Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times


President Volodymyr Zelensky is redoubling his diplomatic outreach to Europe, as U.S. aid to Ukraine remains snarled in Congress.

Zelensky and other Ukrainian politicians praised the bipartisan group of senators who approved $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine at a moment when weapons and ammunition are scarce there. The aid still has to be approved by the U.S. House, where a powerful faction of Republicans, encouraged by Donald Trump, are determined to resist the bill and where the Republican speaker has said he would ignore it.

Mr. Zelensky will most likely push for more military assistance on visits to Berlin, Paris and possibly London as part of a whirlwind tour this week, a Ukrainian official said.

President Biden implored House Republicans yesterday to pass the aid, calling recent anti-NATO comments by Trump, the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination, “dumb,” “dangerous” and “un-American.”

The world’s third-largest democracy, Indonesia, is choosing a new president today, as tens of millions of people across the archipelago of thousands of islands head to the polls to choose one of three presidential candidates.

They are: Anies Baswedan, Prabowo Subianto and Ganjar Pranowo. President Joko Widodo, the popular incumbent who is barred from seeking a third term, has appeared to engineer an alliance with Prabowo without explicitly endorsing anyone.

Prabowo, a former general accused of committing human rights abuses when Indonesia was a dictatorship under Suharto, is the favorite. But if he does not secure more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff election in June. Many Indonesians have expressed concerns that Prabowo could send the country back to its authoritarian past.

Sui-Lee Wee, The Times’s Southeast Asia bureau chief, said that Prabowo’s supporters believe that he will likely focus on infrastructure development and economic growth, “but what people fear is the slow erosion of democratic norms, which have been started by Joko, but could accelerate under a leader who has once professed that Indonesia doesn’t need democracy nor elections.”

Negotiators from several countries struggled yesterday to reach an agreement to temporarily halt the war in the Gaza Strip. Officials said that the negotiations were promising, but that Israel and Hamas were still not close to a deal.

The talks came as the U.N., the U.S. and other countries have expressed increasing alarm about a possible Israeli incursion into Rafah, where about 1.4 million people are sheltering.

Israel’s prime minister has said that the country will conduct an offensive in Rafah and has ordered the military to draw up plans to evacuate civilians. But Palestinians and international aid groups say that no place in Gaza is safe, and that moving people out of Rafah will worsen their situations.

More news from the war: The Times investigates a tunnel under Al-Shifa hospital.

A married pair of researchers may have determined that smooching is more ancient than many thought. After consulting cuneiform texts on clay tablets from Mesopotamia and Egypt, they determined that kissing was widespread and well established in the Middle East since at least the late third millennium B.C.

Lives lived: David Bouley translated French nouvelle cuisine into the New American style that shaped high-end cooking. He died at 70.

Visualizing soccer teams’ styles: Understanding how clubs play across Europe.

A “privileged” market for drivers: Can Aston Martin keep Fernando Alonso?

Time for change: Things have gone too far at the WM Phoenix Open, a columnist writes.

Batsheva Hay, a fashion designer in New York, has spent weeks searching for fresh new faces to model her clothing. But she is only interested in models who are 40 or older.

A woman over 40 is not uncommon on the runway. But older models are tokenized, much like plus-size models, and typically there are at most three in a cast of 30, 50 or 80.

For this runway show, Hay, 42, plans to keep her models’ faces relatively bare because “I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re trying to look younger.”

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