First Thing: Ukraine says 42,000 at risk from dam flooding | US news

Good morning.

About 42,000 people are at risk from flooding on both sides of the Dnipro River after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, Ukrainian officials have said, with flood waters expected to peak on Wednesday.

The prediction came after UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the security council last night that the dam breach “will have grave and far-reaching consequences for thousands of people in southern Ukraine on both sides of the frontline through the loss of homes, food, safe water and livelihoods”.

“The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe will only become fully realised in the coming days,” he said.

One day after the dam disaster, the Ukrainian governor of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, accused Russia of shelling the area, killing one and injuring another. Prokudin did not provide further details and the claim has not been independently verified.

  • How are the relief efforts going? Relief workers on the Ukraine-controlled right bank of the river have reported having to operate under fire. “The biggest difficulty right now is not the water. It’s the Russians on the other side of the river who are shelling us now with artillery,” said Andrew Negrych, who was coordinating relief efforts yesterday for a US charity, Global Empowerment Mission.

  • What has Volodymyr Zelenskiy said? The Ukrainian president has used his social media channels to issue another statement about the destruction of the dam, claiming that hundreds of thousands of people have been left without access to drinking water. He said: “Russian terrorists have once again proved that they are a threat to everything living. The destruction of one of the largest water reservoirs in Ukraine is absolutely deliberate.”

Why is it so smoky? Canada wildfires spark air-quality alerts in north-east US

Heavy smoke shrouds Hudson Yards in a view looking west from the Empire State Building as the sun sets in New York CityPin
Heavy smoke shrouds Hudson Yards in a view looking west from the Empire State Building as the sun sets in New York City. Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Canada is dealing with a series of intense wildfires that have spread from the western provinces to Quebec, with hundreds of forest fires burning. Wind has carried smoke from the fires southward, triggering air-quality alerts throughout the US.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday issued a poor air-quality alert for New England, a day after parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota received a similar advisory. Last week, US officials as far south as Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania reported being affected by the wildfires.

Smoke from Canada’s wildfires has been moving into the U S since last month. The most recent fires near Quebec have been burning for at least several days.

The EPA said hazy skies, reduced visibility and the odor of burning wood are likely, and that the smoke will linger for a few days in New England.

“It’s not unusual for us to get fire smoke in our area. It’s very typical in terms of north-west Canada,” said Darren Austin, a meteorologist and senior air-quality specialist with the Rhode Island department of environmental management. But the smoke usually has been aloft higher in the atmosphere, not affecting people’s health, he said.

  • What’s the biggest concern? Air-quality alerts are triggered by a number of factors, including the detection of fine-particle pollution – known as “PM 2.5” – which can irritate the lungs. “We have defenses in our upper airway to trap larger particles and prevent them from getting down into the lungs. These are sort of the right size to get past those defenses,” said Dr David Hill of the American Lung Association’s national board of directors. “When those particles get down into the respiratory space, they cause the body to have an inflammatory reaction to them.”

Two killed and five injured in Virginia shooting after high school graduation

Police gather around Altria Theater, the site of a shooting in Richmond, VirginiaPin
Police gather around Altria Theater, the site of a shooting in Richmond, Virginia. Photograph: Mike Kropf/AP

Seven people were shot, two fatally, when gunfire rang out outside a downtown theater in Virginia where a high school graduation ceremony had just ended, causing hundreds of people to flee in panic, weep and clutch their children, authorities and witnesses said.

A 19-year-old suspect tried to escape on foot but was arrested and would be charged with two counts of second-degree murder, interim Richmond police chief Rick Edwards said during a news conference last night at which he confirmed the two fatalities.

Five others were wounded by the gunfire outside the state capital’s city-owned Altria Theater, which is across the street from a large, grassy park and in the middle of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. At least 12 others were injured or treated for shock, according to police.

“As they heard the gunfire, it was obviously chaos,” Edwards said. “We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park, so people scattered. It was very chaotic at the scene.”

  • Who were the victims? Edwards said one of those killed was an 18-year-old male student who had just graduated, while the other was a 36-year-old man who was there for the graduation. Their names were not released, but police said they believed the suspect, who was not immediately identified, knew at least one of the victims.

In other news …

Harlan CrowPin
Harlan Crow is a billionaire who showered lavish gifts on the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas over the course of decades. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images
  • The Democratic chair of the Senate finance committee has reiterated his threat to subpoena Harlan Crow, the Republican mega-donor whose gifts to the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas are the source of scandal. In a statement, Ron Wyden of Oregon accused Crow of stonewalling basic questions.

  • A federal judge has given the US government a week to decide how to respond to a rightwing thinktank that alleges Prince Harry may have lied about past drug use on his visa application. Application forms for US visas specifically ask about current and past drug use.

  • The former New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination at a New Hampshire town hall. In an unconventionally contrite speech, Christie said: “I can’t guarantee you success in what I’m about to do.”

  • Florida confirmed yesterday that it was behind two private jet flights that brought three dozen people seeking asylum from the US southern border to California amid accusations that the individuals were coerced to travel under false pretenses.

Stat of the day: Origins of masturbation traced back to primates 40m years ago

A group of bonobosPin
Bonobos at San Diego zoo in California. The UCL scientists said masturbation was common across primates of all sexes and ages. Photograph: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance/Reuters

Evolutionary biologists have traced the origins of masturbation to ancient primates that predate the first humans by tens of millions of years. The findings emerged from what scientists believe is the largest dataset ever compiled on the activity, and confirm that humans arose on a branch of the tree of life replete with self-pleasuring predecessors. The scientists’ analyses found support for the idea that male masturbation boosted the chances of impregnating a mate but more data was needed to nail down the evolutionary drivers for masturbation in females.

“What we can say is this behaviour was present around 40m years ago, in the common ancestor of all monkeys and apes,” said Dr Matilda Brindle, the lead researcher on the study at University College London. “It’s not that some species woke up one day and started doing it. This is an ancient, evolved trait.”

Don’t miss this: Parades but no public posts – which brands are supporting Pride after backlash?

Collage Maker-06-Jun-2023-10-52-AM-22Pin
As Target, Bud Light, Starbucks and others face threats and boycotts, here’s what other top US brands have planned. Composite: The Guardian/Getty Images/Adidas/LA Dodgers Twitter

In recent years, Pride month has served as an opportunity for global brands to demonstrate their inclusivity – marching in parades, touting support for LGBTQ+ causes and blanketing merchandise in rainbow flags. In the past, that’s led to concerns over “rainbow-washing”: corporations shrewdly supporting LGBTQ+ communities in more liberal territories for marketing purposes, without expending political or financial capital to stand by persecuted queer people around the world. But the political environment in the US is shifting. Republican state legislatures are passing laws restricting LGBTQ+ rights and conservative media personalities are demonizing trans people. Some companies have faced a rightwing backlash over recent Pride promotions, writes Matthew Cantor.

Climate check: Too late now to save Arctic summer ice, climate scientists find

ice floats in the Arctic near Svalbard, NorwayPin
Summer Arctic ice has shrunk by 13% a decade since satellite records began in 1979. Photograph: Dirk Notz/AP

It is now too late to save summer Arctic sea ice, research has shown, and scientists say preparations need to be made for the increased extreme weather across the northern hemisphere that is likely to occur as a result. Analysis shows that even if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply reduced, the Arctic will be ice-free in September in coming decades. The study also shows that if emissions decline slowly or continue to rise, the first ice-free summer could be in the 2030s, a decade earlier than previous projections. The research shows that 90% of the melting is the result of human-caused global heating, with natural factors accounting for the rest. Since satellite records began in 1979, summer Arctic ice has shrunk by 13% a decade, in one of the clearest signs of the climate crisis. Arctic sea ice reaches its annual minimum at the end of summer, in September, and in 2021 it was at its second lowest extent on record.

Last Thing: US urged to reveal UFO evidence after claim that it has intact alien vehicles

This file video grab image shows part of an unclassified video taken by US navy pilots showing interactions with ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’Pin
This file video grab image shows part of an unclassified video taken by US navy pilots showing interactions with ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’. Photograph: DoD/AFP/Getty Images

The US has been urged to disclose evidence of UFOs after a whistleblower former intelligence official said the government has possession of “intact and partially intact” alien vehicles. The former intelligence official David Grusch, who led analysis of unexplained anomalous phenomena (UAP) within a US Department of Defense agency, has alleged that the US has craft of non-human origin. Information on these vehicles is being illegally withheld from Congress, Grusch told the Debrief. Grusch said when he turned over classified information about the vehicles to Congress he suffered retaliation from government officials. He left the government in April after a 14-year career in US intelligence. Jonathan Grey, a US intelligence official at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (Nasic), confirmed the existence of “exotic materials” to the Debrief, adding: “We are not alone.”

Sign up

First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.

Get in touch

If you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters please email [email protected]

( Information from was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

Share to...