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We start today with a rising toll in Israel and Gaza, the pope’s message to Bulgarians and the case for binge-reading.
Clashes escalate between Israel and Gaza
At least three Israeli civilians and 22 Palestinians were killed over the weekend in the worst combat since their war in Gaza in 2014. Palestinians launched hundreds of rockets and Israel responded with airstrikes and targeted killings of fighters in Gaza.
Israel deployed an armored brigade and an infantry brigade for a possible ground incursion, and another infantry brigade was put on standby.
Context: In the past year, Israel and Gaza have been locked in a cycle of clashes followed by de-escalations, with Egyptian-brokered talks repeatedly achieving a temporary cooling off along the border. A November truce, which called for Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza and for Palestinians to cease attacks, has never fully taken hold.
Timing: Security, always focal in Israel, is now more so. The country celebrates Memorial Day and Independence Day this week, and a stream of international singers are arriving to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv this month.
Trade deal in sight, U.S. raises pressure on China
Senior Chinese officials arrive in Washington this week for what could be the final round of talks between the world’s largest economies.
On Sunday, President Trump appeared to try to increase the sense of urgency, threatening to increase tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday and to impose levies on hundreds of billions of dollars of additional imports “shortly.” He also complained in a tweet that negotiations were moving “too slowly.”
Another angle: The Trump administration has been under bipartisan pressure to raise the topic of China’s detention of Uighurs and other minority Muslims during the trade talks, but it has declined to do so. It has also backed away from imposing sanctions on officials believed to be involved in the crackdown in Xinjiang.
North Korea revives an old playbook
On Saturday, North Korea fired a volley of projectiles off its eastern coast — the most serious weapons test by the country since November 2017, when it launched intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The test comes months after the second summit meeting between President Trump and the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, ended abruptly over a disagreement on whether harsh sanctions against North Korea would be lifted before it dismantled its entire nuclear weapons program.
Analysis: Mr. Kim could be toying with the idea of ending his own moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, which could escalate pressure on Mr. Trump to return to the negotiating table.
On the ground: About 40 percent of North Korea’s population is in urgent need of food aid after the country had its worst harvest in a decade, according to the U.N., underlining the crippling impact of international sanctions.
Pope Francis urges Bulgaria to welcome refugees
Making his first visit to the Balkan nation, Pope Francis appealed for care for migrants, a stance putting him at odds with the country’s government and the dominant Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
He also tried to mend a 1,000-year schism between Rome and the Orthodox church, but the welcome was not warm. The leaders of the Orthodox church ordered its priests to refrain from worshiping with the pope and made clear that the invitation to him had come from the Bulgarian government, not from the church.
Francis is the second pope to visit Bulgaria, where Roman Catholics make up less than 1 percent of the population.
Next: Francis is expected to visit a refugee camp in Sofia, the capital, before heading to North Macedonia, the birthplace of Mother Teresa and another predominantly Orthodox nation with few Catholics.
Context: Bulgaria has the fastest-shrinking population in the world, according to the U.N., and is losing many of its youth and educated classes to opportunities abroad. Last year, the government declined to join a U.N. global pact on migration.
If you’re following the Indian elections …
The diaspora’s impact
More than half of the Indian diaspora — a population of about 30 million — can’t vote in the general elections because they don’t have Indian citizenship. The roughly 13 million who do can vote only if they return to the country; there are no online or postal options.
But many are still trying to take part. Some have organized rallies abroad, and reports suggest that thousands returned to their homeland to volunteer for canvassing efforts.
Such international engagement dates to 1975, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties, installing a curfew and imprisoning political opponents without trial.
During that time, opposition leaders and activists mobilized Indians abroad to appeal to foreign leaders and to engage with the international news media to pressure Ms. Gandhi, according to research published last year.
Days after her declaration, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Indian Embassy in Washington and the Indian High Commission in London. Some provided “information, funds and moral support.”
According to the research, the mobilization helped transform “the way in which the government and political organizations in India perceived the political significance of the diaspora.” — Alisha Haridasani Gupta
Send us your feedback or questions on this series here.
Here’s what else is happening
Boeing: The company believed that a warning light was standard in all of its 737 Max jetliners. But months after the planes began flying, Boeing engineers realized it was a premium add-on.
Facebook: The social network opened a command post in Dublin to prevent election meddling in this month’s European Union elections. People inside are tasked with washing Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts and foreign meddling that could sway European voters.
Moscow: A Russian-made Aeroflot plane made an emergency landing at the city’s main airport on Sunday and became almost entirely engulfed in a gigantic plume of flame and smoke, killing at least 41 people.
Cyclone Fani: The authorities in India and Bangladesh saved many lives by evacuating more than a million people into specially built cyclone shelters ahead of the storm, one of the biggest to hit the countries in years.
North Macedonia: With nearly all ballots counted, Stevo Pendarovski, a government-backed candidate, had about 52 percent of the vote, compared with about 45 percent for his opponent, Gordana Siljanovska Davkova. Mr. Pendarovski, unlike his rival, plans to bring the country into NATO under its new name.
Snapshot: Enes Kanter, above, will be fasting for Ramadan, which started Sunday. Oh, and he’s in the middle of the N.B.A. playoffs. Kanter, a Swiss-born Turk, has fasted while playing competitive basketball for the past decade, but never during the postseason.
Scholars: Medieval studies is grappling with a fraught question: Does the field have a white supremacy problem? Some say yes, arguing that scholarship on the Middle Ages helped create the idea of white European superiority. Others say activists are trying to replace scholarship with denunciations of white male privilege.
London Marathon: Jessica Anderson, a nurse in London, sought to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest woman to run the marathon in a nurse’s uniform. She beat the record — but Guinness rejected it because she wore scrubs instead of a dress.
The case for binge-reading: Instead of reading books in five- or 10-minute snatches before bed, push on through chapter break after chapter break and read for hours, Ben Dolnick, a novelist, writes in the Opinion section. He argues it’s more satisfying than the creepy propulsion that draws you into a “White Collar” marathon.
What we’re reading: This in Practical Typography. There’s no end of analysis of the Democratic presidential candidates, but Matthew Butterick, a typographer, coder and lawyer, takes the choice of fonts on their campaign homepages as his starting point. Michael Wines, our national correspondent, calls it a “hugely entertaining review.”
Now, a break from the news
Watch: The big draw of Netflix’s exuberant documentary “Knock Down the House” — about four women who ran for Congress in 2018 — is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York.
Listen: “You Can’t Steal My Joy” is the debut album from Ezra Collective, a leading ensemble from the burgeoning South London jazz scene.
Go: “Ink,” James Graham’s invigorating play about London journalism, goes on a journey to the tabloid underworld — and the American present.
Smarter Living: Mobile language-learning apps are great, but not that great. Our writer reviewed Memrise and Babbel, and accumulated a Duolingo streak in excess of 500 days. He concludes that the apps do well teaching new writing systems, like Korean, Japanese or Russian, and basic conversational phrases useful for travel. But fluency requires much more, including understanding gestures and context, so consider the apps a starting point.
And we have guidance and caveats on booking with budget airlines.
And now for the Back Story on …
The Met Gala
Get ready: Your social feeds are about to be overwhelmed by the biggest, most over-the-top red carpet event of the year.
The wattage is because of the button-pushing, arm-twisting genius of its fairy godmother/mastermind, the Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who also ensures that everyone Dresses to Impress, in a theme that complements that of the exhibit it nominally heralds.
This year, it’s “Camp,” which may break the internet.
In theory, the public eye gets no further than the red carpet and the cocktail hour. Vogue covers the whole shebang for a special edition of the magazine. Guests are not supposed to post on social media, so the famous can let their hair down.
But it’s hard to resist. In 2017, someone sneaked a bathroom snap of Bella Hadid, Lara Stone, Paris Jackson and Ruby Rose smoking on the floor and put it on Instagram. Met trustees were not pleased.
That’s it for this briefing. Have a glamorous day.
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. Vanessa Friedman, our chief fashion critic, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on a secret dossier in Venezuela.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: It’s separated from the chaff (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• James Bennet, the editorial page editor for The New York Times, recused himself from 2020 election coverage following the entry of his brother, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, in the presidential race.