupted humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza.

  • Reconstruction: A U.N. report said that rebuilding all of the homes destroyed by Israel’s military offensive in Gaza could take 80 years.

Ukrainian soldiers during a simulated chemical attack, in the Donetsk region last year.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

U.S. accused Russia of using chemical weapons

The U.S. accused Russia of violating a global ban on chemical weapons by using them against Ukrainian troops.

The State Department said in a statement that Russia had used chloropicrin, a “choking agent” widely used during World War I, as well as tear gas. Both of them are prohibited during warfare under the Chemical Weapons Convention, an arms control treaty ratified by more than 150 countries, including Russia.

Attacking with the chemicals was “not an isolated incident,” and they were probably used to drive Ukrainian forces out of fortified positions, the State Department said.

The Ukrainian authorities have reported about 1,400 cases of suspected chemical weapons use by Russia since the full-scale invasion began in 2022. The officials said that the rate has accelerated as Moscow has pressed ahead with attacks along the front lines.

A protest near Parliament in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.Credit…David Mdzinarishvili/EPA, via Shutterstock

Protests swelled in Georgia over ‘foreign interests’ bill

Security forces clashed with protesters in Georgia’s capital after Parliament advanced legislation that has sparked weeks of demonstrations.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of Tbilisi ever since the governing Georgian Dream party pushed the bill through Parliament early last month. Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said yesterday that security forces had used water cannons and tear gas when the protesters turned “violent.”

The draft law would require nongovernmental groups and media outlets that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from foreign sources to register with the government and to provide annual financial statements or face hefty fines. The pro-Western opposition believes that the law could be used to crack down on dissent.


Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
  • Trump trial: A taped conversation of Donald Trump discussing a hush money payment with Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, was played in court yesterday.

  • Brazil: Flooding after four days of rain left at least 29 people dead and 60 missing in the south of the country.

  • Scotland: John Swinney, the former leader of the Scottish National Party, emerged as the likely successor of Humza Yousaf, who resigned as first minister on Monday.

  • Politics: Defending U.S. immigration, President Biden said that Japan and India were struggling economically “because they’re xenophobic.”

  • Abu Ghraib: A federal jury said it was unable to reach a verdict in a lawsuit filed by three Iraqi men who said they were tortured at the notorious U.S. prison.

  • Investigation: U.S. soldiers who were exposed to thousands of blasts from firing weapons like mortars say that they have debilitating symptoms of brain injury — but no diagnosis.

  • The Amazon: New companies are trying to make reforestation more profitable than cattle ranching.

U.S. Campus Protests

  • Biden: The president condemned the violence and antisemitism that have erupted at some universities, saying that Americans have “the right to protest but not a right to cause chaos.”

  • Exploiting divisions: Russia, China and Iran have seized on the protests to stoke tensions within the U.S.

  • Columbia University: How protesters took control of one building on campus.

Week in Culture

Credit…Gem Hale for The New York Times
  • Skate: Black roller skaters have brought styles from around the U.S. to Atlanta.

  • Songs, defined: A series of high-profile lawsuits involving stars like Led Zeppelin and Pharrell Williams have raised the question: What exactly is a song, in the eyes of the law?

  • Hollywood embraces sex: After a period of relative chastity, big movies are bringing back eroticism.


Credit…Mickalene Thomas for The New York Times

Less than two years ago, Brittney Griner was starting her nine-year sentence in a penal colony in Russia, sewing uniforms for the Russian military and subsisting on spoiled food. She had never been farther from the sport that made her famous, rarely got to hear from her wife, Cherelle, and she had no idea when — or if — she would be coming home.

My colleague J Wortham spoke with Griner for The New York Times Magazine. “I will never forget any of it,” said Griner, whose memoir “Coming Home,” will be published on May 7.


  • A portrait fit for a king: Few famous Britons, it seems, can resist the brush of Jonathan Yeo. He has painted Tony Blair, David Cameron and now King Charles III.

  • The muse of the games: Did you know they used to award Olympic medals for art? The tradition died years ago, and the winning artworks are largely forgotten.

  • Dr. Orangutan? A primate chewed up a medicinal plant and dabbed it on a wound, the first known observation of a wild animal using a plant for treatment.


Intensity and concentration: Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

Defeated and deflated: Emma Hayes and Chelsea’s quadruple attempt unravels in 32 days.

Miami track breakdown: Bringing South Beach vibes to Hard Rock Stadium.


Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

A challenge for theater leaders in Shakespeare’s hometown

Tourists flock to Stratford-upon-Avon, the English town famous as the home of William Shakespeare, expecting classical period-dress productions of his works. Stratford is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, which brings Shakespeare’s work to a contemporary audience with a diverse and forward-thinking repertoire.

Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey, the troupe’s new artistic directors, are trying to embrace the classical and the modern, as they embark on their first season in charge.


Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich.

Cook: This sheet-pan meal riffs on an Italian sub.

Read: Honor Levy’s “My First Book” is very online, and may have come too soon, our critic writes.

Watch: “I Saw the TV Glow” is an outstanding not-quite-horror film.

Listen: Our music critic made a playlist entirely about coffee.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s all for this week. Have a wonderful weekend, and goodbye for now. My colleague Natasha Frost will return on Monday. — Dan

P.S. Lynsey Chutel, who writes our Spotlight on Africa series, is moving to our London newsroom. Congratulations, Lynsey!

You can reach Dan and the team at [email protected].

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