Monday Briefing: The U.N. and W.H.O.’s Dire Gaza Warnings

Street shops are being used as temporary shelters for displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.Credit…Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The U.N. and W.H.O. issue dire warnings for Gaza

U.N. officials warned yesterday that pressure was mounting near Gaza’s border with Egypt, where tens of thousands of Palestinians have tried to flee Israel’s military campaign.

“I expect public order to completely break down soon and an even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt,” António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, said, adding that there was “no effective protection of civilians in Gaza.”

Here’s the latest.

At an emergency session of the W.H.O.’s executive board, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director general, said that “Gaza’s health system is on its knees and collapsing.” Only 14 of the enclave’s 36 hospitals were even partly able to treat the sick and injured, he said.

Yesterday the Israeli military said that it had struck more than 250 “targets” in Gaza over the previous 24 hours. The intensified fighting followed a U.N. vote last week demanding a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, which failed because the U.S. vetoed it.

U.S.: The Biden administration declared an emergency to expedite arms shipments to the Middle East, bypassing Congress to sell 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel.

Israel: The New York Times unearthed new details about Israel’s policy of “buying quiet” by allowing Qatar to support Hamas.

Saudi Arabia’s exhibition center at the U.N. climate talks in Dubai.Credit…Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia blocks a new climate deal

Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading exporter of oil, has become the most forceful opponent of a new agreement to end fossil fuels at the U.N. climate talks in Dubai, which are scheduled to wrap up tomorrow.

Saudi negotiators have flatly opposed including in a deal any language that even mentions fossil fuels, and have objected to a provision, endorsed by at least 118 countries, aimed at tripling global renewable energy capacity by 2030. Saudi diplomats have been particularly skillful at blocking discussions and slowing the talks, according to a dozen people who have been inside closed-door negotiations.

If nations do agree in Dubai to phase out fossil fuels, or even to phase them down, it would be a historic moment. Past U.N. climate deals have shied away from mentioning the words “fossil fuels.” But any one of the 198 participating nations could thwart a deal.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Shohei Ohtani signs the biggest deal in baseball history

The most significant free-agent saga in Major League Baseball ended with Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese star pitcher and outfielder, choosing the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 10-year, $700 million contract surpassed the record-setting twelve-year, $426.5 million extension from Ohtani’s former Angels teammate Mike Trout — and even Lionel Messi’s four-year, $674 million contract with FC Barcelona in 2017.


Asia Pacific

Mazi Mobility has about 60 electric motorcycle taxis, known as boda-bodas, on the roads in Nairobi, Kenya.Credit…Brian Otieno for The New York Times
  • Two- and three-wheel electric vehicles are transitioning from fossil fuels to batteries faster than cars, and China has dominated the market.

  • China’s electric car factories can’t hire fast enough.

  • New Zealand’s iconic but troubled All Blacks lost to South Africa in the finals of the Rugby World Cup.

Around the World

The University of Pennsylvania’s president, Elizabeth Magill, during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.Credit…Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • The president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned after testimony in Congress about responses to antisemitism on campuses.

  • Iran-backed forces have attacked U.S. outposts from territory in Iraq that they control, raising fears of a wider regional conflict.

  • The children of the Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for her and read a speech that she prepared from prison.

  • Amazon has accused an international organization of conspiring to steal millions of dollars in online products through fraudulent refunds.


  • E.U. officials agreed to a new law to regulate artificial intelligence, one of the world’s first comprehensive attempts to limit the use of the technology.

  • Six teenagers were convicted in France for their role in the killing of a teacher by an Islamist extremist.

  • A Scottish cheesemaker claims to have made the world’s stinkiest cheese. Customers can’t get enough.

A Morning Read

Fifty years ago, eight Americans set off for Argentina to climb Aconcagua, one of the world’s mightiest mountains.

Two of them died under mysterious circumstances. Now, a camera belonging to one of the deceased climbers has emerged from a receding glacier near the summit. The film does not solve the mystery. It adds to it.

Lives lived: Gao Yaojie, a Chinese doctor who defied government pressure in exposing an AIDS epidemic that spread across rural China through reckless blood collection, has died. She was 95.


Signs for karaoke nightclubs in Hong Kong.Credit…Anthony Kwan for The New York Times

Hong Kong’s disappearing neon

Nights in Hong Kong these days feel as if the city is still in the pall of a plague, or a deep political malaise. Many of the tourists and resident foreigners are gone. More than 110,000 permanent residents departed last year, and the city’s population of those worth more than $30 million shrank by 23 percent.

Its brash flash is literally fading as well. The government has been cracking down on Hong Kong’s neon signs for environmental and safety reasons. Tens of thousands have been removed in the past decade, by one estimate. Hong Kong today can feel like a city of shadows and metaphor, where a subject as innocuous as neon takes on shades of meaning.

“Neon is a kind of city emblem, an embodiment of Hong Kong stories,” said Cardin Chan, who runs Tetra Neon Exchange, a group dedicated to conserving condemned signs. “But it’s not only neon that’s undergoing a transformation. It’s the whole city, right?”


Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Cook: The viral Marry Me Chicken, with its promise of romance for whoever cooks it, is among our most popular recipes of 2023.

Listen: This eight hour, 124-song playlist assembles our critics’ favorite songs and albums from 2023 in one place.

Enjoy: Here are 24 things from 2023 that reporters, editors and visual journalists on the Culture desk couldn’t stop thinking about.

Explore: “Wild World,” a map by Anton Thomas, a self-taught artist-cartographer, has no borders and 1,642 animal species.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Jonathan Wolfe will be here tomorrow. — Whet

P.S. In The Times’s weekly Australia Letter, Yan Zhuang bids farewell to the country before moving to the Seoul bureau.

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