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Evening Briefing: Israeli-Palestinian hostilities explode

Email sent: May 12, 2021 6:35pm
Plus Republicans oust Cheney and it's spritz season.

Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

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By Remy Tumin and Jade-Snow Joachim

Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Hosam Salem for The New York Times

1. Hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians worsened with mob violence between Jews and Arabs in Israeli cities while rockets and missiles streaked overhead.

Israel claimed the assassinations of senior Hamas militants and pounded both military and residential areas across Gaza. The militants have fired more than 1,000 rockets aimed at cities across central and southern Israel. Above, a building in central Gaza was leveled to the ground after an Israeli air raid today.

An Israeli military official said three infantry brigades were “preparing for a worst-case scenario,” confirming that a ground invasion of Gaza could follow the bombardment from the air.

But the most shocking developments occurred on the streets of Israel, as rival Jewish and Arab mobs attacked cars, shops and people in several cities, leaving some fearing that the decades-old Israel-Palestinian conflict was heading into new territory.

More than 50 Palestinians including at least 14 children have been killed, according to Gaza health authorities, and in Israel the death toll reached at least seven people including a 6-year-old. A U.S. envoy is heading to the region to urge calm. Airlines in the U.S. have started to cancel flights to Israel.


Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

2. House Republicans ousted Representative Liz Cheney from their leadership for her refusal to stay quiet about Donald Trump’s election lies.

The action came by voice vote during a brief but raucous closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. The Wyoming Republican gave an unrepentant final speech, warning her colleagues that the former president was leading them toward “destruction.” They booed.


Her removal reflected the party’s intolerance for dissent and unswerving loyalty to Trump. After the meeting, Cheney said she was committed to doing “everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets near the Oval Office.”

To replace Cheney as their No. 3, Republican leaders have united behind Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a onetime moderate turned Trump loyalist. If elected, the top three House Republican leadership posts will be held by lawmakers who voted not to certify President Biden’s victory.

Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters

3. A C.D.C. advisory panel endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 to 15. Officials predicted that immunizations would begin quickly nationwide.

The decision, which the C.D.C. director is expected to approve later today, was the final step toward making the Pfizer vaccine available to that age group, removing an obstacle to school reopenings and cheering millions of families weary of pandemic restrictions.

Vaccine hesitancy remains a roadblock, however. A recent poll showed that only about 30 percent of parents would get their children vaccinated right away. And then there’s a large number who aren’t hesitant, but still haven’t gotten the vaccine. Some 30 million people in the U.S. have yet to get the shot for reasons that are more complex.

Rassin Vannier/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

4. The Seychelles won acclaim for becoming the world’s most vaccinated nation. Now the island is battling a surge of coronavirus infections, including among the fully vaccinated.

The Seychelles relied heavily on China’s Sinopharm vaccine in its push to inoculate more than 60 percent of its population. Now the outbreak is making some question the choice of vaccine. Scientists are warning that developing nations that choose to use the vaccines from China could end up lagging behind countries using vaccines with stronger efficacy numbers.

In other virus news, international donors have raised millions of dollars to help India during its Covid crisis, but the Modi administration has put hurdles in place for overseas organizations and guided the money to officially endorsed groups.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

5. The Colonial Pipeline began resuming operations, its operator said. It had been shut down since last week after a ransomware attack.

The company said it would take “several days” for the supply chain to return to normal. The shutdown had begun to cause panic buying that left thousands of outlets out of gasoline in the Southeast, like the one in Benson, N.C., above, pushing up regional fuel prices.

In other business news, consumer prices rose in April at their fastest pace since 2008, a jump that could resonate on Wall Street as investors worry about inflation. The Consumer Price Index climbed 4.2 percent from a year earlier. A top Fed official said he was surprised but added, “this is one data point.”


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Source: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information

6. Wildfires are bigger and starting earlier. Flooding is more common. The air is getting hotter. Even the pollen season is beginning sooner.

Those were a few takeaways from the federal government’s most comprehensive and up-to-date account of the effects of climate change, its first since 2016. Among the findings: The frequency of heat waves has tripled since the 1960s; and in some places, the sea level relative to the land rose more than eight inches between 1960 and 2020.

New baseline data for temperature, rain, snow and other weather events reveal how the climate has changed in the U.S. These maps show the new “normal” for weather.

Tomas Hanicinec

7. Only 44 people are said to have reached the summit of all 14 of the world’s highest mountains. Now researchers are raising doubts about their accomplishments.

At the center of the debate is the definition of a summit. Researchers are studying all the key ascents, through photographs and written accounts, trying to place climbers in precise locations. Of the 44 climbers, there are seven with blatant shortcomings in at least one of their ascents, said Eberhard Jurgalski, who has spent 40 years chronicling the climbs.

In some instances they stopped just a few meters short, whether by accident or tradition. “There are no two possibilities,” Jurgalski said. “There is only one. A summit is not halfway or 99 percent of the way.”

Derrick L. Turner/Michigan State University

8. One of the world’s longest-running experiments is sending up sprouts.

Last month, we told you about a team of scientists who dig up bottles of seeds buried in 1879 to learn whether they would still grow after years of dormancy. Grow they did — 11 as of Tuesday. One of the seedlings is a bit of a mystery, but the rest are most likely Verbascum blattaria — commonly known as moth mullein — a tall, jaunty-flowered herb that has emerged as the experiment’s undisputed champ.

With so many new gardeners this past pandemic year, presumably some are having their first close encounters with poison ivy. Yes, it’s irritating. But poison ivy also has some unappreciated superpowers, our garden expert writes. Here’s how to deal with it.

Brian Ach/Getty Images; Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

9. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its class of 2021, and nearly half of the 15 inductees are women.

Among them are Tina Turner, the Go-Go’s and Carole King along with Jay-Z, Foo Fighters and Todd Rundgren. The lineup comes after years of criticism that the hall’s inductees — the marble busts in the pantheon of rock — were too homogeneous and excluded women. Seven in this year’s class are female artists.

In other pop culture news, Ellen DeGeneres will end her daytime talk show next year after a steep decline in ratings this season and accusations of a toxic workplace.

Bryan Gardner for The New York Times

10. And finally, another shot in the spritz wars.

Two years ago, the drinks expert Rebekah Peppler made a bold statement that triggered indignation on the internet: The Aperol spritz is not good. Peppler is back with another spritz take, this time with a nod to north-central Italy (and one that is likely to cause less outrage).

Lambrusco — gently sparkling, low alcohol and often budget friendly — “makes for an earthy spritz that leans toward the right side of crushable,” Peppler writes; just add grapefruit juice, sparkling water and bitters. It’s also refreshing on its own and comes in a variety of styles from dry to sweet, red to rosé.

Have an effervescent night.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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