A deadly strike on a Ukrainian apartment building
A missile built to sink ships exploded in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Saturday, hitting a nine-story apartment building. As of yesterday, 30 people were confirmed killed, 79 were injured and at least 30 people remained unaccounted for. It was one of the largest losses of civilian lives far from the front line since the beginning of the war.
A week before, Russia had launched dozens of missiles across Ukraine in two waves of strikes that coincided with the Orthodox New Year. Deliberately or recklessly attacking civilian populations in this way is widely considered a war crime. It comes after months of Russian assaults on infrastructure targets that provide power, heat and water.
Immediately after the attack, pro-Russian news outlets and military bloggers claimed that the apartment building was not the target but had been struck by fragments of the missile after Ukrainian air defenses tried to intercept it. Ukrainian forces were quick to deny that, and evidence from the scene pointed to a direct strike on the building.
Location: Dnipro, a city nestled against the river of the same name, had a population of just under one million before the war began. Although targeted by Russian shelling, the city has never been occupied by Russian forces or been the scene of frontline fighting. The city has been home to displaced people who have flocked to its relative safety.
In other news from the war:
Britain said that it would give battle tanks to Ukrainian forces, breaching a Western taboo against sending such powerful weapons.
Russia has looted Ukraine’s museums in what experts say is the biggest art heist since World War II.
World leaders gather in Davos
The World Economic Forum starts today in Davos, Switzerland. On the agenda: international fracture, nationalism and protectionism under the shadow of war in Europe and sharp tensions between the U.S. and China.
Politicians, executives, environmentalists and other leaders will wrestle with questions about the threat to supply chains, fears of nuclear “Armageddon” provoked by the war in Ukraine and the looming threat of a global recession. Power is shifting away from the U.S. as China’s military and economic heft grows, but the shape of an alternative international system is unclear.
Europe’s crises will be the undercurrent jolting discussions. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, both the E.U. and NATO have remained mostly united. But there are continuing differences among member states, including over how to work with allies and NATO.
Details: China is sending a vice premier, Liu He, and the U.S. delegation will include Katherine Tai, the trade representative, and John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy for climate. Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has indicated that he will attend, although whether through video link or in person is unclear.
Israel’s new hard-right government
Three weeks in, Israel’s government, the most right-wing in the country’s history, is quickly pressing ahead with legislation that critics fear will erode Israeli democracy. Benjamin Netanyahu has returned as prime minister, this time leading a coalition of conservative, far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties.
Isabel Kershner, a correspondent in The Times’s Jerusalem bureau, spoke to The Morning newsletter about the right’s push to transform Israel. This is a lightly edited extract.
What is the new government trying to accomplish?
The right-wing parties in the coalition are all extremely ideological, and Netanyahu has made a lot of concessions to them. The new hard-right finance minister is claiming more authority over Jewish settlements and civilian affairs in the occupied West Bank. Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers want more autonomy and more funding for religious students and schools.
The government is also moving to radically overhaul the judiciary. The coalition wants to give Parliament more power to select judges and override Supreme Court rulings. Critics say the coalition’s proposed changes would completely change the nature of Israel’s liberal democracy, which is dynamic but also fragile.
What does the new government mean for relations with the Palestinians?
The levels of confidence are below zero. The previous Israeli government, which for the first time included a small Islamic Arab party in the governing coalition, prioritized fighting crime in conjunction with Arab local authorities. Now the minister overseeing the police has a history of being an anti-Arab activist and provocateur. The situation regarding the Palestinians in the occupied territories was already tense, and things have quickly become confrontational.
How has all this left Israelis feeling about the state of their politics?
There was a pro-L.G.B.T.Q. protest on the day the new government was sworn in because Netanyahu’s coalition includes some extremely anti-gay lawmakers. There have since been protests, including a big one on Saturday night, in Tel Aviv, a more secular, liberal city about an hour from Jerusalem.
Things here feel more polarized than ever, and there’s a lot at stake. The country is split over what kind of democracy Israel should be and how it’s going to relate to Palestinians. Even among the half of the country that did vote for a right-wing party, not all of them are happy.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
As the war in Ukraine rages on, thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have fled their homelands for the Indonesian island of Bali. But even in a tropical paradise, the war is ever-present.
“We don’t know how to communicate with Russians,” one Ukrainian worker in Bali said. “It is so hard for us.” Mostly, he added, he did not see the need to engage with Russians about the war. “They have their information and we have our own.”
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
Harry Kane closes in on record: Kane needs one goal to tie Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham Hotspur’s all-time top scorer. It’s a team achievement that doesn’t often happen anymore.
Manchester United looks like a contender: United’s derby performance shows there is an authority to Ten Hag’s instructions — which has put his team in the hunt for the title.
Karim Benzema taking his future ‘year by year’: Benzema says he isn’t plotting what’s ahead as he enters the final six months of his contract with Real Madrid.
From The Times: At The Australian Open, Nick Kyrgios, the eccentric and temperamental Australian showman, has withdrawn after a knee injury. Novak Djokovic, still unvaccinated against Covid-19, has been cleared to play. And Iga Swiatek, the No. 1-seeded favorite in the women’s bracket, faces a tough draw.
ARTS AND IDEAS
‘Based on a true story’
The entertainment genre of historical drama is flourishing — and riddled with inaccuracies, which range from embellishments to major fabrications. The untrue parts are leading to more public spats and lawsuits, Jeremy W. Peters and Nicole Sperling report.
Disclaimers like the ones featured in “The Crown” are sometimes enough to protect a studio from legal liability, especially if they are prominently displayed and offer detail of what has been fictionalized, legal experts say. But if someone can convincingly claim that he or she was harmed by what screenwriters made up, that is grounds for a strong defamation suit.
Defamation experts and Hollywood studios are closely watching developments in a lawsuit filed by a former prosecutor depicted in a Netflix series about the “Central Park Five” case. A federal judge ruled that her claims of defamation in five separate scenes in the series were plausible, and the case is proceeding in U.S. District Court.
Read more about the legal theatrics precipitated by historical dramas.
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