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Ukraine, Donald Trump, Wordle: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

By |2022-02-23T19:34:45-05:00February 23rd, 2022|Breonna Taylor|

Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.(Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.) Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Wednesday.Military trucks and personnel carriers were loaded to the train car outside Taganrog, Russia, today.The New York Times1. Russian troops are in place for an attack on Ukraine, the Pentagon said in its most dire assessment yet. Of the 190,000 Russian troops and separatist forces in or near Ukraine, the Pentagon said that 80 percent of them are in combat-ready positions and that a full-scale attack was most likely imminent.“They have uncoiled and are ready to go,” a senior Defense Department official said. He added that it was still up to President Vladimir Putin to give the final order.The leaders of the separatist regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, have appeared to give Putin cause for that military assault: The Kremlin said Putin received an appeal for “help in repelling the aggression of the armed forces and formations of Ukraine” though Ukrainian officials say there has been no such aggression, and none have been planned.Ukrainians braced for all-out war as officials declared a 30-day state of emergency and mobilized military reservists. Government websites, including that of the Foreign Ministry, were brought down by a hack. E.U. sanctions will target Putin’s inner circle and President Biden announced new sanctions against Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The Biden administration is also preparing a ban on American technology exports.Sanofi and GSK’s Covid vaccine received billions of dollars from Operation Warp Speed. Eric Piermont/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images2. A new, two-dose Covid vaccine showed 100 percent efficacy against severe disease, and may be an effective booster for other shots, its makers said. The vaccine, which was made by the European companies Sanofi and GSK, is a conventional inoculation and is not based on mRNA. It received billions of dollars for development from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine accelerator. The companies said they would seek authorization for the vaccine from European and U.S. regulators.In other virus news:U.S. deaths during pregnancy or shortly after spiked in the pandemic’s first year, especially among Black and Hispanic women, a report said.The doctor expected to be Florida’s next surgeon general has helped bolster Gov. Ron DeSantis’s hands-off approach to the virus.Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg last year after voting on election day in Harlem.Anna Watts for The New York Times3. The lawyers leading the Manhattan district attorney’s inquiry into Donald Trump abruptly resigned, throwing the future of the inquiry into doubt. The prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, submitted their resignations after the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with a case against Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.Without Bragg’s commitment to move forward, the prosecutors essentially paused their investigation into whether Trump inflated the value of his assets to obtain favorable loan terms from banks. The pause coincides with an escalation of an inquiry by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, whose office is examining some of the same conduct by Trump.Separately, Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, is in talks with the Jan. 6 House committee about cooperating with the panel.Left to right: Justice Leondra R. Kruger, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Judge J. Michelle Childs.Cayce Clifford for The New York Times, Erin Schaff/The New York Times, David Walter Banks for The New York Times4. The White House said President Biden was on track to decide on a Supreme Court nominee by next week. Biden has interviewed at least three candidates to fill the seat vacated by Justice Stephen Breyer. He spoke with Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Leondra Kruger of the California Supreme Court; and J. Michelle Childs, a Federal District Court judge in South Carolina.Biden is now under pressure to announce his pick, who he has promised will be a Black woman, somewhere between a rapidly devolving diplomatic effort in Ukraine and plans to deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday.Former police officer Brett Hankison is accused of recklessly endangering Breonna Taylor’s neighbors.Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press5. The only trial to emerge from the police raid that killed Breonna Taylor began today. The case centers not on an officer who shot her, but rather on Brett Hankison, a former police detective who is facing three charges of wanton endangerment after the authorities said he fired “blindly” into Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Ky., endangering her neighbors. The state’s attorney general did not pursue charges against either of the two officers who shot and killed Taylor in March 2020.During opening statements, the state said it planned to show that Hankison acted with “extreme indifference to human life” that night. The defense described Hankison as a veteran police officer who responded appropriately to what he perceived as a threat. In Minnesota, jury deliberation began in the trial of three police officers who failed to intervene as their colleague, Derek Chauvin, slowly killed George Floyd.A woman was struck by a subway at the Times Square station in January.Jeenah Moon for The New York Times6. New York City will test platform barriers at three subway stations amid an outcry over safety. The move is a reversal for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which had long resisted calls for such barriers, describing them as impractical, expensive and incompatible with an 104-year-old subway system. It came more than a month after a woman was shoved to her death at the Times Square station, where one of the barriers will be installed.A spate of attacks across the subway system over the holiday weekend underscored the difficulty of rooting out random violence in the system. Yesterday was the first day of a plan to remove homeless people who shelter on the city’s subway. Some platforms and trains had fewer people sleeping there than normal, but there were still many people taking shelter on the subway.Foresters worked to contain a fire in a pine forest in India in 2018.Ashwini Bhatia/Associated Press7. “The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” a U.N. report on wildfires warned. As climate change intensifies, worsening heat and dryness will cause devastating wildfires to surge in the coming decades, climate scientists said. The scientific assessment is the first by the U.N. Environment Program to evaluate wildfire risks worldwide.The report, which was produced by more than 50 researchers from six continents, estimated that the risk worldwide of highly devastating fires could increase by up to 57 percent by the end of the century, primarily because of climate change. The risks will not be distributed equally: Some regions are more likely to see increased fire activity, while others may experience less.A wedding scene in “The Godfather” was intended to be overly bright in contrast with interior scenes.Paramount Pictures8. After 50 years, Francis Ford Coppola still isn’t finished with “The Godfather.” For the landmark anniversary, the director, Paramount and his colleagues at American Zoetrope have produced a restored version of the 1972 film. This edition was created with higher-quality sources of the film, improved digital technology and some 4,000 hours spent repairing stains, tears and other flaws. The updated film aims to be as vivid — and shadowy — as it was in 1972.Reflecting on “The Godfather” brings back the pain of its fraught production and the pride of its runaway success. “As a filmmaker, I didn’t really know how to make ‘The Godfather,’” Coppola, now 82, said. “I learned how to make ‘The Godfather’ making it.”Beanie Feldstein takes on the role of Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl”.OK McCausland for The New York Times9. “It’s so in my bones.” After nearly six decades and many false starts, the musical “Funny Girl” is returning to Broadway, with Beanie Feldstein taking on the role that made Barbra Streisand a star. Feldstein is determined to honor Streisand while shaping her own version of Fanny Brice, the comic pioneer. The show opens on March 26.Looking ahead to other spring premieres on Broadway, these five revivals of American plays offer glimpses into the world in which they first emerged — and into ours. And there is plenty of Shakespeare to go around. For opera lovers, here’s a look at the Met’s new offerings.Clay Hickson10. And finally, one game, five letters, six tries. Wordle is more than a game or a craze — it’s become a daily ritual for millions. Each guess is precious in the deceptively straightforward game, which The Times acquired last month. (No, we did not make it harder.) The challenge has set off much debate about strategy, and a cottage industry of sites has even popped up to offer tips. One popular strategy is to start with a vowel-heavy word, like ARISE, SUAVE or ATONE. But not everyone is convinced that vowels are the way to go. We talked to the actress J. Smith-Cameron, who plays Gerri Kellman on “Succession,” Monica Lewinsky, an English teacher and others about how they approach the game. ADIEU! Eve Edelheit

Omicron, Colorado, Betty White: Your Weekend Briefing

By |2022-01-02T07:22:36-05:00January 2nd, 2022|Uncategorized|

Here’s what you need to know about the week’s top stories.(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.Washington residents were tested for Covid-19 last week.Kenny Holston for The New York Times1. New Year, new uncertainty.As 2021 closed out, Omicron drove coronavirus cases to record highs, upended air travel and left staffing holes at hospitals. The highly contagious variant is still racing across the country, and teachers, parents and workplaces are bracing for the impact. Many wonder whether life will ever be normal again.The U.S. is averaging more than 386,000 cases a day, likely a vast undercount. Hospitalizations are growing at a much slower rate, but the death rate is falling. Puerto Rico is facing a 4,600-percent increase in cases in recent weeks.Scientists say that Omicron may peak in the U.S. in mid-January. New estimates suggest that the country’s cases could peak by Jan. 9 at around 2.5 million cases per week, though that number may go as high as 5.4 million. Still, the enormous numbers of people getting infected could greatly strain hospitals, especially in places with lower vaccination rates.A vaccination site in East New York.Anna Watts for The New York Times2. Despite the dizzying pace of cases, there was a bit of good news from the latest scientific reports.People infected with Omicron were about half as likely to be hospitalized as those with the Delta variant, according to a report from British health officials, and they were only one-third as likely to need emergency care.A laboratory study from South African scientists suggested that people who have recovered from an Omicron infection might be able to repel infections from the Delta variant.Several studies have offered a possible explanation for Omicron’s milder effects: It often concentrates in the nose, throat and windpipe rather than damaging the lungs, as previous variants did.The remnants of a home after the Marshall fire and a snowstorm in Boulder County, Colo.Erin Schaff/The New York Times3. First came the firestorm, and then came the frozen pipes.Two days after the most damaging wildfire in Colorado’s history, residents outside of Boulder confronted nearly a foot of snow and single-digit temperatures. But the desperately needed snow arrived too late to save as many as 1,000 homes that were destroyed in the blaze. The fire, fueled by hurricane-force wind gusts, roared through parched grasses and into suburban cul-de-sacs, reducing entire neighborhoods to ashes.With thousands of surviving homes still without power and gas on Saturday, the 7-degree temperatures and 10 inches of snow touched off a frantic new battle against the weather and rescue operations. Three people are believed to be missing.Stacey Abrams crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 2020.Michael McCoy/Reuters4. Georgia will be the setting of several fierce political showdowns in 2022.In the governor’s race, Stacey Abrams’s carefully calibrated strategy of bridging the left and center-left wings of the Democratic Party faces a test in her run for governor of Georgia. Those close to her campaign say they expect an extremely close race.As the presumptive Democratic candidate, Abrams could face off against Gov. Brian Kemp, to whom she narrowly lost in 2018, or former Senator David Perdue, who has the backing of Donald Trump. The Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, also faces a Trump-backed candidate.The battle over voting rights will continue to be a focal point. G.O.P. lawmakers are planning another wave of laws that would overhaul state election systems.Yael Geller was misled about a rare condition that her son, Emmanuel, may have had in utero.Casey Steffens for The New York Times5. Silicon Valley offered the wondrous promise to pregnant women that it could detect rare disorders in the fetus. But these prenatal tests are usually wrong, an examination by The Times found.Companies describe the tests as near certain, that a few vials of blood, drawn in the first trimester, can detect serious developmental problems in the DNA of the fetus with remarkable accuracy. The Times found that screenings made by one large test maker, Natera, were incorrect about 85 percent of the time.In just over a decade, the tests have gone from laboratory experiments to an industry that serves more than a third of pregnant women in America. The tests initially looked for Down syndrome and worked very well. But as manufacturers tried to outsell one another, they began offering additional screenings for increasingly rare conditions.New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, was sworn in at a pared-down ceremony in Times Square.Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times6. Eric Adams took office as New York City’s 110th mayor.Not since 2002, when Michael Bloomberg took office after the Sept. 11 attacks, has an incoming mayor confronted such daunting challenges in New York City. Adams, the city’s second Black mayor, faces difficult decisions over how to lead New Yorkers through the next wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and how to confront a struggling economic recovery and high rates of violent crimes.Still, his swearing-in ceremony in Times Square before the ball-drop crowd was jubilant. “Trust me, we’re ready for a major comeback because this is New York,” Adams said.Addressing the problems on Rikers Island will be among Adams’s most pressing concerns. Decades of mismanagement are behind the violence at Rikers, one of America’s most expensive jail complexes.Betty White on the set of the television show "Hot in Cleveland" in 2010.Matt Sayles/Associated Press7. “Why retire from something you love? They’ll retire you fast enough.”In a television career that spanned seven decades, Betty White created some of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, won multiple Emmys, became a game show regular and hosted “Saturday Night Live” when she was 88. She championed equity causes before they became popular and dedicated time to animal welfare. Above all, she was known for her kindness.White died on Friday at 99, just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday. Hollywood stars and seemingly the entire internet paid tribute to her trailblazing career. “The world looks a little different now,” the actor Ryan Reynolds wrote. “She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough.”The number of small urban farms growing mushrooms, like Smallhold’s in New York, is expected to bloom.Chris Maggio for The New York Times8. How will Americans eat in 2022?Food industry leaders say it will be another pragmatic, roll-up-your-sleeves kind of year, shaped by the needs of people working from home.Climate change is top of mind. Mushrooms from small urban farms may replace some animal products. Plant-based chicken is coming, and coming fast. And look for kelp, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To drink: Sweet and colorful cocktails from the 1980s — maybe brewed with hibiscus — are making a comeback. You’ll also most likely see more cannabis-based products. One promises not to lead to “the munchies” but to weight loss. There’s just one problem: the science.The Perseid meteor shower put on a show over the Negev desert in Israel in August.Amir Cohen/Reuters9. Lie back, look up and see what the cosmos has to offer.On any given night, far from the bright city lights, there’s a chance you’ll see a beautiful streak shoot across the sky as a meteor flies overhead. The year starts with the Quadrantid meteor shower, which peaks tonight, and at the end of May we may be able to see a new shower called the Tau Herculids. Here are other showers to keep an eye on.What else can we expect in space in 2022? A lot. NASA plans to crash into an asteroid, and the moon may get a lot of visitors.We also spoke to NASA’s retiring top scientist, Jim Green, about making Mars — and maybe Venus — habitable.As Nicole Kidman put it, “Funny’s hard.”Jody Rogac for The New York Times10. And finally, start off 2022 with a good read.A never-finished hotel that is haunting the southern coast of Spain. Two teenage brothers who have become the best in the world at an old game. How Nicole Kidman learned to love playing Lucille Ball. We handpicked these stories and more for you in The Weekender.Our editors also suggest these eight new books, 15 songs that fell under the radar in 2021 and the new season of “Queer Eye,” which is back on Netflix. And here’s what our culture critics are looking forward to this year.The news quiz returns next week. Here’s the front page of our Sunday paper, the Sunday Review from Opinion and today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.Hope your week is full of new beginnings.David Poller compiled photos for this briefing.Your Weekend Briefing is published Sundays at 6:30 a.m. Eastern.Did a friend forward you the briefing? You can sign up here.What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at [email protected] our full range of Times newsletters here.

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