Your Wednesday Briefing
A projectile hitting the main radio and television tower in Kyiv on Tuesday.Credit…Carlos Barria/Reuters
Russian forces batter Ukraine
On the sixth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military campaign appeared to have shifted toward targeting civilian areas with increasingly powerful weapons. The U.N. said that at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, had been killed so far. Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has accused Russia of war crimes.
In Kyiv, a projectile hit the main radio and television tower, killing five and taking television stations off the air, Ukrainian officials said. The blast occurred near the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, drawing criticism from Israel. Separately, videos showed extensive damage to at least two large apartment buildings in the town of Borodyanka, about 35 miles northwest of the capital.
While there were no reports of major attacks at night, earlier in the day an explosion devastated a large administrative building in the main square in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing seven people, according to Ukrainian officials. More than 660,000 people have fled Ukraine, with many traveling to Moldova and Poland.
Analysis: As with the Spanish Civil War, the conscience of Europe has stirred, sending taboos tumbling. Swedish, Finnish and Swiss neutrality has evaporated. Even postwar Germany’s refusal to prioritize military spending or send arms to conflict zones has ended.
In other news from the conflict:
Exxon Mobil said it would end its involvement in a large oil and natural gas project in Russia, following in the footsteps of its competitors BP and Shell.
With most of the Western world uniting against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Britain is trying to plug loopholes for Russian oligarchs to which it has long turned a blind eye.
About 100 diplomats, many from Western countries, walked out of a speech by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Geneva on Tuesday in protest over his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
President Biden’s State of the Union address
In the first State of the Union address of his presidency, President Biden sought to convince glum Americans that the country is making impressive progress containing the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding the economy.
Biden made a fresh pitch for his logjammed social spending programs, including expanded child care, elder care, prekindergarten education, climate change initiatives and prescription-drug price cuts. And he vowed to take action to curb inflation, saying, “My top priority is getting prices under control.”
Biden also vowed to make Russia “pay a price” for invading Ukraine. He laid out a range of responses, including the increased deployment of U.S. troops in Europe and an aggressive Justice Department effort to seize the assets of Putin-allied oligarchs and government officials. Biden committed to providing Ukraine with enough weaponry, supplies and humanitarian assistance to “fight for freedom.”
Discord: The chamber erupted at one point when Biden was paying tribute to American troops in flag-draped coffins. “You put them in — 13 of them!” Representative Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, shouted, referring to service members killed during the withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. Biden did not respond.
Waning vaccine protection among adolescents
Five months after immunization, two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appeared to offer virtually no defense against moderate illness caused by the Omicron variant among adolescents ages 12 to 17, according to data published yesterday. Booster shots drastically increased the protection.
Protection against severe illness was harder to parse. There were too few hospitalizations among younger children to draw firm conclusions. Among adolescents who had been vaccinated more than 150 days earlier, effectiveness against severe illness remained strong, at 70 percent or higher.
The findings follow data showing that two doses offered little protection against infection with the Omicron variant in children ages 5 to 11 after one month. The vaccine has been shown to offer diminishing protection against infection even in adults, particularly against the Omicron variant.
Here are live updates and the latest maps of the pandemic.
In other virus news:
Queen Elizabeth II, 95, resumed her duties nine days after testing positive.
A new study found that several common rapid antigen tests work well for Omicron.
Scientists found a new coronavirus variant in deer, along with signs of possible deer-to-person transmission. There is no evidence that the variant poses an elevated risk to people.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
Israel’s high court said that four Palestinian families could stay in their homes in East Jerusalem for now. The eviction threat had helped lead to last year’s war in Gaza.
Two weeks after catching fire, a ship carrying thousands of luxury cars has sunk in the Atlantic.
A mosque dispute in a conservative city in South Korea has forced a debate among some over immigration and multiculturalism.
News From the U.S.
Texas began investigating parents of transgender children for “child abuse” over gender-affirming medical treatments.
Texas also held its first primary election of 2022 yesterday, viewed by many as a test of Donald Trump’s hold on the G.O.P., and kicking off the 2022 midterms. Here are highlights.
Major League Baseball postponed the start of the season after failing to reach a labor deal with the players’ union.
What Else Is Happening
Virgil Abloh’s last show at Off-White paid homage to the late designer’s legacy.
Research shows that survivors of domestic violence can sustain brain damage similar to football players. But those injuries are almost never diagnosed.
Frustrated that governments aren’t heeding their urgent advice, some climate scientists are threatening to go on strike.
A Morning Read
Over the past several years, more than 50 fertility doctors in the U.S. have been accused of fraud in connection with donating sperm, according to legal experts and observers. Often, that fraud was discovered only as a result of DNA tests taken by their offspring.
“When I look at the mirror, for better or worse, I see the doctor’s face,” David Berry, above, said after learning about his paternal origins. “That’s liberating on one hand. On the other hand, it’s a tough pill to swallow, because look at what he did.”
Michelle McNally transformed photography at The Times, elevating its visuals to the level of its written reporting. “She walked into newsrooms where photography had taken a back seat for too long, and forced it into the fore,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor, said. McNally has died at 66.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A T. Rex royal family
The Tyrannosaurus rex is the world’s most studied dinosaur, but a new paper argues for a radical reclassification into three separate species: Tyrannosaurus rex (meaning king), Tyrannosaurus imperator (emperor) and Tyrannosaurus regina (queen).
“This paper is likely to rock the paleo community, and the public that is so used to good old T. rex,” said Gregory Paul, an independent paleontologist and paleoartist and an author of the paper.
Tyrannosaur experts largely disagree with the findings. One called the evidence cited in the paper “vanishingly weak.” Another removed himself as a co-author before the paper moved to publication. And curators at museums with specimens of this well-known dinosaur say they aren’t going to rename anything based on the proposal.
But naming dinosaur species is a subjective process, and each new species description is more an argument than a declaration. To separate them in living animals, scientists generally rely on anatomy as well as genetic evidence. In the absence of prehistoric DNA, paleontologists rely on the anatomical details of fossilized bone — which can be found at different growth stages or varying levels of completeness.
Read more about the T. Rex family tree.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
This riff on the Greek dish youvarlakia avgolemono is bright yet hearty.
What to Watch
Our critic finds things to enjoy in the new “Batman” movie.
What to Read
In her new book, “In Love,” Amy Bloom writes about loving her husband and helping him end his life after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Before’s opposite (five letters).
Here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. And thank you to those who wrote to let me know that the yesterday’s subject line said it was Monday. It was Tuesday, and today is (still!) Wednesday.
See you next time. — Natasha
P.S. Four editors are joining the Flex Desk, a critical part of this newsletter’s journey to you.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about citizens in Ukraine.
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].