Your Wednesday Briefing

A Sunday vote on Israel’s new government

Lawmakers in Israel will hold a vote of confidence on Sunday on a new coalition government, potentially ending the 12-year tenure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It would clear the way for his potential replacement, Naftali Bennett, a former entrepreneur and settler leader who opposes a Palestinian state and says he believes Israel should annex much of the occupied West Bank. He would lead an ideologically varied alliance that ranges from the far left to the hard right and includes an independent Arab party.

But the alliance’s fragility and its wafer-thin majority — if no one drops out, it will command 61 of Parliament’s 120 seats — have left many wondering whether the coalition will last until the vote, let alone through its full four-year term. Bennett has agreed to cede the prime minister’s office in 2023 to Yair Lapid, a centrist former television host.

Analysis: Although it appears that a peaceful democratic transition will take place in Israel, nothing is certain — especially as Netanyahu accuses his rival of a “deep state” conspiracy, our reporter writes.

Hacked devices key to a global police sting

Global law enforcement officials yesterday revealed a three-year operation in which they said they had used hacked devices to intercept over 20 million messages from crime syndicates, revealing activities such as a plan to ship cocaine from Ecuador to Belgium in cans of tuna. At least 800 people were arrested in more than a dozen countries.

The F.B.I. worked with police agencies in countries like Sweden and the Netherlands to sell more than 12,000 of the hacked devices to crime gangs in more than 100 countries. The phones had a hidden function that sent encrypted messages and photos, and law enforcement officials were able to view them. Users so trusted the devices’ security that they often laid out their plans in plain language, not in code.

In Sweden, the police arrested 155 people on suspicion of serious crimes and prevented the killings of 10 people, the authorities said. The operation also targeted Italian organized crime groups and international drug-trafficking organizations, and hundreds more people were arrested in Europe.

More crime news: The wife of the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo is set to plead guilty to charges of helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar empire, as well as aiding his escape from a high-security Mexican prison, according to a person familiar with the case.

Vaccines expected for U.S. children this fall

Coronavirus vaccines may be available in the fall for children in the U.S. as young as 6 months. Pfizer and Moderna are testing their vaccines in children younger than 12 and expect to have results for children ages 5 through 11 by September.

Children are much less likely than adults to develop severe illness following infection with the coronavirus, though doctors continue to see rare cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a condition that is linked to the coronavirus and that can affect various organs, including the heart.

The U.S. will not be the first country to authorize a vaccine for young children. China has approved Sinovac’s vaccine for children as young as 3, according to the company’s chairman. The approval has not been officially announced.

Details: Based on data from an earlier study that assessed safety, Pfizer will give two doses of 10 micrograms each — a third of the dose given to adolescents and adults — to children ages 5 to 11, and two doses of three micrograms each to children ages 6 months to 5 years.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

State health officials are growing increasingly concerned about whether doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may expire this month. The White House said states should consult the F.D.A. about extending the doses’ shelf life.

Washington State will allow adults to claim a free marijuana joint when they receive a Covid-19 vaccination shot.


News From Europe

An international tribunal upheld a conviction for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander during the Balkan wars. He was tried for some of the most shocking atrocities in Europe since World War II.

A London police officer pleaded guilty to the rape and kidnapping of Sarah Everard, the British woman whose killing in March touched off a national reckoning over violence against women.

Two people were arrested after a man slapped Emmanuel Macron, the French president, as he was approaching a small crowd, prompting condemnation of the attack across the political spectrum.

Other Big Stories

Wealthy Americans like Jeff Bezos, above, Warren Buffett and Elon Musk paid little to nothing in federal income taxes, according to analysis based on Internal Revenue Service documents revealed by ProPublica.

A new 127-page Senate report found that U.S. intelligence agencies had failed to warn law enforcement officials that pro-Trump extremists were threatening to “storm the Capitol” on Jan. 6.

As inflation worries circle the globe, Beijing is moving swiftly to protect its factories and workplaces from rising costs through moves including giving subsidies to small businesses to pay for commodities and placing limits on commodities trading to rein in speculation.

What Else Is Happening

A global internet outage on Tuesday briefly took down major sites including those of The Times and the British government. The outage was connected to Fastly, a provider of cloud computing services, which said a fix was being made.

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told senior Communist Party officials last week that they should improve their communications with the rest of the world and “strive to create a credible, lovable and respectable image of China,” he said.

A team of British scientists estimates that tens of millions of people cannot conjure images in their minds — a condition the scientists have named aphantasia — while millions more experience extraordinarily strong mental imagery, or hyperphantasia.

A Morning Read

A battle erupted in the French city of Trappes after a high school teacher said that Islamists had taken over the town, a view vigorously countered by the mayor.

The fight boils down to a single, angry question that runs through the culture wars rippling across France: Can Islam be compatible with the principles of the French Republic? Lire cet article en Français.


A very strange French Open

The pandemic may be ebbing, but Paris still has a curfew, which feels completely unnatural in the City of Light, writes our reporter Matthew Futterman, who is there to cover the French Open. This is a lightly edited excerpt.

It happens every night, and yet it feels so strange each time. All across Paris, as the 9 p.m. curfew approaches, chairs and tables at bars and cafes that usually remain open until the small hours get stacked and stored. The city slams shut as fast as a window.

At Roland Garros, where the French Open is holding one match each night for the first time, ominous announcements begin around 8:30 p.m.

“The gates will be closing in 15 minutes,” a prerecorded voice says in French and then English. The stands selling flutes of champagne, crêpes and pains au chocolat begin to pack it in. A 10-minute warning follows and then a five-minute one, and then finally, “Ladies and gentlemen, the gates are now closed.”

The pandemic began turning cities into ghost towns nearly a year and a half ago. There is something especially strange about seeing this nightly routine in the so-called City of Light. This is a place famous for its 3 a.m. jazz sets, where the Lost Generation argued all night about the meaning of life in smoke-filled bars on the Left Bank.

But the curfew is no joke. If you somehow forget to eat and do not have much in the fridge at home, you are out of luck. All the kitchens, grocers and ice cream parlors are, unnaturally, locked. And there are no late-night steak-frites to be had.


What to Cook

Serve Jamaican curry chicken and potatoes over rice or on its own.

What to Listen to

“For Those I Love,” the deeply personal debut album from the musician David Balfe, has become a runaway success in his native Ireland.

Virtual Travel

One man — and a whole lot of seabirds — lives on a remote 370-acre, two-mile-long island in Washington State.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Descriptor of spiral-shaped French fries (five letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a great day. — Natasha

P.S. Our Tokyo bureau chief, Motoko Rich, spoke with the BBC World Service and NewstalkZB in New Zealand about constraints faced by athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about who is hacking the U.S. economy.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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