Good morning. We’re covering Antony Blinken’s trip to the Middle East and an attack on an air base in Pakistan.
Plus, the rise of space junk.
|Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center right, in Baghdad yesterday.Pool photo by Jonathan Ernst|
Blinken visits the Middle East
The U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, made an unannounced visit yesterday to Baghdad, showing support for Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani, and sending a message to Iran about the Biden administration’s commitment to defending its personnel.
Blinken’s trip through the Middle East is aimed at containing the fallout from Israel’s war against Hamas and at deterring Iran and its proxies — particularly Hezbollah, the armed group that controls areas of Lebanon along Israel’s northern border — from entering the conflict. These maps show where border clashes have intensified.
Officials said that the Biden administration has sent messages to Iran and Hezbollah through regional partners that the U.S. would be prepared to intervene militarily against them if they launched attacks against Israel.
Earlier in the day, Blinken traveled to the Israeli-occupied West Bank to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority. Blinken and Abbas discussed efforts to restore calm in the West Bank, where strikes by the Israeli military and deadly attacks by armed Israeli settlers have surged since the Oct. 7 assault.
In the U.S.: Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Ohio, Utah, California and Washington, D.C., to denounce the scale of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
|The fighter jets on the air base escaped harm.Caren Firouz/Reuters|
Militants attacked an air base in Pakistan
Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, an obscure militant group, claimed responsibility for the assault. The claim could not immediately be verified. The attempt to breach the air base occurred a day after 14 soldiers traveling in a convoy were ambushed and killed in Baluchistan Province, in the southwest.
Context: Extremist violence in Pakistan has increased substantially since the 2021 Taliban takeover of neighboring Afghanistan, and defense analysts have noted a worrying trend of increased assaults on military targets.
|Janet Kristine Guevarra had to save more than a year’s wages to pay for an annulment.Ezra Acayan for The New York Times|
A new push for divorce in the Philippines
Thousands of people are trapped in long-dead marriages in the Philippines, the only country in the world, other than the Vatican, where divorce remains illegal. Steep legal fees and mounds of paperwork make annulment practically impossible for many.
Background: The approach is a departure from the previous strategy of sharing personal stories in the hope of winning lawmakers’ sympathy. Now, activists are using science and statistics to present the long-term effects that keeping divorce illegal has on millions of abused women.
|Officials cautioned that the death toll was likely to rise.Krishna Adhikari/Associated Press|
|A soldier near Kreminna in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.Tyler Hicks/The New York Times|
|Arun Paul founded Priya Living.Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times|
When Arun Paul’s parents were in their 70s, he began searching for a duplex in his neighborhood in California so they could live with another older couple and be among other members of their Indian community. His small project expanded into Priya Living, an elder living company that centers Indian culture through its activities, design and food.
Lives lived: Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi-British scientist who played a leading role in pressing rich nations to compensate poorer ones for the effects of climate change, died at 71.
|Illustration by Pablo Delcan|
Earth’s orbital environment is no longer the realm of innovation and discovery. It’s a resource up for grabs, and it is being grabbed with impunity.
The number of satellites in orbit has multiplied more than tenfold since 1998, to approximately 8,500. Satellite megaconstellations traverse a sky littered with human-made space debris moving at 17,500 miles per hour.
|Christopher Simpson for The New York Times|
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Jonathan