Ukraine, South Korea, ‘The Godfather’: your Wednesday evening briefing
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Good evening. Here is the last Wednesday at the end of the day.
1. The death, destruction and deprivation of war is piling up in Ukraine.
An apparent Russian attack on a maternity ward in Mariupol destroyed buildings, injuring patients and staff, according to videos verified by The Times. Across the city, hundreds of casualties have been reported, all escape routes have been blocked for days, and people are chopping down trees to make fires for warmth and cooking.
Russian forces besiege the southern city of about half a million people with overwhelming and indiscriminate firepower. It is one of the most intense fights of the war.
Efforts to broker a ceasefire to give civilians a chance to escape have repeatedly failed. Over the past three days, the prospect of relief reaching the city through a “humanitarian corridor” has collapsed under a hail of mortar and artillery fire.
A Times photograph of a mother and her two children killed in a mortar attack in the town of Irpin summed up the indiscriminate slaughter by the Russian military. We have spoken to the families of the victims.
American and European brands disrupting their operations in Russia are concerned about reputational damage and are also responding to the practical challenges imposed by sanctions and the ruble’s rapid decline.
In other developments:
3. Democrats abruptly scrapped a $15.6 billion emergency response package intended to help fund the Biden administration’s new Covid strategy.
The package was part of a sprawling $1.5 trillion spending bill intended to fund the entire federal government. Republicans refused to commit new money to fighting the pandemic, and Democrats disagreed on how to fund it. The funding was set to expire Friday without congressional action, and Democrats had little time to try to negotiate an alternative.
The measure would have paid for antivirals, vaccines and testing, research and development to counter any future variants, plus around $5 billion for a global vaccination effort.
A vote on the bill is on track for later tonight.
4. Former prosecutor Yoon Suk-yeol narrowly won Presidential election in South Korea, putting the conservatives back in power.
Ruling party candidate Lee Jae-myung conceded in the early hours. With 98% of the votes counted Thursday morning local time, Yoon was 0.8 percentage points ahead of Lee. The race between the two men had been so plagued with scandal and belittlement that it was called a contest between “inappreciable”.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on President Moon Jae-in, who has pushed for engagement with North Korea. Washington and South Korea’s neighbors have been watching the election closely as Yoon could upset Moon’s policy on North Korea.
5. New research shows how redlining has contributed to inequality that persist decades later in American cities.
Urban neighborhoods that were flagged as risky investments by federal authorities because residents were people of color tended to have higher levels of harmful air pollution nearly a century later, the study found. The findings add to a body of evidence that reveals how racist policies of the past have contributed to inequality across the United States today.
The study looked at neighborhoods in 202 cities and their exposure to two pollutants harmful to human health – nitrogen dioxide and the dangerous microscopic particles known as PM 2.5 – and found that the trends were remarkably consistent across the country.
6. Wreckage of the Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s ship, has been found 106 years after being crushed by pack ice during an expedition to Antarctica.
A team of adventurers and researchers located the wreckage at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, east of the Antarctic Peninsula, using underwater drones. Battling sea ice and freezing temperatures, the team found Endurance, a 144-foot three-masted wooden ship, about four miles south of the ship’s last known location.
The team had been searching for more than two weeks in a 150 square mile area around where the ship sank in 1915, which spawned one of the greatest survival stories in the annals of exploration – and one of the most wanted wrecks. .
7. A used van. One bedroom apartment. Only one steak. They all cost more.
Inflation is now inescapable, and what it affects is deeply personal. Nearly nine in 10 Americans say they have noticed rising prices around them, according to a survey conducted in mid-February for The Upshot. “Hard not to call it a price hike,” one person said. “Everything rose with no end in sight.”
Many of the 2,200 people surveyed said price increases for basic necessities like petrol, milk, ground beef and bread caught their attention. The survey results clearly show why consumers remain gloomy, even in times of rapid job and economic growth.
8. Fueled by punk belief (and snacks), the Linda Lindas are perhaps America’s most exciting teenage punk band.
Nearly a year after bursting with a viral video of their song “Racist, Sexist Boy” being performed at a public library, the all-girl, school-age band is rapidly mounting the new feminist wing of rock. Channeling the Muffs, Go-Gos and bravado of ’70s punk, the band rips songs about identity, friendship, power and cats on their upcoming debut album, “Growing Up.”
The four band members, ages 11 to 17, are Los Angeles natives of Chinese, Mexican and Salvadoran descent. Three of them are cousins and one is a lifelong friend. Their parents are all artists, writers or designers themselves.
9. “I’m here because I did ‘The Godfather’.”
Fifty years after Al Pacino shot to fame as Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, we spoke to the actor about his breakthrough role and the weight of his legacy.
Mario Puzo, who wrote “The Godfather,” said the highly observed portrayals of the novel came from his meticulous research. Federal wiretaps and mob insiders suggest that many real-life sages looked to the 1972 film for inspiration.
“Leave the gun, take the cannoli”: Seven fans – critics, actors, directors – gave us their favorite lines. How well do you know the movie? Answer our questionnaire.
10. And finally, let the sleeping sharks lie.
Some birds sleep with half their brains resting at a time. There are bats that spend almost every hour of their day dozing. And now there is evidence that some sharks – which have a reputation for being always on the move – also sleep in times of calm.
There’s a catch: checkers, a small nocturnal shark native to New Zealand, keep their eyes peeled for many. The new study also supports the hypothesis that one of the reasons organisms may have evolved sleep is as a tool for energy conservation.