Your Friday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Good evening. Here is the latest at the end of Friday.

1. A missile strike tore through a crowded train station in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 50 people and injuring nearly 100.

Ukrainian officials blamed Russia for the attack and Moscow denied responsibility.

The station in the city of Kramatorsk was packed with people rushing to safer areas in western Ukraine ahead of a planned major push by Russian forces in the east. The strike laid bare the growing civilian toll of the fighting, much of which was inflicted by Russian forces who targeted civilians and infrastructure.

2. Confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson at the Supreme Court changed the course of American life, President Biden said.

The number of cases is relatively low since the decline of the Omicron surge, but the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant is contributing to a new wave of infections in some places, particularly in the northeast.

In other virus news, the flu and Covid-19 have never gripped the nation simultaneously. Experts speculate that our immune defenses may have been on high alert, which may help explain why there never was a “double epidemic”. Here’s what you need to know at each stage of a possible infection with BA.2, or any other variant.

4. Jurors acquitted two men of conspiring to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

The jury said it was deadlocked on charges against two other men, and the judge declared a mistrial in their cases. All in all, it was a significant defeat for federal prosecutors in one of the most high-profile domestic terrorism cases in decades.

The four men were accused of organizing a far-right plot to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, from her vacation home in 2020. Defense attorneys argued there was no such plot and that their clients had been drawn into conversations moderated by FBI informants and undercover agents.

A former co-defendant who pleaded guilty has testified he hoped to set off a chain of events that would prevent Biden from being elected president and possibly foment a civil war.

6. A new study links hundreds of thousands of deaths to air pollution in tropical cities.

Researchers from University College London used satellite data to estimate concentrations of several harmful pollutants in 46 tropical cities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Researchers have found that most pollution is due to human sources like traffic and fuel burning and that some 180,000 premature deaths in major tropical cities in 2018 alone were attributable to increased exposure to pollutants.

Many more could die without effective pollution reduction policies, the researchers said.

In other environmental newsrising gas prices are leading to a surge in web searches for electric vehicles just as Elon Musk announced that his company, Tesla, would start producing his much-delayed electric pickup truck, the Cybertruck, the next year.

7. Opening of the cellars of the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The two sisters of Basquiat, the artist who died aged 27 in 1988, have spent the past five years poring over their brother’s paintings, drawings, photographs, VHS films, collection of African sculptures, toys and memorabilia to organize a huge exhibition opening tomorrow in Manhattan.

The exhibition features more than 200 works of art and artifacts from the artist’s estate, most of which have never been exhibited before, and reflects on his personal development at a time when the market value of his works continues to soar and where its themes of race and personal identity particularly resonate.

In other art news, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says Will Smith will be banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years for hitting comedian Chris Rock at the ceremony last month, and that he mishandled the situation during of television broadcasting.

8. A tourist trip to space.

SpaceX and NASA conducted the first private launch to the International Space Station, carrying three paying passengers and a retired NASA astronaut from Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the company Axiom Space.

They flew in a SpaceX Crew Dragon, the same capsule used by NASA astronauts, and will soon dock at the space station. The mission, known as Axiom-1, is NASA’s first foray into space tourism aboard the orbital outpost.

The space tourists, who each pay their share, will spend 10 days in orbit, including 8 days on board the station.

9. Tiger Woods returned to the Masters.

Woods entered today’s second round at one under par and tied for 10th. But today’s competition, played at Augusta National Golf Club, a topographical challenge, placed greater demands on Woods and his surgically reconstructed leg as he fell sharply in the standings.

“The walk is not easy; it’s hard, he says. “It’s going to be difficult for the rest of my life.” But the cheers followed him along the way.

In the meantime, if you’ve seen golf shoes on the streets, it’s because one of the world’s most understated sports has gotten a makeover thanks to streetwear and sneaker culture.

10. And finally, a crossword king is crowned.

Competitive crossword solvers, 474 of them, eagerly filled a hotel ballroom filled with rows of tables, chairs and yellow folders to prevent cheating.

For some, the American Crossword Tournament in Stamford, Connecticut, was a kind of family reunion, complete with hugs and catching up after a few years of pandemic-fueled isolation.

It culminated in a race to complete the championship puzzle, “Wyna Takes It All,” by Wyna Liu, a puzzle builder and associate editor of The New York Times. Tyler Hinman won for the seventh time, by just seconds, taking home the grand prize of $5,000.

Have a scholarly weekend.

Sarah Hughes compiled photos for this briefing.

Your evening briefing is posted at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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