Friday Briefing

In a forceful State of the Union address last night President Biden criticized former President Donald Trump, an electoral opponent he did not mention by name, as a dire threat to democracy and stability in the world.

The speech before Congress also served as a campaign kickoff, as Biden leveraged what was expected to be one of his largest televised audiences this year to make a case that he was fit enough for another four years in office.

Biden, who often spoke in a raised voice, sparred with Republican hecklers and discussed his record and plans for the future, focusing on issues like the economy; immigration; abortion; the costs of prescription drugs and housing; and the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. (Here is a transcript.)

But the battle for democracy was a recurring theme. Biden assailed Trump, talking about how his “predecessor” seemed dangerously supportive of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and had lied that Biden stole the 2020 election, among other things.

“You can’t love your country only when you win,” Biden said.

The Response: Senator Katie Britt of Alabama delivered the Republican response. Trump responded to Biden’s address in real time on his social media site, asserting that “Putin only invaded Ukraine, because he has no respect for Biden.”

The U.S. military will build a floating pier off the Gazan coast to ferry hundreds of truckloads of aid to desperate civilians in the enclave, officials said yesterday.

The pier, which the White House said would be constructed with help from other countries in the region, could take a number of weeks to put in place and could involve hundreds or thousands of U.S. troops on ships just off shore.

Much of the Gaza Strip is on the precipice of famine, with the United Nations warning that more than 570,000 Gazans are facing starvation, and the amount of aid entering the enclave is far below what it was before the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israel.

The pier would not solve the central problem of distributing aid inside Gaza where intense fighting and Israeli bombing continue in the south, and lawlessness in the north has grown so bad that aid groups have suspended operations there. Last week, as desperate Gazans in the north surrounded an aid convoy, more than 100 died, some shot by Israeli troops and some trampled.

Two years into their wartime alliance, the bond between the U.S. and Ukraine appears to be fraying.

The Pentagon is exasperated that Ukraine often ignores its military advice. Ukraine is increasingly disheartened that American political paralysis has led to ammunition shortages on the front.

But neither the Americans nor the Ukrainians are heading for the exit: U.S. intelligence and weaponry remain crucial for Ukrainian forces, and Ukraine is hollowing out the army of Russia, one of the U.S.’s biggest foes.

Related: Ukrainians have turned to crowdfunding, auctions and raffles to support their military.

Sometimes caring for threatened species means finding a way to transport manatees a thousand miles.

The manatees, three orphaned calves who were sent to the Cincinnati Zoo to grow, were lifted by winch, placed in padded containers and flown by cargo plane back to Florida, where they were released among other wild manatees.


The worst Premier League team ever?: What the numbers say about Sheffield United.

A dip in form: What’s going wrong for Carlos Alcaraz?

Formula 1 Academy returns: New drivers, more F1 involvement and races on TV.

The Academy Awards, which begin on Sunday night in Los Angeles, are the biggest night in American film. For a preview, I spoke with Kyle Buchanan, who covers the film industry for The Times.

What should we know about the awards this year?

Kyle: The Oscars always dream of a situation where the biggest films of the year are also the most nominated, and they got their wish twice over this year.

They have “Oppenheimer” facing off against “Barbie,” the two titanic blockbusters from last year that were so big that we coined the “Barbenheimer” portmanteau to honor them.

Is the industry as obsessed with that showdown as the rest of us?

They’re absolutely obsessed and heartened by it. Those films brought a lot of people back into theaters. They reminded them why they care about movies.

So to have the ultimate awards body also show such interest in them, is all to the good. There’s a match up in sensibilities between the populist lean of the multiplex crowd and the sometimes more esoteric bent of the Academy.

I mean, you even had people like Hillary Clinton weighing in on the Barbie snubs. So suffice it to say, if people were ever going to tune in to the Oscars and feel personally invested, it appears to be this year.

Got any predictions for us?

You wouldn’t lose much if you voted “Oppenheimer” nearly across the board.

That said, the major race with the most drama is best actress: Emma Stone from “Poor Things” and Lily Gladstone from “Killers of the Flower Moon” have been strong all season, trading off major industry prizes. That one could absolutely go either way.

For more, read Kyle’s predictions, and deconstruct key scenes from all 10 of the best picture nominees.

That’s it for this week. Thank you for reading, and see you on Monday. — Dan

P.S. During two months covering South America, Annie Correal was “thinking for audio” while reporting.

You can reach Dan and the team at

Source link