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Ukraine, Donald Trump, Beijing Olympics: your Thursday evening briefing


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Good evening. Here is the last Thursday at the end of the day.

1. A dramatic spike in bombing heightens fears that Russia could invoke a pretext to invade Ukraine.

Exchanges of artillery fire along the front line between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatist forces have reached their most intense level in months. The Ukrainian military said the shelling damaged a kindergarten and injured three adult civilians.

Perhaps most ominously, the separatists claimed they had come under fire from Ukrainians – precisely the kind of incident Western officials have warned Russia could try to use to justify military action. Moscow has long invoked what it says is its obligation to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

President Biden has warned that the threat of an attack remains “very high”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN Security Council that Russian ground and air forces “are preparing to launch an attack on Ukraine in the coming days”.

2. The New York Attorney General can question Donald J. Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., in a civil investigation, a judge has ruled.

The investigation by Attorney General Letitia James and a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney are investigating whether Trump improperly inflated the value of his assets to receive favorable loans.

Trump has long made up facts and figures about his wealth. Now, abandoned by his accountants, he is making new claims about his net worth.


3. Omicron’s surge seems to be slowing down in much of the world, but the WHO said it was keeping tabs on a subvariant of Omicron.

New cases worldwide fell 19% from February 7 to February 13 compared to the previous week. But, the agency added, falling testing rates around the world mean the number of cases worldwide may not reflect the true spread of the virus.

The WHO also warned that the Omicron subvariant, BA.2, which scientists say is even more contagious, appeared to be “increasing steadily” and was now the dominant variant in China, India, Pakistan, in Bangladesh and the Philippines.

In the USA:

  • Cancer patients, transplant recipients and others highly vulnerable to Covid feel abandoned as their neighbors and government seek a return to normalcy.


4. A confrontation between protesters and police is looming in Ottawa.

Police forces across Ontario have gathered outside downtown Ottawa in an apparent effort to end protests by truckers who have blocked traffic there for three weeks. Police distributed written notices to protesters, warning them to leave or face penalties. Crews of workers erected chain-link fences around the Parliament building.

“It is high time that these illegal and dangerous activities stop, including here in Ottawa,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Many protesters have vowed to stay put. One said the protest leaders’ instructions were to stay in their trucks, lock the doors and not open them to anyone, including the police.


5. Spotify lured Joe Rogan to a $200 million deal, two initial reports. This made the company a podcasting giant, but controversy ensued.

To propel the music streaming platform into an all-purpose audio juggernaut, executives saw Rogan – a no-holds-barred comedian and sports commentator – as the star he needed. Spotify’s share price jumped 17% the week the deal was announced in 2020.

The move sparked a wave of concern within the company over Rogan’s sometimes-controversial content. Last month, the issue exploded: 270 scientists wrote to Spotify about Covid misinformation on Rogan’s show, and rock icon Neil Young demanded that Spotify remove his music. Today Spotify is facing the kind of cultural storm that has engulfed Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


6. This week we learned that the mega-drought in the American Southwest is the worst in at least 1,200 years – and shows no signs of letting up.

Dry conditions are expected to continue into the spring and beyond, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. A continuation of La Niña, a climate pattern that influences weather patterns around the world, will contribute to what is expected to be above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall over much of the West through May. .

Warmer than normal temperatures are also expected across much of the eastern half of the country over the next three months. Wetter than normal conditions are forecast for the Ohio Valley, and drought is likely to develop in Florida.


7. Kamila Valieva’s hectic week came to an abrupt end.

Figure skating’s first ballerina was expected to lead a Russian sweep of the women’s singles medals. But after reports that she had tested positive for a banned substance several weeks before the Games, that task proved too daunting. Valieva, 15, finished fourth, after a disastrous streak of falls and stumbles.

8. Half a century ago, a presence like Faith Ringgold’s had to fight to exist in the mainstream art world. Now there is a place for it – which she created.

An investigation into the artist’s 40-year career, which takes up three floors of New York’s New Museum, focuses on “not just how to survive as a black person in a racist world, but how, as a woman, to thrive “. in any world,” writes our co-chief art critic Holland Cotter. What once made the 91-year-old Ringgold an outlier now ‘brings her to the fore’.

Also in New York: A historical exhibition of drawings by Jacques-Louis David, the main propagandist of the French Revolution, stages the ultimate confrontation between culture and politics.

9. “I always wanted to prove that I could do all kinds of things.”

Sam Waterston has had a long and varied career, from Shakespeare in the Park to ‘The Newsroom’ and ‘Grace and Frankie’. But he remains best known for “Law & Order”. The actor originally signed on for a single season as District Attorney Jack McCoy. But in 16 seasons, he became synonymous with the show, which was canceled in 2010.

Now he’s back, and so is Waterston – partly as a courtesy to series creator Dick Wolf, partly as a sort of victory lap. “It’s nice to come back and witness what we’ve done,” Waterston said.

Fancy watching a medical drama, spy thriller, or snowy neo-noir? Finland has you covered.


10. And finally, the unmasking of a parasitic wasp.

The tiny iridescent Ormyrus labotus has always looked suspicious for a parasitoid wasp. These wasps lay their eggs on or inside other insects and arthropods, and the larvae eat their way there. But Ormyrus labotus had been observed laying its eggs in more than 65 different species of insects – far more than one or a few.

nytimes Gt

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