Tuesday Briefing: Israel’s Top Court Rejects Move to Limit It


Israel’s Supreme Court narrowly struck down a law proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was meant to limit the court’s own powers. The momentous ruling, which was decided by a majority of eight judges to seven, could ignite a constitutional crisis.

Here’s the latest.

Members of Netanyahu’s Likud Party said the Supreme Court’s decision was “in opposition to the nation’s desire for unity, especially in a time of war.” They slammed the court for ruling on the issue while Israeli soldiers were “fighting and endangering themselves in battle.”

The decision is likely to rekindle the grave domestic crisis that began a year ago over the right-wing government’s judicial overhaul plan, which led to mass protests that brought the country to a near standstill at times. It heralds a potential showdown between the court and the ruling coalition that could fundamentally reshape Israeli democracy.

Background: The law would have barred judges from using the legal concept of “reasonableness” to overrule decisions made by lawmakers and ministers. In a country that has one house of Parliament, no formal written constitution and a largely ceremonial president, many people view the Supreme Court as the only bulwark against government power. The government argued that “reasonableness” was ill-defined and subjective.

In Gaza:

Israel announced that it would begin withdrawing several thousand troops from Gaza, at least temporarily. The military emphasized that the move did not indicate any compromise of Israel’s intention to continue fighting, or heeding American requests to scale back.

The fighting remains intense. Half of Gaza’s population of about 2.2 million is at risk of starvation and 90 percent say that they regularly go without food for a whole day, according to the U.N.

Western Japan was hit by an earthquake that set off evacuation orders in several prefectures, trapped people under collapsed buildings and disrupted electricity for tens of thousands in Ishikawa Prefecture, the quake’s epicenter, officials and Japan’s public broadcaster said.

Here’s the latest.

The quake struck the Noto Peninsula at around 4:10 p.m. and had a magnitude of 7.6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 7.5 magnitude. Here’s a map of the areas that were affected.

Officials issued tsunami warnings, then downgraded them to advisories, but they warned that aftershocks and tsunamis could continue for up to a week.

In the growing espionage war between the U.S. and China, some American federal employees with ties to Asia, even distant ones, say they are being unfairly scrutinized. They say U.S. counterintelligence and security officers wrongly regard them as potential spies and bar them from jobs in foreign policy and national security.

The paranoia weakens the U.S., they say, by preventing qualified employees — including many Asian American ones — from serving in diplomatic missions, intelligence units and other critical posts where their fluent language skills or cultural background would be useful.

In the 1950s, followers of an Afro-Brazilian religion, Umbanda, began gathering on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on New Year’s Eve to make offerings to Iemanjá, a sea goddess of motherhood and fertility. After the area began hosting a fireworks show in the 1980s, the event became one of the world’s largest New Year’s celebrations, attracting more than two million revelers each year.

But it remains one of the holiest moments of the year for devotees of Afro-Brazilian religions that have roots in slavery, worship an array of deities and have long faced prejudice in Brazil.

In 2024, thousands of copyrighted works published in 1928 are entering the public domain after their 95-year term expires, including Tigger, Peter Pan and the original, black-and-white version of Mickey Mouse. This means that those characters and stories can be remade without permission. So if you prefer your childhood favorites to be never-changing, well … you might want to stop reading.

In February, Tigger is set to join his old friend in a slasher film — the sequel to “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” in which that lovable bear becomes a sledgehammer-wielding maniac. We could also get new versions of Peter Pan, the song “Mack the Knife” or the D.H. Lawrence novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”

Here’s the full list of everything hitting the public domain this year.

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