Wednesday Briefing: Clashes Escalate on U.S. Campuses

Clashes between the police, university administrators and protesters over the war in Gaza intensified at U.S. universities.

Columbia University in New York said it would expel students who had occupied a school building as part of a pro-Palestinian demonstration early yesterday. The students behind a larger campus encampment said an “autonomous subgroup” had seized the building.

Police officers have made new arrests at schools in California, North Carolina, Georgia and other states. In Virginia, officers used pepper spray at a campus on Monday. At the University of Texas, state troopers in riot gear broke up an encampment and arrested about 50 people.

But there were signs that some protests might be waning. Police officers ended the eight-day occupation of an administration building at a state school in California. And encampments at Yale and the University of Pittsburgh appeared to have been vacated.

In the Middle East: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel once again vowed to invade Rafah, in southern Gaza. The move could undermine efforts to negotiate a cease-fire agreement after nearly seven months of war.

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York fined him $9,000 after he broke an order that barred him from making statements that attacked witnesses and jurors. The judge warned Trump that he could be jailed for further violations.

The ruling marked a new low in relations between the court and Trump, who stands accused of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal involving a porn star, Stormy Daniels. Trump has been at the trial every day, though he has largely been relegated to the sidelines, and has complained in front of cameras about the gag order and the judge.

Already, prosecutors have raised four new potential violations. They weren’t covered by yesterday’s order, but will be discussed at another hearing tomorrow.

Testimony: Daniels’s lawyer described how he struck a deal that bought the silence of another woman, a Playboy model, who had shopped a story of a 10-month affair with Trump.

Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire founder of the giant cryptocurrency exchange Binance, was sentenced to four months in prison yesterday. He pleaded guilty to violating U.S. money-laundering rules.

The sentence was much shorter than the three years that prosecutors had demanded for a man who was once the most powerful figure in the global crypto industry — and a much lighter penalty than other crypto executives have faced since the industry imploded in 2022.

Context: Binance was the world’s largest crypto company, processing as much as two-thirds of all transactions. But it also faced investigations by several U.S. agencies into whether Zhao had broken the law to build his empire.

Eyes on the future: Since pleading guilty, Zhao has already been planning a comeback and networked with other entrepreneurs across the U.S. to set up his next act.

A wealthy businessman has agreed to sell a vast swath of Chile’s wilderness for $63 million. The buyers: a band of activists who have spent years thwarting his efforts to develop the property. They have two years to raise the necessary funds.

The deal is a case study in modern-day conservation. It took a unique confluence of legal, financial and political resources — plus a bit of luck — to protect the lands from relentless development.

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The nominees for the Tony Awards, which honor the top Broadway shows, were announced yesterday. “Hell’s Kitchen,” a semi-autobiographical Alicia Keys musical, and “Stereophonic,” about a group of musicians struggling to record an album, each got 13 nominations and tied for the most nods.

“For theatergoers, this is an exciting time, with so many options,” our theater reporter Michael Paulson said. “There are 35 shows now running, and they’re really varied in terms of style and content. For producers and investors, it’s a bit scarier, because Broadway has just become riskier than ever. So now everyone is watching to see how the new shows fare, and what kind of difference the nominations make.”

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