Your Wednesday Briefing

A critical dam is destroyed on Ukraine’s front line

The Kakhovka dam and electric plant in southern Ukraine was destroyed early yesterday morning, flooding a war zone downstream and raising the possibility of environmental and humanitarian disasters. Russia and Ukraine were quick to blame each other for the collapse, but it was not immediately clear who was responsible. Experts said a deliberate internal explosion was most likely the cause.

The dam supplies water for drinking and agriculture and for cooling reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said that there was “no immediate nuclear safety risk” at the plant, but that the group was closely monitoring the situation. The destruction could also dislodge land mines, which would create new hazards as they are washed downstream.

Residents of Antonivka, a town about 40 miles downstream from the dam, described watching in horror as roiling floodwaters carried trees and debris from washed-out houses. More than 40,000 people could be in the path of the deluge in both Ukrainian- and Russian-controlled territory, a Ukrainian official said. Flooding is expected to intensify as the waters from the reservoir continue to flow. Here’s a map.

From our correspondent: “People here are shocked,” said my colleague Marc Santora, who was in southern Ukraine. “They’ve gotten used to all sorts of Russian bombardment, all sorts of horrors, but this is just so much bigger in both magnitude and the repercussions that it is going to have across society.”

A PGA-LIV deal increases Saudi influence in golf

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the new league bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, announced a merger, ending a bitter fight for supremacy of men’s professional golf that had divided players, fans and sponsors. It is the most stunning success to date of Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a player in global sports. (Here are the basics of the deal.)

LIV Golf had sparked a crisis for the PGA Tour, which has scrambled to reinvent its economic model as some of its biggest stars switched circuits. Some in the PGA had sharply criticized LIV, both for dividing golf and for associating with Saudi Arabia and its poor human rights record. All lawsuits will now end between the former rivals.

By merging with the PGA Tour, LIV Golf has a foothold that guarantees its outsize influence in the game’s future. Yasir al-Rumayyan, who runs the sovereign wealth fund, will become chairman of the new organization.

Background: LIV lured some of the world’s most prominent players, some with contracts said to be worth $200 million, and offered tournament prize funds that were the richest in golf history. Tiger Woods, who rebuffed a nine-figure offer from LIV, has harshly criticized the league’s approach to competition.

Donald Trump: One of the few people who accurately predicted the outcome of the rivalry was the former president, who remains close to Saudi officials and whose clubs hosted several LIV events.

Prince Harry’s day in court

Prince Harry took the stand in London yesterday to accuse the Mirror Newspaper Group of hacking his cellphone more than a decade ago. Over five hours of polite but persistent grilling, Harry said that reporters intercepted his voice mail messages and used other unlawful means to dig up personal information about him.

Harry, who is the first prominent royal to testify since the 19th century, declared that editors and journalists “have blood on their hands” because of the lengths to which they went to ferret out news about him and his family, not least his mother, Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 after being pursued by photographers. He is expected to continue testifying today.

A lawyer for the Mirror Group, Andrew Green, pressed the prince for evidence that journalists had hacked his phone, arguing that information that Harry said was illegally obtained was available elsewhere. Harry in turn insisted there was no way the Mirror’s reporters could have so quickly discovered his whereabouts, or the details of a schoolyard injury, without resorting to illegal methods.

Details: Harry is one of four plaintiffs in the case, one of two civil suits rooted in a phone hacking scandal from 2011 that have made it to trial. The Mirror Group’s lawyers argue that Harry waited too long to file the lawsuit, noting that the alleged misconduct occurred between 1991 and 2011.


Around the World

Wildfires in Canada are casting a haze over much of the northeastern U.S., causing the air quality to hit dangerous levels in some areas.

France witnessed another day of protests against a widely unpopular pension overhaul, in what may be a final stand against the changes.

The World Bank warned of sluggish growth in the global economy this year and next, as rising interest rates slow spending and investment.

Other Big Stories

The first Arctic summer without sea ice could arrive as early as the 2030s, a new study found, about a decade earlier than scientists studying climate change had predicted.

Federal authorities in the U.S. sued the cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase, claiming that the company broke securities law by not registering as a broker.

Cuba Gooding Jr. settled a lawsuit that had accused him of rape, allowing him to avoid going to trial.

Chris Christie has entered the 2024 presidential race. The former governor of New Jersey was eclipsed by Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries.

Science Times

“Thick, muddy, icky beaches that are full of bird poop”: How scientists stay one step ahead of avian flu.

Homo naledi, a relative of ancient humans, was long considered too primitive for rituals. Now, scientists have evidence that they buried their dead in caves.

The pharmaceutical company Merck sued the U.S. government over a law that empowers Medicare to negotiate prices directly with drugmakers.

Gene therapy may offer birth control for cats, potentially curbing vast stray feline populations.

Birds warm up before singing and host rehearsals and singing contests. But are their songs really music?

A Morning Read

As climate change speeds coastal erosion in France, can memory be preserved if the landing sites of the Allied invasion on D-Day disappear?

“If I don’t have the site, I lose the history of what happened here,” a battle monument superintendent said. “You may as well stay at home on the couch and read a book.”

Lives Lived

Françoise Gilot, who began an affair with Pablo Picasso when she was 22 and he was 62 before becoming an accomplished painter and memoirist in her own right, has died at 101.


The overhaul of Saudi soccer, explained: Why more of the biggest soccer stars are set for a move to Saudi Arabia.

This is Ange Postecoglou: The history, track record and philosophy of Tottenham’s new manager.

Spanish Grand Prix: A big moment for Mercedes, not only in the current season, but in the entire generation of technical rules currently used in F1.


Ancient Egyptian birds

Beholding the migrations of birds between Europe and central and southern Africa, ancient Egyptians regarded them as living symbols of fertility, life and regeneration. With the possible exception of cats, no other animal has been so frequently drawn, painted or sculpted in Egyptian art.

Birds appear in lush and skillful detail on panels on a wall of a 3,300-year-old Egyptian palace in Amarna, above. British researchers recently identified some of the species depicted and tried to solve a mystery: why two of them have triangular tail markings when no Egyptian bird known today does.


What to Cook

This chive pesto potato salad is highly adaptable.

Tech Fix

Our critic reviews Apple’s $3,500 headset.

What to Read

The actor Elliot Page reflects on his gender transition in the brutally honest memoir “Pageboy.”

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Sport for little sluggers (five letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Natasha

P.S. Carl Hulse, our chief Washington correspondent, wrote about how covering the debt limit crisis required knowledge of arcane congressional processes and pure stamina.

“The Daily” is on literacy education in the U.S.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

Natasha Frost writes the Europe Morning Briefing and reports on Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific from Melbourne, Australia. @natashamfrost

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