Your Friday Briefing: MH17 Convictions

A Dutch court delivered its verdict in the shooting down of MH17.Credit…Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

Three guilty of the downing of MH17

A Dutch court sentenced three men to life in prison yesterday in the 2014 case of a passenger jet that was shot down over a separatist region of eastern Ukraine. The men, who have ties to the Russian security services, were tried in absentia. A fourth man was acquitted.

The verdict offered a bare measure of justice for the 298 people killed in the downing of the jet, a Malaysia Airlines flight traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, known as MH17. (Here’s a timeline of the tragedy.)

The trial opened more than two years ago in an attempt to assign responsibility for what had long seemed a crime without punishment. On July 17, 2014, an antiaircraft missile provided to separatist forces by the Russian military shot down MH17.

The war in Ukraine has given the case a new significance. Support for separatists in eastern Ukraine was a key part of Vladimir Putin’s pretext for Russia’s full-scale invasion. The verdict may also set an example for possible prosecutions of Russian crimes during the war.

Russian denial: Russia has repeatedly denied any responsibility, despite extensive evidence. The court said the Russian version of events belonged to the “realm of fantasy.”

Other updates:

  • Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, said that he had been transferred to permanent solitary confinement.

  • The U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was transferred to a penal colony outside Moscow.

  • The Ukrainian military said it was attacking deeper into Russian-held territory. The New York Times reconstructed Ukraine’s attack on a key bridge connecting Russia and Crimea.

A crowd near City Hall in Seoul protested the failures that allowed the crowd crush to happen.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

South Korea’s safety failures

South Korean officials ignored warnings or missed crucial chances to prevent the crowd crush that left 158 people dead last month, a Times analysis found.

The authorities had known for years that Halloween weekends in Itaewon, a popular nightlife district in Seoul, attracted large crowds. The police had warned of possible “crush deaths” in 2020.

This year’s gathering, the first since the end of Covid restrictions, promised to be big. But before 8 p.m. that day, only 11 officers were on duty, according to an opposition lawmaker who reviewed police records. On the same day, 4,700 officers were deployed nearby to monitor tens of thousands of protesters​ frustrated with the president’s leadership.

Understand the Outcomes of the 2022 Midterm Elections

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What we know. It seemed as if the conditions were ripe for a red wave in the 2022 midterms, but in the end Republicans generated no more than a red ripple, leading to an improbable election. Here’s what the results tell us so far:

Biden beat the odds. President Biden had the best midterms of any president in 20 years, avoiding the losses his predecessors endured and maintaining the Democrats’ narrow hold on the Senate, which will provide him with a critical guardrail against a Republican-controlled House.

G.O.P. faces a reckoning. A thin Republican majority in the House appears likely, but a poor midterms showing has the party wrestling with what went wrong: Was it bad candidates, bad messaging or the electoral anchor that appeared to be dragging the G.O.P. down, Donald J. Trump?

Trump under fire. Ignoring Republicans’ concerns that he was to blame for the party’s weak midterms showing, Mr. Trump declared his intention to seek the White House again in 2024. While Mr. Trump is counting on his faithful supporters, he appears to be losing deep-pocketed donors.

Abortion mattered. In the first major election since the fall of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights broke through, as Democrats seized on the issue to hold off a red wave. In all five states where abortion-related questions were on the ballot, voters chose to protect access or reject further limits on it.

Voters rejected election deniers. Every 2020 election denier who sought to become the top election official in a critical battleground state lost at the polls this year. Voters roundly rejected extreme partisans who promised to restrict voting and overhaul the electoral process.

Moderation won. In battleground states and swing districts, voters shunned extremists from the right and the left. Republicans received an especially sweeping rebuke from Americans who made clear they believe that the G.O.P. has become unacceptably extreme.

Desperate calls started coming in at 6:34 p.m. The first call was dismissed as nothing serious, according to a senior official from the National Police Agency. The dispatchers did not follow up closely on subsequent calls.

Finally at 10:42 p.m., more than four hours after the initial report, firefighters reported their first official contact with victims. “We are performing CPR on 15 people but we don’t have enough hands,” one said, according to transcripts.

Details: An estimated 130,000 people were in Itaewon that night. Most of the victims were in their 20s.

Sources: The Times analysis was based on witness accounts, investigators’ findings, parliamentary testimony and official documents released to lawmakers.

Nancy Pelosi speaking on the House floor. Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Nancy Pelosi steps down

Nancy Pelosi, who has led Democrats in the House of Representatives for two decades and is the first woman to serve as speaker, announced yesterday that she would leave the leadership post in January.

Her departure follows election losses that cost Democrats their majority. Republicans will assume control of the House in January with a slender majority, ushering in a divided government in Washington.

Pelosi, 82, announced her plans in a speech on the House floor, saying that “the hour’s come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.” She will remain in Congress, but will not seek the role of minority leader.

What’s next: Pelosi’s announcement set off a shift in the top ranks of Democratic leadership — now dominated by a trio of octogenarians — toward a younger group that has been waiting in the wings. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, 52, is widely regarded as Pelosi’s likeliest successor.


Asia Pacific

TSMC factories in Nanjing, China. Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Taiwanese engineers once flocked to China for lucrative semiconductor jobs. Now, they’re leaving.

  • Naver, a South Korean internet firm, is trying to introduce robots into offices, without making employees uncomfortable.

  • Myanmar’s military junta said it was releasing and expelling a former British ambassador, and three other foreign prisoners, as part of a broad amnesty.

  • A Times analysis of dozens of videos from Chinese cities hit by Covid outbreaks shows how officials have gone to extremes to enforce lockdowns.

Around the World

  • The British government announced tax increases and spending cuts in one of the country’s most austere budgets ever, amid a recession.

  • A murder-conspiracy case in northwestern England tells the story of Britain’s crackdown on gangs, which disproportionately prosecutes and jails Black people, a Times investigation found.

  • Some Iranians who were injured in a crackdown on antigovernment rallies have been forced to flee. Going to the hospital means certain arrest.

The Week in Culture

  • Pakistan reversed its ban on “Joyland,” the country’s 2023 Oscar submission, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The film shows a transgender love story.

  • U.S. lawmakers criticized Ticketmaster, suggesting its struggles to meet the demand for Taylor Swift concert tickets showed signs of a monopoly.

  • World of Warcraft and other U.S. video games will not be offered in China after Jan. 23.

  • Amazon is reviving “Neighbours,” the Australian soap opera, the BBC reports.

A Morning Read

Marie Kondo’s latest book explores what sparks joy in our environments, relationships and daily activities.Credit…Nastassia Brückin

In her new book, Marie Kondo takes tidying to a new level through kurashi, which means lifestyle. “Tidying up means dealing with all the ‘things’ in your life,” Kondo writes. “So, what do you really want to put in order?”


The coastal town of Mananjary, in eastern Madagascar, was battered by cyclone Batsirai in February.Credit…Joao Silva/The New York Times

Madagascar’s climate crisis

As world leaders discuss how to address climate change at the COP27 conference in Egypt, the people of Madagascar are figuring out how to adapt with little means. On a recent reporting trip across the Indian Ocean island, the photographer Joao Silva, the Malagasy journalist Lova Andrianaivomanana and I met people whose lives have been upended and saw the heavy price that many are paying.

We met subsistence farmers living in a camp for climate refugees. On the east coast, where successive cyclones flooded vanilla fields, we met communities who have found new ways to build homes to weather these storms. We visited a village where dozens of babies were born severely malnourished. In the country’s east, months after the storms, health workers at a still roofless district hospital were treating patients in tents. In the hilly capital, Antananarivo, flooding and mudslides are threatening historic buildings.

Madagascar, the fourth poorest country in the world, shows how developing countries are bearing the brunt of climate change. The destruction of forests for farmland or charcoal has only made Madagascar more vulnerable. As a local activist and economist told me, the first way to safeguard against climate change is to invest in communities.

Read the full story on how Madagascar is adapting to climate change. — Lynsey Chutel, Briefings writer based in Johannesburg


Credit…Bobbi Lin for The New York Times

These coconut laddoos take 30 minutes to make.

What to Read

The Leung family worked together to write “The Woks of Life” cookbook.

What to Watch

“In Her Hands” follows one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors as the Taliban returns.


Spend 36 hours in Mexico City.


Handwritten thank-you notes still matter.


Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Syrup flavor (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Enjoy your weekend! — Amelia

P.S. Jane Gross, a Times journalist who in 1975 became the first woman to report from the locker room of a professional basketball team, died last week at 75.

“The Daily” is on the rise of the far right in Israel.

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