First Thing: drones hitting Odesa in Ukraine daubed with ‘for the Kremlin’ | US news

Good morning.

There’s been another night of substantial Russian missile attacks and drone attacks on Ukrainian cities, which has become something of a pattern in the last week or so after a period of relative calm. In the aftermath of Russia’s claims that Ukraine targeted the Kremlin with its own drones and tried to assassinate Vladimir Putin, Moscow launched a wave of kamikaze drones mainly targeting Kyiv and Odesa.

While all of the 18 drones launched against the Ukrainian capital were reportedly shot down, three drones landed in the area of a school dormitory building in Odesa, although there were no casualties reported. Tail fragments for two of the drones had “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin” scrawled on them.

Residents of the key southern Ukrainian city of Kherson are stocking up on food and water after another night of heavy Russian shelling and before an announced 56-hour curfew due to begin tomorrow evening.

The violence in Kherson has increased markedly this week, with 23 people killed by Russian strikes in the region yesterday, including in a deadly bombardment of a supermarket that killed eight people.

  • What has Volodymyr Zelenskiy said about the Kremlin attack? He has denied Russian claims that Ukraine was involved in a drone attack on the Kremlin that Russia says was intended to kill Vladimir Putin. Zelenskiy said on Wednesday: “We don’t attack Putin or Moscow, we fight on our territory and defend our towns and cities. We leave it to the tribunal.”

  • What else is happening? Zelenskiy will have a meeting at the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague during a visit to the Netherlands today, the court has said, Reuters reports.

Republicans reject abortion bans as ‘campaign-enders’ in warning to party

South Carolina state senator Sandy SennPin
South Carolina state senator Sandy Senn, a Republican, makes a last-minute argument before the senate passes an abortion ban in September 2022. Photograph: Sam Wolfe/Reuters

In one state, Republican women filibustered to block a near-total abortion ban introduced by their own party. In another, a Republican co-sponsor of a six-week abortion ban subsequently tanked his own bill. On the federal level, a Republican congresswoman warns that the GOP’s abortion stance could meaning “losing huge” in 2024.

As states continue to bring in tighter restrictions on abortion after the fall of Roe v Wade, internal divisions within the Republican party on the issue are starting to show. Divisions most clearly started to show last week in the deep red states of South Carolina and Nebraska, where Republicans roundly rejected further attempts to curtail abortion rights.

In South Carolina on Thursday, all five female senators – three of them Republican – led a filibuster that ultimately blocked a bill that would have banned abortion from conception with very few exceptions.

That was the third time a near-total ban on abortion has failed in the Republican-dominated senate in South Carolina since Roe was overturned last summer.

  • What did Sandy Senn say? “We told them: ‘Don’t take us down this path again for the third time in six months – you will regret it.’ And so we made them regret it,” said the state senator of the male Republican senators continuously pushing abortion restrictions in her state – including in an earlier attempt this year to make abortion a crime punishable by the death penalty. Abortions remain legal until 22 weeks in the state, which has become a safe haven for abortion in a region with increasingly limited options.

Outrage simmers in New York after the killing of Jordan Neely on a subway train

Protesters march through Manhattan in protest over the death of Jordan NeelyPin
Protesters march through Manhattan in protest over the death of Jordan Neely. Photograph: Jake Offenhartz/AP

A protest on a downtown Manhattan subway platform over the death of a man apparently having a mental health episode onboard a train turned into an angry confrontation over policing and social welfare priorities in New York City yesterday.

Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old unhoused man who at one time had earned a living in the city as a skilled Michael Jackson impersonator performing in Times Square, died on Monday afternoon after a confrontation with a fellow passenger.

According to police officials and video, Neely had been harassing passengers on the subway and making threats when he was placed in a minutes-long headlock by a 24-year-old former US marine.

By the time the train pulled into Broadway-Lafayette, a stop that borders the SoHo and Nolita neighborhoods, Neely was no longer conscious. He was later pronounced dead in hospital. The city’s medical examiner is investigating the cause of death.

  • What was Neely doing before being held down? Juan Alberto Vazquez, a reporter who captured the incident, told the New York Post that Neely was screaming “in an aggressive manner” and complained of hunger and thirst but had not physically attacked anyone.

  • Was the marine the only one to touch him? No. Vazquez said the 24-year-old man approached Neely after he threw his jacket to the ground. When the video starts, Neely is already on the subway car’s floor, with the man’s left arm around Neely’s neck. A second man holds his arms and a third holds down his shoulder. After briefly trying to free himself, he eventually goes limp.

In other news …

Family of environmental activist Manuel Paez Teran Pin
Belkis Teran, Joel Paez, Daniel Paez and Pedro Teran say officials’ behavior in the investigation of the death of Manuel Paez Terán is ‘a huge mystery’. Photograph: Alyssa Pointer/Reuters
  • The inquiry into the death of Manuel Paez Terán has been marred by contradictory information released by officials. The family have been frustrated by the city, county and state agencies that are involved who have continually delayed, obfuscated about or denied releasing information about the events of 18 January when police killed the environmental activist.

  • A school district in Texas has canceled a planned field trip to see a theater production of James and the Giant Peach after parents complained about the play’s cross-gender casting. Spring Branch independent school district’s decision comes amid a growing wave of anti-trans rhetoric and bills.

  • A judge in New York has thrown out Donald Trump’s 2021 lawsuit accusing New York Times reporters of an “insidious plot” to obtain his tax records. The former president has been ordered to pay all attorneys’ fees and legal expenses that the Times and its reporters incurred.

  • The world’s largest grain trader, Cargill, is facing a first legal challenge in the United States over its alleged failure to remove deforestation and human rights abuses from its soya supply chain in Brazil. ClientEarth, an environmental law organisation, filed the formal complaint today.

  • When an Airbnb host in Virginia realized that a painting in one of her properties had been stolen and replaced, the internet came together to investigate the unlikely mystery. The host Amy Corbett posted about the mystery on TikTok. She only had 60 followers but her video went viral. Thousands presented theories about “the Airbnb bandit”.

Stat of the day: Shell makes record first-quarter profits of nearly $10bn

Shell logoPin
Shell will now offer shareholders $4bn in share buybacks after its record quarterly profit. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters

Royal Dutch Shell made record first-quarter profits of more than $9.6bn in the first three months of this year, even as oil and gas prices tumbled from last year’s highs. The better-than-expected adjusted earnings topped its previous first-quarter profit record set last year at $9.1bn for the same period, and were well above the $7.96bn predicted by industry analysts. Europe’s biggest oil and gas company will now offer shareholders $4bn in share buybacks over the next three months. The Anglo-Dutch energy company said profits rose thanks to its trading teams which were able to mitigate against the falling market price for oil and gas. Global oil prices averaged $81.7 a barrel in the first quarter of this year, according to Shell, down from $102.2 a barrel in the same period a year earlier, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ignited a surge in oil and gas markets.

Don’t miss this: The dazzling, troubling history of California superbloom tourism

People walk amid wildflowers blooming in Carrizo Plain national monument near Santa Margarita, CaliforniaPin
People walk amid wildflowers blooming in Carrizo Plain national monument near Santa Margarita, California. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

This year’s California wildflower superbloom is a historic phenomenon, brought on by an unprecedented wet winter. Miles of golden-orange poppies, purple desert sand-verbena and pink filaree are visible from space. This time of year it seems that everywhere from remote corners of the desert to drab highway medians are bursting with color. The spectacle draws thousands of visitors every spring, who flock to enjoy the view and take photos of the unique natural spectacle – as people have done for generations. But the crowds also can make their own paths through sensitive areas, causing damage and threatening the future of the phenomenon. While debate over how to balance appreciating the superbloom without overwhelming it has intensified in recent years, it reflects concerns about society’s creep into wild places that date back more than a century, particularly during periods of intense growth in the Los Angeles area.

Climate check: New York takes big step toward renewable energy in ‘historic’ climate win

Evening skyline in New YorkPin
New York is preparing to scale up renewable energy production. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

New York state has passed legislation that will scale up the state’s renewable energy production and signals a major step toward moving utilities out of private hands to become publicly owned. The bill, included in the state’s new budget, will require the state’s public power provider to generate all of its electricity from clean energy by 2030. It also allows the public utility to build and own renewables while phasing out fossil fuels. “It’s a historic win for the climate and for clean jobs,” said Lee Ziesche, an organizer with Public Power New York, a coalition that has been fighting to pass the legislation for the past four years. “It’ll create a model of public power for the whole country, and it’s really showing that our energy should be a public good.”

Last Thing: America’s anglophiles gear up for coronation day – ‘I have a corgi dress’

Members of the Nashville British Car Club Pin
Members of the Nashville British Car Club frequently celebrate royal events. They are basing their coronation party on last’s year’s celebration of the queen’s platinum jubilee, which included Norm and Carolyn Follis in festive attire. Photograph: Ilona Gerou/courtesy of Nashville British Car Club

As she prepares to host a bingo night for Charles III’s coronation, DeeDee Cupcake, a Los Angeles emcee and burlesque host, has one thing checked off her list: the perfect outfit. “I have a corgi dress with corgis all over it,” the 37-year-old said. Cupcake, whose legal name is Diana Hicks, has been busy researching coronation facts for her bingo game and royal trivia competition at the Mayflower, a British-American social club in North Hollywood. Her favorite fact so far, gleaned from the royal website: “They’re serving a brand-new flavor of quiche!”

For Charles III, his coronation, at age 74, is a fraught personal and political event and comes at a time when a recent poll found that less than half of UK adults under 50 believe Britain should continue to have a monarchy. But for some Americans, Charles’s coronation is something simpler: an excuse to celebrate the British things they enjoy, such as scones, fascinators, Aston Martins and, of course, corgis, Elizabeth II’s favorite breed of dog.

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