Your Thursday Briefing: Russia Seizes Kherson

We’re covering Russian attacks ramping up and a crackdown on a New Zealand Covid protest.

Russian forces swept into the strategically important city of Kherson on Wednesday, the mayor said, in what could be a significant moment in the battle for the country’s south. Explosions struck the capital, Kyiv, and Russian troops continued to lay siege to Kharkiv. Here are the latest updates, and maps that show Russia’s advance on Kyiv.

As the situation worsens, the E.U. is expected to grant blanket protection for all Ukrainian refugees. More than 870,000 people have already fled since the Russian incursion began on Thursday, the U.N. said.

In central Kharkiv, rocket strikes hit a government building on Wednesday, and the city’s food supplies were running low. Russian forces took control of Europe’s largest nuclear energy plant, the Zaporizhzhya plant, according to the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Some 15,000 people are sheltering in Kyiv’s subway.

Sanctions: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the U.S. would “freeze and seize” assets of Russian elites. U.K. lawmakers pressed for sanctions on Roman Abramovich, the longtime owner of Chelsea’s soccer club, who said in a statement that he had decided to sell the team.

For more than three weeks, hundreds of protesters have taken over the center of Wellington, occupying the area in front of Parliament and issuing violent threats to public figures in a battle against the country’s vaccine mandates.

The police this week began an aggressive clampdown, dismantling tents, toilets, a kitchen and other camp infrastructure, and urging the demonstrators to leave. Eventually, most did — but not without a fight.

In sometimes bloody clashes, protesters wielded fire extinguishers, paint-filled projectiles, homemade plywood shields and pitchforks. Some lobbed cobblestones at officers. Others piled detritus onto gas-fueled fires, including one that caused an explosion at a playground.

At least 60 people were arrested, and three officers were taken to hospitals.

Context: The country’s highly restrictive pandemic approach appears to have alienated a small group of New Zealanders, many of whom were left without work after refusing to abide by vaccine mandates.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


The agreement, made at the U.N. Environment Assembly, commits nations to work on a broad and legally binding treaty that would improve recycling, clean up plastic waste and curb plastics production. That could put measures like a ban on single-use plastics on the table. Plastics caused 4.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.

Some nations sought to narrow the plan. Japan initially submitted a competing resolution, and India urged that any action needed to be on a “voluntary basis.”

Supporters have said that a global plastics treaty would be the most important environmental accord since the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Negotiators are set to meet this year for rounds of talks to hammer out the details, hoping for a deal by 2024.

Data: By one measure, the total mass of human-made materials ever produced is now greater than the mass of all land and marine animals combined. Only 9 percent has ever been recycled, the U.N. estimated.

Background: The agreement drew heavily from a joint proposal by Peru and Rwanda, reflecting developing nations’ position at the forefront of efforts to tackle plastic pollution.

Asia Pacific

“When I look at the mirror, for better or worse, I see the doctor’s face,” David Berry 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.”

The HBO series “Euphoria” — a hyperstylized take on teenage life that’s full of drugs, sex and despair — aired its second-season finale on Sunday. The sophomore season cemented the show’s phenomenon status, as viewership swelled and fans turned to TikTok and Twitter to dissect each episode.

With dramatic plot twists and dreamy visuals, “Euphoria” is a show that’s built to be clipped and shared online. Fans care about the fantastical outfits and the maximalist soundtrack that zigzags from Steely Dan to Tupac, as well as the glitter-soaked makeup — so much so that the show’s head makeup artist is starting her own line.

Every generation gets a defining teen show, and “Euphoria” shares DNA with predecessors like “Skins” and “Beverly Hills, 90210,” both of which outraged parents. “Euphoria,” while still resembling a soap opera, leans into darker territory with more graphic depictions of addiction, abusive relationships, violence and nudity.

For many fans, discomfort is core to the viewing experience. “You’re just anxious for an hour straight,” one 21-year-old fan told The Times. “When you’re watching a horror movie or listening to something that’s super high-adrenaline, you keep listening because you want to know what’s going to happen. You just can’t look away.”

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