First Thing: Russian missile barrage knocks out power in Ukraine | US news

Good morning.

Russia has unleashed a missile barrage including the use of hypersonic missiles – that cannot be intercepted – targeting energy infrastructure across Ukraine, in the largest such attack in three weeks.

The Ukrainian president said critical infrastructure and residential buildings in 10 regions had been hit. “The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement.

At least five people were killed in a missile strike on a residential area in the western Lviv region – 440 miles from any military battlefield – according to emergency services. Three buildings were destroyed by fire after the strike, and rescue workers were combing through rubble looking for more possible victims.

A sixth person died during strikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region, its governor said.

  • What did Russia use in the barrage? Ukrainian officials said Moscow had fired six of its Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, an unprecedented number, which Ukraine has no way of shooting down. Russia is believed to have only a few dozen of the missiles, which the president, Vladimir Putin, regularly touts in speeches as a weapon for which Nato has no answer.

  • What else is happening? The Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, confirmed one of the explosions was an attack on a power facility, and that 40% of Kyiv’s residents were without heating. It is currently 4C. “After the missile attack, due to emergency power outages, 40% of the capital’s consumers are currently without heating. Water supply works normally,” he said on Telegram.

Mitch McConnell in hospital after fall in Washington DC

Mitch McConnellPin
Mitch McConnell tripped and fell at a hotel in Kentucky. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, was taken to hospital in Washington DC after he tripped and fell at a hotel.

“This evening, Leader McConnell tripped at a local hotel during a private dinner. He has been admitted to the hospital where he is receiving treatment,” David Popp, the communications director for McConnell, said in a statement.

In 2019 McConnell, who is 81 and a survivor of childhood polio, tripped and fell at his home in Kentucky, fracturing his shoulder. The Senate has been without several members recently because of illness.

The office of Dianne Feinstein, 90, said the senator was taken to hospital last week to be treated for shingles. Senator John Fetterman, 53, who suffered a stroke during his campaign last year, was expected to remain out for some weeks as he received care for clinical depression.

Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump at a LIV golf tournament in Bedminster, New Jersey, last yearPin
Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump sharing a joke at a LIV golf tournament in Bedminster, New Jersey, last year. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

The Fox News host Tucker Carlson told an associate he “hated” Donald Trump “passionately”, new filings in a $1.6bn defamation suit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems revealed.

Even as the filings were reported on Tuesday, Carlson continued to broadcast January 6 security footage in his attempt to cast the deadly attack on Congress as “peaceful chaos” arising from a protest of Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden.

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” Carlson said in a text on 4 January 2021, two days before the riot. He also wrote: “I hate him passionately … What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”

Many observers think the Dominion suit, over the broadcast of lies about electoral fraud by Trump and his allies, could prove seriously costly to Fox News.

Hosts and executives up to and including Rupert Murdoch have been shown to have said Trump was lying, and to have ridiculed surrogates, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, but to have broadcast their claims regardless.

  • What did Fox News really think of Trump and the 2020 election? Even as they went on air to cast doubt about whether the vote went off fairly, many Fox News personalities privately doubted Trump’s claims. “He’s acting like an insane person,” Sean Hannity, one of the network’s best-known personalities, allegedly said of Trump, according to a Dominion court filing.

  • What has Stephen Colbert said about Carlson? “You’d think that once the people gaslighting you on a daily basis have been revealed to be liars – say, in multiple text messages and a $1.6bn court filing by Dominion Voting Systems – they would pump the brakes. But apparently, some people are just addicted to being dicks,” he said.

In other news …

Chaim Topol as Tevye in Fiddler on the RoofPin
Chaim Topol as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. He has died aged 87. Photograph: Cine Text/Sportsphoto/Allstar
  • Chaim Topol, the Israeli actor and singer best known for his performance as Tevye the milkman in Fiddler on the Roof, has died aged 87. Topol, who was widely known by his last name alone, died at home in Israel on Wednesday surrounded by his family, local media reported.

  • A California jury awarded a Black mother and her two daughters more than $8m after they were unreasonably detained by police during a stop for coffee. Police in Castro Valley said they were investigating car break-ins when Aasylei Loggervale and her two daughters were handcuffed in a parking lot.

  • Members of the House and Senate were informed yesterday that hackers may have gained access to their sensitive personal data in a breach of a Washington DC health insurance marketplace. Employees of the lawmakers and their families were also affected.

  • Military members and veterans of the Afghanistan war offered harrowing eyewitness testimony of the chaotic and deadly withdrawal from the country’s longest conflict, during an hours-long congressional hearing yesterday. They also pleaded with Congress to help the Afghan allies left behind.

  • A fresh atmospheric river is expected to bring more weather chaos to California as the state is still digging itself out from heavy snow that left mountain communities buried for weeks. Northern and central California are expected to receive most of the rain, which could cause flash flooding.

Stat of the day: California governor halts $54m contract with Walgreens – ‘We’re done’

Boxes of the drug mifepristone line a shelfPin
‘California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,’ Newsom said in a news release. Photograph: Allen G Breed/AP

The California governor, Gavin Newsom, withdrew a $54m contract with Walgreens yesterday after the pharmacy chain indicated it would not sell an abortion pill by mail in some conservative-led states. Newsom ordered state officials not to renew a contract with Walgreens to buy specialty pharmacy prescription drugs for California’s prison healthcare system, including antiviral and antifungal drugs and medication used for congestive heart failure.

Walgreens has received about $54m from the contract, which expires on 30 April. Newsom’s office said the state would buy the drugs elsewhere. “California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,” Newsom said.

Don’t miss this: Scabby the Rat is an American labor icon. Why are his manufacturers disowning him?

Scabby makes its way down the street in midtown New York City in 2019Pin
Scabby making its way down the street in midtown New York City in 2019. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

In New York – a city poised to hire its first “rat tsar” after rat sightings doubled in the past year – streetside rodents are fairly commonplace. But the rat stationed on a Union Square curb is something of a different beast. This one is roughly 10ft tall, with incisors the size of iPads. Its eyes are bloodshot, its claws extended, and its belly marked with what look like open, oozing sores.

Depending who you ask, its name is Scabby, or just the Rat. He appears beside workers nationwide – at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois over the summer of 2021, at a Philadelphia Starbucks the following July. The rat elicits polarizing opinions (they tend to fall neatly along worker-management lines). But to both sides, Scabby is, as one organizer told NPR in 2021, an “iconic symbol of a labor dispute”.

Climate check: the 10 worst places to live in US for air pollution

Polluted landscapes in the USPin
A Guardian analysis using modelling developed by researchers tracked deadly PM2.5 levels. Photograph: tk

The worst 10 hotspots for fine particle air pollution in the US have been revealed by the Guardian in an analysis. The top spot is not a traffic-clogged metropolis or renowned heavy industry zone but a small town surrounded by farmland and mountains. The findings, based on a model developed by a team of researchers at institutions including the University of Washington, show that, across the contiguous US, the neighborhoods burdened by the worst pollution are overwhelmingly the same places where Black and Hispanic populations live. Race is more of a predictor of air pollution exposure than income level, researchers found. Check your own neighborhood’s air pollution in our interactive tool. And read on for the US’s worst hotspots.

Last Thing: cocaine cat – Cincinnati zoo takes in exotic feline found with drug in system

A Wild African serval after being capturedPin
A wild African serval after being captured. Photograph: Rob Halpin/AP

A wild cat captured earlier this year with cocaine in its system is now living at an Ohio zoo. The African serval known as Amiry was captured in late January after being spotted in a tree in Oakley, a neighborhood in Cincinnati, the local news outlet WLWT5 reported.

“It was sure a sight to see, and after talking to the cat expert, he said we did a great job. And also [we were] pretty lucky because this cat could’ve shredded us apart and killed us,” Troy Taylor, the chief of the Hamilton county, Ohio, dog warden’s office, told WKRC. Medical examiners treating the cat discovered it had been exposed to cocaine, after testing it for narcotics exposure.

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