February 6, 2023

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza agreed to a ceasefire late last night, which appeared to be in effect as of this morning. The move is expected to end a three-day conflict that killed dozens of Palestinians, destroyed buildings and killed two key leaders of Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s second largest movement.

The fighting began on Friday afternoon when Israel launched air strikes to thwart what it said was an imminent attack from Gaza. The fighting exposed simmering tensions between Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian militia hard hit by the fighting, and Hamas, the militia running Gaza that chose to remain on the fringes of the conflict.

Israel refused to reveal more details about the ceasefire agreement. However, Islamic Jihad said it had received assurances from an intermediary of Egyptian officials that Egypt would press for the release of two leading members of the group, Basem al-Saadi and Khalil Awawda, who are detained in Israeli prisons.

strategy: Israel has made small economic concessions to ordinary Gazans – notably 14,000 work permits to help improve the Palestinian economy. This approach has helped persuade Hamas to stay out of this particular conflict, and will likely shorten its duration.

International context: Morocco and the UAE – two of the three Arab countries that established formal relations with Israel in 2020 – have expressed concern about the violence but have avoided criticizing Israel. And only the third country, Bahrain, directly condemned the Israeli strikes.

Missiles have fallen on the grounds of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, posing the latest threat to Europe’s largest nuclear facility. Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the attack, and fighting in the southern region has raised fears of a major accident.

Russian forces have taken control of the plant since March, and have used it as a base to launch artillery shells at the Ukrainian-controlled town of Nikopol across the Dnipro River over the past month. Saturday’s attack included a barrage of missiles that Ukrainian officials said damaged 47 apartment buildings and homes.

The fighting, combined with Russia’s occupation of parts of the plant and the pressure on reactor workers, prompted Rafael Grossi, head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, to warn last week that “every principle of nuclear safety has been violated”. Safety concerns have risen in Zaporizhia since a fire broke out when Russian forces took control.

context: Since the invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia has made it a priority to seize and target vital Ukrainian infrastructure such as power stations, ports, transportation, storage facilities and agricultural production.

More war in Ukraine:

Yesterday the US Senate passed legislation that would make the most important federal investment in history to tackle climate change. The measure, prompted by tax increases, would inject more than $370 billion into climate and energy programs, allowing the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions about 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

The final tally was 51 to 50, along partisan lines, as Vice President Kamala Harris cast the cut-off vote. The bill would provide billions of dollars in rebates for Americans who buy energy-efficient appliances and electrical appliances as well as tax credits for companies building new sources of zero-emissions electricity, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

For Democrats, the passage of that measure capped a remarkably successful six-week period that included the final approval of a $280 billion Industrial Policy Act to boost American competitiveness with China and the largest expansion of veterans benefits in decades. Republicans condemned climate legislation as federal overreach and reckless spending.

background: Initially floated as “Building Back Better,” a multibillion-dollar cradle-to-grave social safety net plan based on Great Society legislation in the 1960s, Democrats scaled back the bill in recent months and renamed it the Inflation Reduction Represents. Its passage represents a major victory for President Biden and his party.

London’s public housing project Trelllick Tower, built in 1972, has gone from an ugly, eye-catching symbol to a brutal one. His apartments, located near Notting Hill, were very expensive, cut down as soon as they were listed.

Now, residents fear that Trelllick’s success has left the tower vulnerable. Given the acute shortage of affordable housing in London and valuable properties occupied by Trellick, it is likely that developers will attempt to build on the site in the future – despite the best efforts of its residents.

Queer Britain, a new museum near London’s King’s Cross station, is Britain’s first LGBTQ museum. He joins a group of international institutions whose directors are carefully considering how to frame gay history — and sometimes come to different conclusions, Alex Marshall reports for The Times.

Queer Britain’s inaugural exhibition seeks to represent the diversity of the queer experience, with items on display including banners from this year’s Trans + Pride parade, a rainbow veil and Oscar Wilde’s prison cell door. “A lot of LGBTQ+ history has been about erasure,” said Joseph Galliano Doig, director of the museum. “For us that is the saying: We are here, and our stories deserve to be told.”

In Berlin, the Schwules Museum takes an explicitly political stance, seeking to recognize LGBT history as part of mainstream collective history and, as one board member put it, “to challenge the problematic discourses prevalent within queer society.” The museum is currently hosting an exhibition about Tuntenhaus, a famous squat gay activist in Berlin.

As they continue to grow, how these museums decide to present LGBTQ history will remain a burning question. “Since the early days, history has been a tool in building a queer identity,” said Huw Lemmey, co-host of the “Bad Gays” podcast. “Museums are not independent reporters of the past, they are part of an ongoing process of identity formation, so the stakes are very high.”

Read more about the goals of queer museums.

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