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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Wednesday.
Russia continued its punishing attacks on Ukraine, sending mixed messages just a day after inconclusive peace talks.
Local officials reported new attacks on the outskirts of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, two areas where Russia had said it would sharply reduce combat operations.
Declassified US intelligence has found that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, is being misinformed about the invasion by aides fearful of his reaction. American officials said that there appeared to be growing tension between Putin and the Ministry of Defense, and that Putin seemed to be unaware that the military had been using conscripts in Ukraine or that drafted soldiers had been killed in action.
In eastern Ukraine, many residents have fled, and those who remain hear the shelling and wonder: Where will the next missile land?
In a speech, Biden also highlighted a new website, Covid.gov, aimed at helping Americans navigate access to testing, treatment, vaccines and masks. Afterward, he rolled up his sleeve and received a second booster shot, a day after federal authorities approved an additional dose for people 50 and over.
The administration’s push comes as several states and localities are shuttering their mass testing and vaccine sites as cases in the US have fallen swiftly in recent weeks. But some experts worry that the BA.2 version of the Omicron variant could cause another surge.
In other virus news, a large clinical trial found that the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, which surged in popularity as an alternative covid treatment, showed no sign of alleviating the disease.
Collins, a centrist from Maine who is often a key vote on Supreme Court clashes, said she was swayed in a second meeting with Jackson yesterday that Jackson would not bend the law to her preferences. Collins opposed the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.
Her decision will allow Democrats to claim some degree of bipartisanship around the historic nomination, though it remains unclear whether any other Republicans will join Collins.
4. The US will stop using a public health order to turn away migrants seeking asylum.
The Biden administration is expected to announce plans this week to lift the pandemic-related restriction, which has been in place since 2020. Officials expect that the change, which will happen in May, will result in the arrival of even more migrants at the southwest border, where the number intercepted by border officials has already broken records in recent months.
Some Congressional Democrats have pushed the CDC to lift the rule, which health experts say does little to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Others fear it could fuel Republican attacks leading up to the midterm elections in November.
5. Bruce Willis is stepping away from acting after an aphasia diagnosis.
Willis, the prolific action-movie star, was recently diagnosed with the disorder – which affects the brain’s language center and the ability to understand or express speech – according to Demi Moore, his ex-wife.
“To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” Moore wrote. “As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”
Willis, who turned 67 this month, is most famous for his role as the clever, rough-around-the-edges New York City cop John McClane in the “Die Hard” movie series. Recently, Willis has starred in an onslaught of B-movie productions, with six films currently in postproduction.
6. Fleeing Myanmar’s brutal military juntatens of thousands of young city dwellers have taken up arms to fight for democracy.
Leaving their college courses, video games and jobs behind, this group of Generation Z warriors has fought in the jungle and thrown off-balance a military notorious for war crimes. Far from consolidating its hold over the country, Myanmar’s army, known as the Tatmadaw, has been forced to fight on dozens of fronts.
Times journalists recently visited a rainforest encampment in eastern Myanmar, where about 3,000 members of one newly minted militia are living in bamboo or tarpaulin shelters and engaging in battle nearly every day. Today, more than a year after Myanmar’s military seized control in a coup, the conflict continues to escalate.
7. Keep getting lost? Maybe you grew up on the grid.
People who grow up in predictable, gridlike cities like Chicago or New York seem to struggle to navigate as easily as those who come from more rural areas or more intricate cities, researchers reported in a paper published this morning in Nature. Much like language, navigation is a skill that appears to be most malleable when people’s brains are developing, they found.
The authors – who used a custom video game to test the navigational abilities of hundreds of thousands of subjects – hope the findings eventually lead to navigation-based tests to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have developed virtual navigation tests to evaluate cognitive decline, but they can interpret the results only if they know what other factors influence people’s way-finding abilities.
In other science news, the Hubble Space Telescope spotted the oldest and farthest star known.
8. It’s not uncommon to see tennis stars smash their rackets. But is it getting out of hand?
Tennis officials are asking this after recent close calls. At the Miami Open this week, Jenson Brooksby, the rising American star, angrily hurled his racket, which skittered into the feet of a ball person. Last week, Nick Kyrgios, the temperamental Australian, narrowly missed hitting a ball boy in the face when he bounced his racket off the ground.
Both men were fined tens of thousands of dollars, but far less than they earned at the event, prompting dilemmas over enforcement. “Do we have to wait until someone starts bleeding?” Patrick McEnroe, the former pro and tennis commentator, said.
9. Long relegated to back shelves, LGBTQ romance is now a booming genre.
For decades, romance novels featuring LGBTQ characters were generally self-published or put out by small niche presses, and often shelved separately from other romances in bookstores.
Now they are widely popular, published by industry giants, prominently displayed at Walmart and advertised on New York City subway platforms. About 850,000 LGBTQ romance novels sold at traditional retail outlets last year, a 740 percent increase from five years ago.
One author, Lana Popovic Harper, said she spent years writing for “jars of pennies.” But her recent book, about a romance between witches, drew bids from seven publishers and quickly became a best seller – echoing a cultural shift where gay protagonists are more mainstream.
10. And finally, if you think kale is “so 2010,” you’re not growing the right varieties.
The leafy vegetable has fallen from the headlines. And if you walk past it in the grocery store – which is likely to carry Brassica oleracea, or European kale – you may not even realize its breadth of shapes, sizes and tastes.
There’s the English heirloom Madeley, with extra-large leaves; Dazzling Blue Lacinato, with blue-green leaves and vivid purple stems; and the positively frilly Bear Necessities variety, which has been called the seaweed of kale.
But it is the extra-tender, milder-tasting leaves of the Brassica napus kales – which are especially good for salads – that organic farmer Andrew Still calls “the best of the best.”
Have a healthy night.
Angela Jimenez compiled photos for this briefing.
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