Your Thursday Briefing: A journalist killed in the West Bank

Plus uncertainty about China’s wheat harvest and religious violence in India.
Author Headshot

By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering the killing of an Al Jazeera journalist, China’s uncertain wheat harvest and rising religious violence in India.

Shireen Abu Akleh, reporting in Jerusalem for Al Jazeera, was one of the best-known Palestinian journalists. via Agence France-Presse

Journalist killed in the West Bank

Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was fatally shot in the head while reporting in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Al Jazeera, citing Palestinian authorities, said Israeli forces shot her during a raid. The news network said it held the government and military accountable. Israel’s military said that it was not clear who shot her, and that it was investigating the possibility that blame could lie with Palestinian gunmen.

Another journalist there said that there had not been any confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army when the shots were fired toward the journalists. She said she believed that they had been targeted.

Details: Abu Akleh was wearing a protective vest that identified her as a member of the news media, video showed. Another Al Jazeera journalist, also wearing a protective vest, was shot in the back.

Profile: Abu Akleh, 51, was a household name across the Middle East.

Context: In the wake of several attacks by Palestinians that have killed 19 Israelis and foreigners since late March, the Israeli military has been carrying out raids into Jenin. At least three of the suspected perpetrators of the recent attacks were from the area.

Politics: Israel gained a measure of political stability on Wednesday, after Raam, a small Arab party, said it would rejoin the fragile governing coalition.

The U.S. estimates that China’s wheat crop will be 3 percent smaller this year.Guo Xulei/Xinhua via Getty Images

War disturbs China’s wheat harvest

Ukraine’s wheat exports have been mostly halted since Russia’s invasion, while drought has damaged crops in India, East Africa and the U.S.

Now China’s harvest is uncertain. In March, the country’s agriculture minister said the wheat crop would be the worst on record because of torrential rains last fall.

The country’s coronavirus lockdowns have interrupted farming and delayed fertilizer imports. High energy prices have reduced global fertilizer production, and many farmers around the world are using less, contributing to smaller harvests.

Background: Wheat prices are up nearly 80 percent since July. Regions that rely on Russian and Ukrainian crops are dealing with particularly high commodity prices, like Germany, where food costs are driving record inflation.

Stakes: China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of wheat, and its nervousness about its own stocks could ripple through the global supply chain. A poor harvest could further increase global food prices, compounding hunger and poverty.

State of the war:


Tensions have risen in New Delhi neighborhoods where sectarian violence unfolded last week.Atul Loke for The New York Times

Rising religious violence in India

Analysts, activists and former civil servants fear that widespread communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims will continue growing, pushing India into a cycle of violence and instability.

When conflicts have spilled into violence in recent months, the authorities enacted swift, one-sided punishments on Muslims. They sent bulldozers into their neighborhoods, demolishing shops and homes, circumventing legal processes and skipping full investigations.

“I fear that we are in the stage of perpetual violence,” said Asim Ali, a researcher who has studied the rise of Hindu nationalism.

Analysis: National right-wing groups have called for violence against Muslims, emboldened by the silence of the country’s top leaders. They are increasingly turning religious occasions into political events, promoting a Hindu-first vision of India that relegates minorities to second-class citizens.

History: In the past, such clashes, while often deadlier, were usually set off by a local issue and were contained to a single area. Now, thanks to social media, the right-wing provocations inspire local groups across the country.

Sedition: India’s top court paused the use of a colonial-era sedition law that has been used to quash dissent. Hundreds of people jailed under the law became eligible for bail.



World News
Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, has long been critical of the Chinese government for its restrictions on religion and free expression in Hong Kong.Isaac Lawrence/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
U.S. News
  • Deaths from overdoses increased nearly 15 percent in 2021, according to preliminary C.D.C. data.
  • An initial investigation found burial sites at more than 50 former boarding schools for Indigenous children, accounting for over 500 deaths. The number is expected to grow.
What Else Is Happening
A Morning Read
The parking lot at this Israeli beach is the latest arena for the battle over the country’s founding story.Amit Elkayam for The New York Times

Israeli soldiers had long denied killing prisoners after capturing an Arab seaside town in 1948, days after Israel’s creation. A new documentary provides fresh evidence, reopening a debate about the country’s foundational story.

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Eurovision 2022, by the numbers

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event. It is also almost certainly the kitschiest. This year’s competition takes place this week in Turin, Italy, where nations are going head-to-head for the (non-monetary) glory of a win, as well as an official winner’s trophy shaped like a 1950s microphone. Here’s what you need to know.

66: Years since the contest started in 1956. (It was initially a friendly competition between public service television broadcasters.)

40: Countries participating in this year’s contest. In an unusually political move, the organizers have barred Russia from competing “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine.”

1974: Year in which Abba won the competition, with the song “Waterloo.”

183 million: Total viewers of last year’s contest.

Three: Maximum length in minutes for each song, according to the contest’s rules.

33,938: Population of the smallest country competing — San Marino, a landlocked enclave within Italy.

2016: The last time Ukraine won, with the song “1944” by Jamala. The country, represented by the rap and folk band Kalush Orchestra, is this year’s favorite to win. —Natasha Frost


What to Cook
Sang An for The New York Times

Dollop homemade salsa on these huevos rancheros.

What to Watch

“Tehran,” an Israeli spy series on Apple TV+, has all the cliffhangers you could ever need.

What to Read

In “How the World Really Works,” a polymathic scientist examines ruling systems, denounces easy solutions and makes the case for uncertainty.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: 52 cards (four letters).

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Marc Lacey, an incoming managing editor, sat down with “The Cornell Sun,” his college paper.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion providers in the U.S.

You can reach Amelia and the team at


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