Friday Briefing


An assassination attempt by a “lone wolf” who fired at least four bullets into Robert Fico, the leader of Slovakia, has put a spotlight on the Central European nation’s troubled politics.

The suspect was promptly arrested on Wednesday and charged with attempted premeditated murder, but the authorities have not named him publicly. Slovakian news outlets, citing police sources, identified him as a 71-year-old retiree with a yen for poetry and protests who the authorities said had acted alone.

Fico, the prime minister, is pushing to overhaul the judiciary to limit the scope of corruption investigations, to reshape the national broadcasting system to purge what the government calls liberal bias and to crack down on foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations. He opposes military aid to Ukraine, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and the E.U.

Context: Slovakian society and political culture are so bitterly divided that the violence has become yet another club with which each side can beat the other, amid what onlookers say is extreme polarization, exacerbated by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

E.U. elections: Calls are growing in Slovakia for political parties to suspend campaigning in the wake of the attack.

Quotable: “We are on the doorstep of a civil war,” the interior minister, Matus Sutaj Estok, said. “The assassination attempt on the prime minister is a confirmation of that.”


NATO allies are inching closer to sending military trainers into Ukraine at the request of Ukrainian officials. The move could draw the U.S. and Europe more directly into the war with Russia.

So far the U.S. has been adamant that it will not put U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine, and it has urged NATO allies not to do so, either. But yesterday, Gen. Charles Brown, a top U.S. military official, said that a NATO deployment of trainers seemed inevitable, even if, for now, such a move would put the trainers at risk. “We’ll get there eventually, over time,” he told reporters.

At the front: Ukraine’s position has worsened as Russia has stepped up attacks, in particular in the northeast. Yesterday, President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the Kharkiv region and acknowledged that the situation there “remains extremely difficult.” “We are strengthening our units,” he added.


Defying international pressure, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, said that the country would send more troops to support its ground invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. More than a million displaced people had been sheltering there, and hundreds of thousands of civilians have already fled in recent days.

Until now, Israeli troops and tanks have made only a limited incursion into eastern Rafah, and on May 7 they seized the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, a vital entry point for aid. The crossing remains shuttered, leaving wounded and ill people who need treatment abroad with no way out, and hundreds of aid trucks piling up in Egypt.

U.S. politics: The House passed a largely symbolic bipartisan bill to rebuke President Biden for pausing an arms shipment to Israel.

For decades, Israel has systematically ignored ultranationalist Jewish violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories. A Times Magazine investigation shows how a radical ideology in Israeli society moved from the fringes to the heart of power.

In a video, the writer Ronen Bergman explains how the failure to stop crimes by Jewish settlers and ultranationalists threatens Israeli democracy. Here are takeaways from the investigation.

Lives Lived: The photojournalist Daniel Kramer planned a one-hour shoot with Bob Dylan. It turned into a 366-day odyssey, producing rare images of Dylan at home, behind the scenes on tour and in the studio. Kramer died at 91.

Changes afoot: Premier League clubs will vote on a proposal to abolish the video assistant referee system.

P.G.A. Championship: How Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and other contenders stack up.

FIFA: A corruption scandal brought changes to soccer. Less than a decade later, the appetite for reform appears to have waned.

Shonda Rhimes’s period costume drama “Bridgerton,” which follows eight siblings as they reckon with relationships in early-19th-century London, is now back for its third season on Netflix. Luke Newton, who plays Colin Bridgerton, above, has stepped up as co-lead, or chief hunk, and Nicola Coughlan was also promoted from supporting player to lead.

For more: With its vision of a Regency England ruled by a Black queen and an anachronistically diverse royal court, Bridgerton is among a spate of films and TV shows reimagining history as a multiracial dream world, our critic writes.

Bake: Celebrate the weekend with a regal strawberry cake.

Read:Henry Henry” retells Shakespeare’s Henry V as the modern story of a gay man grappling with abuse and guilt.



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