Ukraine, New York City, Pets: Your Friday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Friday.

1. Russian forces in Ukraine seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, tightened their noose around the capital and threatened more cities in the south.

The destruction and chaos intensified as the invasion entered its second week. Follow our live updates.

Several large explosions shook Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, today. Thousands of residents, mostly women and children, packed the city’s central train station in a frantic bid to escape, driven by fears that Russian forces were closing in.

Ukraine’s nuclear authority said that Russian forces were now occupying the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the south after an early-morning battle and fire there that raised worldwide alarm. It said that no changes in radiation levels had been observed.

In Russia, the government clamped down harder on news and free speech, blocking access to Facebook and enacting a law to punish anyone spreading “false information” about its Ukraine invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

2. Washington officials are worried that the avalanche of sanctions against Russia will prompt President Vladimir Putin to lash out.

U.S. intelligence officials have told the White House and Congress that Putin tends to double down when cornered. They have described possible reactions including indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities, cyberattacks directed at the U.S. financial system, nuclear threats and moves to take the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Officials are also urgently re-examining Putin’s mental state, trying to determine whether his ambitions and risk-taking behaviors have been affected by two years of Covid isolation.

Separately, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, faced a backlash from his party after he called for Putin to be assassinated. He said that somebody in Russia should “step up to the plate” and “take this guy out.”

3. The February jobs report showed another month of strong gains, with U.S. employers adding 678,000 jobs last month, bringing the unemployment rate down to 3.8 percent.

The increase topped economists’ forecasts for the second month in a row after employers dismissed a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and continued to hire. So far, at least, the labor market recovery has overcome the obstacles: Job openings are high and layoffs are low.

The data was collected before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has shaken global financial markets and spiked energy prices. Analysts say the U.S. is less vulnerable than Europe to the economic effects of crisis, but they warn that prolonged conflict could have unpredictable repercussions.

4. New York City has lifted school mask mandates and most indoor vaccination rules.

Mayor Eric Adams announced today that beginning next week, students in public schools will no longer have to wear masks. Similar moves have been taking place in Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Washington and New Jersey.

Also as of Monday, he said, New Yorkers would not be required to show proof of vaccination to visit the city’s restaurants, gyms and other venues like movie theaters — a measure some health experts have said is being removed too quickly.

5. Florida lawmakers have voted to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill — modeled after a similar ban in Mississippi that the U.S. Supreme Court could soon uphold and, in doing so, upend Roe v. Wade — now heads to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has signaled his support.

The legislation, which includes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, would severely restrict access to the procedure in a state that has served as a refuge for women from across the South. Florida currently allows abortions until 24 weeks, with fewer restrictions than neighboring states.

6. Russian filmmakers and artists face boycotts over the invasion of Ukraine, as cultural institutions grapple with difficult questions of what is appropriate.

The Russian filmmaker Kirill Sokolov, who has family in Ukraine, has denounced the war. But the Glasgow Film Festival dropped his film anyway because it received Russian state funding. The Cannes and Venice Film Festivals are refusing to welcome official Russian delegations or those tied to the government.

Previously, the Metropolitan Opera said that its superstar soprano Anna Netrebko would no longer perform with the company after she refused to distance herself from Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. And the Russian maestro Valery Gergiev, a prominent Putin supporter, was removed from his post as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic.

Elsewhere, the president of the International Paralympic Committee broke protocol on Friday when he denounced Russia during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.

7. An Italian princess from Texas is fighting an inheritance battle in a run-down Roman villa.

Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, 72, has lived multiple lives as a rancher’s daughter, a congressional wife, an infotainment TV correspondent, a real estate agent and more.

Her most recent act is turning out to be far less glamorous: being involved in a grinding legal fight for the Roman villa she shared with her third husband, Prince Nicolò Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi, which features a Caravaggio on the ceiling. An Italian judge, sick of the tit-for-tat lawsuits over Prince Nicolò’s inheritance, has ordered the villa to be sold at auction.

8. Denali in Alaska is one of the toughest mountains in the world. This adaptive athlete climbed it and then skied down.

Vasu Sojitra is on a mission to make the outdoors more accessible and inclusive — starting with some of the globe’s most dangerous peaks.

Sojitra’s right leg was amputated when he was 9 months old because of a blood infection. When he was 10, he saw an amputee in Connecticut with a specialized set of skis and begged his parents for a set. Ever since, he has been climbing and skiing at high elevations.

Sojitra recently completed what is believed to be the first disabled ski descent of Denali. The feat took everything he had, he said: “The amount of effort we all put into being able to be where we’re at — it was super powerful.”

9. Tired of … everything? Here are 19 recipes for when you want to do the bare minimum.

Sometimes, it’s all too much. These recipes are for the days when your survival instinct tells you to order takeout but your body (and bank account) longs for something homemade.

It only takes 10 minutes to make Gyeran bap, a Korean pantry meal of fried eggs stirred into steamed white rice. And just five simple ingredients gets you an Elena Ruz, the Cuban sandwich invented by a socialite. One pot is all you need for pasta with sausage and spinach, and one sheet pan is all is takes for crispy oven bacon and eggs.

10. And finally, quarantined hounds put on pandemic pounds.

Henry, a toy poodle who lives in Chicago, gained nearly two pounds in the past two years. For a formerly seven-pound dog, that’s a lot. And it’s because Henry, like the rest of us, is motivated by food.

He is one of many pets who have gained a significant amount of weight during the coronavirus pandemic. Pet obesity has long been an issue in the U.S., but many pet owners say they have also been spoiling their pets while stuck at home with them.

Unfortunately for dogs, as is true for people, losing weight is tougher than putting it on — so more walks may not be the answer.

Have an indulgent evening.

Sean Culligan compiled photos for this briefing.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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