Scenes from the Russian Embassy in Washington
Every few weeks, a light show featuring the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag — and sometimes a profanity in Ukrainian about Russian President Vladimir Putin — is projected onto the white facade of the Russian Embassy in Washington. Russia retaliated with a big spotlight, umbrellas to block the projections and illuminations of its own, like two white giants Z, a Russian nationalist symbol of the war effort.
It’s the strange new normal around the main Russian diplomatic outpost in the United States, a scene of protests, spy games and general strangeness amid the most hostile relations between the United States and the Russia for decades. Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov called the embassy complex, where in recent years as many as 1,2000 Russians have worked, a “besieged fortress”.
Embassy staff may be among the least welcome residents of Washington, but Biden administration officials are happy to be there to maintain diplomatic relations, they say. Expelling the Russians entirely would mean the end of the American diplomatic presence in Moscow, which, among other things, works to help American citizens imprisoned in Russia.
In Russia: The country is incubating a new cottage industry of digital surveillance tools to track its citizens and suppress domestic opposition to war in Ukraine. Some of the companies are trying to expand their business overseas, which increases the risk that the technologies will not stay in Russia.
In Ukraine: People who live near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have become largely content with its dangers, despite warnings that the complex is spot on.
Israel strikes at a refugee camp in the West Bank
Yesterday Israel launched its most intense airstrikes on the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades and sent hundreds of ground troops into the overcrowded Jenin refugee camp, saying it was trying to stamp out armed militants. At least eight Palestinians were killed, according to the Palestinian authorities, and local media reported that hundreds or thousands of people had fled the camp.
Israeli military officials said a drone attack hit a joint operations center used by militants from a group known as the Jenin Brigade in the refugee camp, and that Israeli forces also targeted a weapons production site and a storage place for explosive devices. The army said it located and confiscated weapons, explosives and an improvised rocket launcher.
Gunshots rang out in the camp as Israeli troops and armored vehicles entered. Residents feared a large-scale Israeli army incursion but did not expect something so violent, said Muhammad Sbaghi, a committee member who helps administer the camp. “The occupation army is targeting us vindictively,” he said. “People are terrified,” he added.
Context: The current Israeli government is the most right-wing in the country’s history, with ultra-nationalist ministers who oppose any talks with Palestinian leaders, and it has promised a tougher response to Palestinian violence. The Palestinian Authority has virtually abandoned all efforts to control militancy in the northern West Bank, leaving residents helplessly caught in the middle.
Trouble subsides in France
Protests in France have eased after nearly a week of violence that began after police fatally shot Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old French citizen of North African descent, during a traffic stop last Tuesday . In response to the unrest, authorities deployed 45,000 police and gendarmes for several consecutive nights to try to bring the situation under control.
Yesterday morning, the Interior Ministry said that nearly 160 people had been arrested and three law enforcement officers injured overnight. This represented an easing of tensions from previous days, when as many as 1,300 people were arrested.
Yet French mayors have held peaceful rallies across the country to protest violent attacks on elected officials. And the issues underlying the outburst of anger seemed far from resolved. The officer who fired the shot that killed the teenager has not been publicly identified, but is being formally investigated for intentional homicide and has been arrested.
THE LAST NEWS
Around the world
A conservative University of Chicago student objected to a class, “The Whiteness Problem,” and tweeted the lecturer’s photo and email address. Hate mail poured in.
Frightened, the lecturer, Rebecca Journey, above, postponed her class. Then she filed a complaint with the university, accusing the student of doxxing and harassing her. He denied it — and university officials dismissed his claims, citing the school’s much-appreciated commitment to near-unlimited speech. The school’s response sparked a debate about free speech and cyberbullying.
Peter Brötzmann, one of Europe’s most influential free-jazz musicians, died last month at the age of 82.
SPORTS NEWS FROM ATHLETIC
Premier League players who need a transfer: Some want to go up in the league. Others are surplus and want to play football as much as possible.
Spa circuit change time: The tragic death of Dilano van ‘t Hoff on the track on Saturday has once again put safety issues in the spotlight.
From the Times: England cricket fans are furious at what they say is unsportsmanlike play by an Australian athlete in the Ashes series.
Wibledon: On day one, Venus Williams was knocked out and No. 2 seeded but favorite Novak Djokovic made progress towards his fifth consecutive title at the All English Club.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The power of BookTok
BookTok – TikTok’s community of book lovers – has changed the way readers discover new reads. Stores that once steered readers’ tastes are now struggling to meet the demands of writers who have gone viral on the app. “To say this is hugely important is an understatement at this point,” said an editorial manager.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, recently launched its own publishing arm, Elizabeth Harris and Alexandra Alter reported for The Times. It offers deals for self-published authors in popular genres on the app, such as fantasy, romance, and mystery.
For more: How Colleen Hoover’s books – an addictive combination of sex, drama and outrageous twists – became a TikTok sensation.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook