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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire in Gaza to take effect on Friday morning.
The deal was brokered by Egypt after 11 days of fighting that have killed more than 230 people in Gaza, many of them Palestinian civilians, and badly damaged infrastructure, including the fresh water and sewer systems, the electrical grid, hospitals, schools and roads.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that his security cabinet had voted to accept the truce proposal, but cautioned “that the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the campaign.”
More than 4,000 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza since May 10 have killed 12 people, mostly civilians. Above, a man stands next to an unexploded Israeli missile in Gaza.
The violence comes after a year when mass protests across the U.S. have changed how many Americans see issues of racial and social justice. The pro-Palestinian position has become more common. “As a Jewish community, we are looking at it through slightly different eyes,” a rabbi in Syracuse, N.Y., said. Above, a protest in New York.
A shift is also occurring in the Democratic Party as progressive lawmakers led by Bernie Sanders introduced a resolution to block the sale of a $735 million arms package to Israel.
3. President Biden signed a bill to combat hate crimes against Asian-Americans.
The measure aims to hasten the Justice Department’s review of hate crimes and expand the channels to report them. It would also encourage the creation of hotlines, provide grants to law enforcement agencies and introduce a series of public education campaigns around bias against people of Asian descent. Above, a memorial after the Atlanta shooting.
Attacks against Asian-Americans have risen over the past year, with New York City recording the largest increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. Now, many people of Asian descent are arming themselves with pepper spray and other personal-defense devices in response to the continuing spate of attacks.
4. The final days of the government’s $788 billion coronavirus relief effort for small businesses has been mired in chaos and confusion.
The Paycheck Protection Program was scheduled to take applications for government-backed loans until May 31. But the program’s financing has almost run out and it has stopped processing most new applications.
Now, lenders are racing to finalize hundreds of thousands of applications that were still in progress when the Small Business Administration closed the program to new applications. Many lenders took on more customers than they could handle and are now struggling to manage irate borrowers. Above, George Greenfield, a loan applicant who runs a literary agency.
“We are showing up in communities and telling people: ‘You do matter. We are not just going to leave you out of the greater process,’” said Emily Smoak of the Minnesota Department of Health. Above, a mobile clinic in Minnesota.
In New York City, where 59 percent of people have received at least one dose, officials are turning to door-to-door outreach to win over those who are reluctant.
Hurricanes have become more destructive over time, in no small part because of the influences of a warming planet. The U.S. is approaching this hurricane season as those who respond to the nation’s disasters are stretched thin. Above, Nicaragua after Hurricane Iota.
With a year of record natural disasters and another tough season looming, FEMA employees are facing burnout. Currently, 29 percent fewer of the agency’s emergency staff are ready to deploy than at the start of last year’s hurricane season.
7. President Biden and South Korea’s leader, Moon Jae-in, will have to dance around an uncomfortable truth when they meet tomorrow: North Korea is unlikely to ever give up its nuclear weapons.
Moon, who will be at the White House, has said denuclearization is a “matter of survival” for South Korea and has called on Biden to revive talks on persuading Pyongyang to give up its weapons. But Biden officials harbor no illusions that the North will ever entirely disarm. Above, a photo of a missile test provided by the North Korean government.
North Korea’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, and its stockpile of fuel to make more, is larger than ever. The best unclassified estimates are that the North has at least 45 nuclear weapons, and appears headed toward amassing an arsenal roughly the size of Pakistan’s.
8. The Big Apple just grew — by 2.4 acres.
Little Island — mega-mogul Barry Diller’s $260 million pet project — was conceived a decade ago to replace Pier 54 on Manhattan’s West side. It includes trees, flowers and grass, organized around several performance spaces, including a spectacular 687-seat amphitheater overlooking the water. On the main plaza, you can grab a bite to eat and sit at cafe tables under canvas umbrellas.
Hundreds of free and modestly priced concerts, dance and children’s programs are planned to get underway this summer. Our architecture critic calls it “the architectural equivalent of a kitchen sink sundae, with a little bit of everything.”
9. Mountain biking’s growth in popularity has been extraordinary.
Thanks to improved bike technology, more trails and growing interest in it as a high-school sport, mountain biking has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past decade. The pandemic helped, as people sought relief from lockdowns. Above, bikers in Ohio.
According to a market research company, sales of front-suspension mountain bikes were up 150 percent last spring; by June, sales of more expensive models grew by 92 percent. The upswing seems likely to continue.
When you finish your ride, you might want to cool off with a summer beer. Our wine critic, Eric Asimov, shares some of his favorites.
10. And finally, behold the bird kite.
In a project that doubles as a meditative experience, Laurel Schwulst, an artist and educator, guides us through a simple and relaxing kite-making process. You just need some plastic sheets, wooden dowels, electrical tape and string, with a little help from scissors and a marker.
Kite-making does not require as much mathematical precision as you would think, says Schwulst. “But through making them on my own, I learned that kites could be more forgiving, and that really all amazing creations come from a process of trial and error and iteration.”
Have a high-flying evening.