Iraq protests highlight US-Iran rivalry and missteps
Two days of protest outside the US Embassy in Baghdad, triggered by fatal weekend US air strikes Highlight misperceptions of the country's two most powerful patrons: Iran and the United States.
The Iranian Substitute Militias have played a vital role in the fight against the Islamic State, making them unlikely to be companions of the United States. But one of them killed an American contractor in an attack on an Iraqi military base last week, apparently without fear of retaliation. It doesn't seem to have anticipated that his retaliation against an Iranian militia would spark a wide outcry in Iraq.
Details: Some demonstrators broke into the embassy grounds on Tuesday and set fire to some of its outbuildings. The crowd, which was smaller on Wednesday, withdrew after the Iranian-backed militias that organized the riots ordered them to withdraw.
Background: Here's why the demonstrators attacked the embassy and why The demonstrations in Iraq in the past few months have focused on Iran's overwhelming influence.
What's next? American presence in the country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned trip to Ukraine and four other nations on Wednesday to monitor tensions in Baghdad in Washington.
Netanyahu requests immunity and tests Israel's patience
] Only two months before an election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the rare move on Wednesday to ask Parliament to give him immunity from prosecution for transplant accusations to grant. The application could delay its process for months.
Mr. Netanyahu's application, which he submitted hours before the legal deadline, threatens to prolong the political standstill that Israel has left for almost a year without a fully functioning government. Legal experts say this would harm the rule of law.
Optik: The indictment has affected what our correspondent calls Mr. Netanyahu's "Aura of Invincibility". Still, Mr. Netanyahu is the longest in Israel. As Prime Minister, he has weathered previous political crises – just like when he brought his right-wing Likud party back to power in 2009, three years after winning 12 of the 120 seats in Parliament.
What's next? : According to Israeli law, a legislature must apply for immunity from a parliamentary body, the decision of which must then be ratified by a simple parliamentary majority. So far it is unclear whether Mr. Netanyahu could muster these voices.
Austria's next government is a study in contrasts
In Vienna today the conservative Austrian People's Party is expected to announce details of a new government forming it with the left Green Party. The new government will be officially launched next week.
If the improbable pairing succeeds, it could be a model for other European democracies – especially for Germany, where a similar coalition for 2021 is already being discussed after the next elections. It will also be a political coalition's second chance for 33-year-old former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Background: The new coalition comes seven months after the controversial alliance of the Austrian People's Party with a The right-wing extremist party collapsed under the weight of an influential scandal. "If nothing else," our reporter wrote, "the new coalition shows Mr. Kurz's capabilities as a political chameleon."
If you have 10 minutes, it's worth it
Earthquake in the Balkans
Sloppy construction and inattentiveness to the risks of aging buildings: a pattern that can be seen throughout Southeastern Europe repeated.
A fatal November earthquake in Albania warns a region that has been hit by much stronger quakes in the past. Three journalists write in a Times story that also includes reports from Romania and Croatia and Bulgaria. Experts warn that the Balkans are poorly prepared for the next big one.
The following is still happening
Turkey: In a special session Parliament is expected today to approve a plan to send troops to Libya to counter the armed forces supported by Russia Besieged Tripoli since April. It is the latest example of Turkey's growing self-confidence as a regional power and can help President Recep Tayyip Erdogan maintain his inner support.
The Vatican: Pope Francis apologized for having slapped the hand away from a woman who had pulled his hand and disrupted him for a moment. He said he had lost patience and set a bad example.
North Korea: Kim Jong-un said in a lengthy political statement that his country's self-imposed moratorium on nuclear tests had ended. But he also said that his efforts to expand northern nuclear capabilities "depending on the future stance of the United States" could be adjusted under a devastating fire season that has killed at least 15 people. That is why the fires are so destructive.
France: President Emmanuel Macron insisted in a speech that he did not renounce a plan to revise the country's pension system, which lasted almost a month of crippling transport strikes. Nevertheless, he indicated that he could be willing to compromise.
Germany: The rise of electric cars threatens jobs in the strong German automotive industry, which employs 835,000 people and deals with internal combustion engines and transmissions with its internal expertise. (Almost all European battery cells, which account for a large part of the cost of an electric car, are imported from Asia.)
Zoo fire: Dozens of animals were killed in a fire shortly after midnight on New Year's Day a monkey enclosure burned down in a zoo in western Germany.
Snapshot: At the top it rings in 2020 with kisses in New York City. Here are some pictures and videos from New Year celebrations around the world.
Culinary debate: A court in France ruled on Tuesday against Marc Veyrat, a celebrity chef who had sued the Michelin guide. He stripped his restaurant of one of the three stars. The court said he had not shown that the downgrading damaged his popular restaurant, La Maison des Bois.
Found cash: A hawk-eye employee in a landfill in southeast England gave £ 15,000 back in cash (nearly $ 20,000) to a couple who had inadvertently left it there. The money had belonged to a dead relative who had a habit of hiding money in the house.
What We Read: The Washington Post's list of what's new for 2020. "Since 1978, my former employer has compiled an annual scorecard of the cultural zeitgeist," writes Chris Stanford in the briefing- Team. "It contains helpful links for infinite unity like me, which makes no sense from most of the entries."
Well, a break from the news
Cook: This minced beef and macaroni recipe is the most luxurious Hamburg helper you have ever had.
Read: The Golden Globes award ceremony will take place on Sunday. Our pop culture reporter shares his predictions.
Lot: In its last broadcast, our 52-place columnist visited the end stations on his list: Tahiti and its neighboring islands in French Polynesia plus Winter Calgary, Canada.
Smarter Living: One of the best things you can do for your health is to limit foods with added sugar.
And now for the backstory to…
Beginning (and end) of a decade
In the past few weeks, The Times has published many articles marking the end of the decade. However, some readers have written to us passionately that the decade is still a year ahead.
In the 6th century, a Christian scholar named Dionysius Exiguus invented the Anno Domini numbering system, in which AD 1 indicates the year of birth of Jesus. There was no year zero, so the beginning of the first decade of the Common Era started with 1 and ended with 10.
Like language, time is socially constructed. People celebrated the end of the century in 2000 because the dramatic change in numbers served as a convenient marker and also because people are attracted to round numbers. Technically speaking, the first year in the third millennium is 2001. Apart from that, someone who was born in 2000 did not live in the 1990s.
Let's do it both ways. Welcome to the last year of the 202nd decade and also to the beginning of the 2020s.
Correction: Tuesday's instruction incorrectly stated that the result of a coalition agreement in Austria could make Sebastian Kurz the youngest incumbent head of state in the world. In fact, he would be the youngest head of government.
That's it for this briefing. Until next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for interrupting the news. Will Dudding, an assistant to the standardization department, wrote today's background story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We hear "The Daily" -old, who was the subject of our special children's episode about facing fears.
• Here is today's mini crossword puzzle and a clue: Half of 2020 (four letters). Here you will find all of our puzzles.
• A weekly column about the technology that Times journalists use found that, not surprisingly, the smartphone was their most important working tool.