Sunday, June 23

Friday Briefing – The New York Times

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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.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.

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