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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Tuesday.
1. Ukrainians are mounting a spirited defense of Kyiv.
The military’s general staff reported that its forces had retaken Makariv, a suburb of the capital, reflecting Ukrainian efforts to keep Russian forces from encircling Kyiv. After 26 days of fighting, a senior U.S. defense official said that the Russians had not been able to advance beyond nine miles northwest of Kyiv or 18 miles from the city’s east.
The Pentagon assessed that Russia’s “combat power” in Ukraine — comprising more than 150,000 troops — has dipped below 90 percent of its original force for the first time, reflecting the losses Russian troops have suffered at the hands of Ukrainian soldiers.
One of the biggest surprises of the war has been Russia’s failure to defeat the Ukrainian Air Force. Many military analysts had expected a quick destruction. Instead, Top Gun-style aerial dogfights, rare in modern warfare, are now raging above the country.
2. A Russian court sentenced Aleksei Navalny to nine more years in prison.
The new punishment on the imprisoned opposition leader came at a time when the war in Ukraine has made him even more of a liability for President Vladimir Putin. Navalny has been urging Russians to protest the invasion of Ukraine through letters from jail that his lawyers post on social media.
4. Identity cards, cellphones and purses — but no survivors — have been found at the site of the China Eastern plane crash that occurred earlier this week.
The Boeing 737 passenger plane carrying 132 people crashed in mountainous southern China. Hundreds of emergency workers are combing the hillsides, but hope for survivors is dwindling.
Workers are also trying to find the plane’s so-called black boxes, which are crucial to knowing what caused the crash. The plane’s unusual trajectory — a steady flight that turned sharply downward — suggests many possible causes, including foul play or catastrophic equipment failure, though experts emphasized that it was too early to do more than speculate.
5. Dozens of Disney employees walked off their jobs today.
The workers were protesting the company’s handling of the proposed law that has come to be known as the “Don’t Say Gay bill,” which would restrict classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity. Disney initially kept quiet about the legislation to avoid controversy, but that approach backfired, and an internal outcry has stretched into its third week.
The bill is one of the biggest squalls for Disney in decades, and one of the highest-profile examples yet of a shift in corporate culture: A socially conscious generation of workers is demanding that employers speak out on social and political issues.
In other media news, BuzzFeed News’s editor in chief and two other top editors are departing the company ahead of newsroom cuts.
6. Alcohol-related deaths in the U.S., including those from liver disease and accidents, spiked during the coronavirus pandemic’s first year, a new study shows.
Alcohol-related deaths rose to 99,017 in 2020, up from 78,927 the previous year, a 25 percent increase. That compares with 3.6 percent average annual increases between 1999 and 2019. In adults under 65, such deaths slightly outnumbered those from Covid in 2020.
The rise points to factors like soaring stress levels during the pandemic and decreased access to general medical treatment.
In other virus news:
7. If someone chides you, “OK, doomer!” check your climate change attitudes.
The catchphrase refers to a growing group of activists, many young, who are pushing back against the inevitability of climate doom.
The activists feel that a relentless focus on terrible climate news may be causing paralysis and depression, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and helping to preserve reliance on consumerism and fossil fuels. On TikTok and Instagram, on blogs and podcasts, they’re spreading alternative climate news narratives and giving practical information to avert the crisis.
In other climate news, Fridays for Future, a global youth movement, is organizing worldwide protests this Friday, with “climate reparations and justice” as its rallying cry.
8. Skeleton DNA could rewrite the early history of the First Americans.
DNA analysis of 20 well-preserved skeletons from Belize, dating as far back as 9,600 years, could change ideas about how agricultural technology, particularly maize cultivation, spread in the Americas. The findings are based on discovery of a rare buried cache of skeletons under two dry rock shelters in the Maya region, where bones usually degrade quickly in tropical conditions.
The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture in this part of Central America was once ascribed to a more general diffusion of knowledge, about crops and practices. But the new data reveals that a previously unknown mass migration from the south, more than 5,600 years ago, might have helped give intensive maize farming its start in the region.
9. Emily Nunn reinvented herself with salad.
After a long career in food and feature writing, Nunn found she couldn’t get hired by a mainstream publication after the pandemic began. So she leveraged her modest Twitter following into The Department of Salad, a brash and witty newsletter about leafy greens, and began a crusade against ageism in hiring.
“Look, I’m not the world’s biggest salad fan,” Nunn said, but she is now publishing the kind of food writing that she missed. “I don’t want to be going to the parties in Brooklyn and writing about amping up the flavor of everything,” she added. “I love it, but I can’t do that. I had to make something of my own.”
In other food news, an algorithm change has shaken food businesses’ faith in Instagram.
10. And finally, the return of the landline phone.
The kitchen staple and a bedside companion has been all but replaced by its wireless cousin; in June 2021, just over 30 percent of Americans had one in their homes.
But a wave of nostalgia, perhaps fanned by the pandemic, may alter that trajectory slightly. Etsy reports a 45 percent increase in searches for Y2K and ’90s phones and a 26 percent increase in searches for rotary phones in 2021 compared with 2020.
One motivation, said a manager at a company selling older phones, is that it’s “a return to basics.” He added that with a corded phone you’re “stuck within a three-foot radius of the base. You can have a real conversation without being distracted.”
Have a focused evening!
Sean Culligan compiled photos for this briefing.