Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Flooding along more than 50 miles of the Dnipro River after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine has led to vast devastation in a region ravaged and depopulated by war.

Water supplies have been contaminated, crops have been drowned and thousands of people have been forced out of their ruined homes by the flood. The reservoir that many Ukrainian farmers need to irrigate their fields and that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant uses to cool its radioactive fuel has also been drastically lowered. Here are maps of the flooding.

Local officials on the Russian-controlled riverbank said that almost all of the town of Oleshky was flooded. Residents pleaded for help in an online chat group, searching for missing loved ones and seeking assistance as floodwaters rose. Ukrainian officials charge that Russian forces blew up the dam to hinder a Ukrainian offensive, though little evidence about what happened has emerged so far.

First person: “We were getting used to the shelling, but I’ve never seen a situation like this,” said Larisa Kharchenko, a retired nurse in Kherson, which was occupied by Russian forces for months last year. “It just keeps coming.”

Smoke from Canadian wildfires rapidly darkened the skies of New York City and sent the air quality index soaring past 400 yesterday, well into the “hazardous” range. The numbers were the worst since U.S. authorities began recording air-quality measurements in 1999. Warnings were also in effect across a wide portion of the Northeast and Midwest.

The smoke forced people indoors and led to the cancellations of outdoor events and the delays of some flights because of low visibility. Gov. Kathy Hochul called the worsening air quality in New York “an emergency crisis,” warning that it could last several days. “People have to prepare for this over the long haul,” she said.

Canada, where hundreds of fires were burning out of control as of early yesterday, was also in for more haze. Parts of Quebec and Ontario were under a smog warning, and experts warned that the air in Toronto and elsewhere was likely to worsen.

Risks: The poor air quality could have widespread effects among healthy people and serious ones for those with respiratory conditions. Such high readings are typical in smoggy megacities like Jakarta or New Delhi but rare in New York, where decades of state and federal laws have helped to reduce emissions.


Deadly fighting between two military factions has swept across Sudan to the western region of Darfur, an area already blighted by decades of genocidal violence. In mid-May, at least 280 people were killed in two days after gunmen backed by paramilitary forces launched a frenzied attack on the city of El Geneina.

Displaced people, humanitarian workers, U.N. officials and analysts say that the region is now besieged by levels of violence unlike any in recent years. More than 370,000 people have fled Darfur in the past seven weeks, seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

“The situation is catastrophic in parts of Darfur,” said Toby Harward, the coordinator in Darfur for the U.N. refugee agency. “Its people are living in a dystopian nightmare where there is no law and order.”

Negotiations: Truce agreements have failed to end the fighting, and peace talks in Saudi Arabia were formally suspended last Thursday.

It’s never too late to travel with your best friend. Eleanor Hamby, 81, and Dr. Sandra Hazelip, 82, who have been referred to as “the TikTok traveling grannies,” have voyaged from the icy shores of Antarctica to the rocky majesty of the Grand Canyon — in 80 days.

Hazelip offered some advice to those dreaming of adventure: “Get up out of your easy chair,” she said. “Step out of your comfort zone. Make some plans and live.”

Andrew Bellucci, a New York pizza visionary who tasted the highs of slice stardom and the lows of federal prison, has died at 59.

The battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf: Money won. Morality was always second.

How to stop soccer’s most unstoppable player: What Inter Milan might need to do in the Champions League final on Saturday to keep Erling Haaland quiet.

From The Times: The soccer star Lionel Messi confirmed that he had declined an offer to play in Saudi Arabia and instead planned to sign a contract with Inter Miami.

When King Saul said, “Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman,” he was effectively using the Old Testament version of the well-known “you S.O.B.” In “Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare used a similar barb: “Villain, I have done thy mother.”

Deb Amlen unearthed those tidbits and many more in her exploration of the history of insults. She found that, over thousands of years, insults haven’t really evolved: They’re still highly personal remarks about a person’s status, appearance, sexual prowess or courage — or lack thereof.

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